Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

Skip to content

Website Catalog

WSLL @ Your Service August 2020

Sidewalk Service - Carol Hassler

Sidewalk pickup service

We're pleased to provide sidewalk pickup service to our users! Use our library catalog to locate the items you would like to check out. Fill out our Borrow Materials form, email wsll.ref@wicourts.gov, or call us at 608-267-9696 to place your request. A librarian will schedule a pickup time for you outside of the library entrance on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Please allow yourself enough time to park and walk to the library entrance. Pickups will be under the overhang next to the glass entrance doors. 

We take the health and safety of our staff and users very seriously. Before we pull your materials, staff will wear a mask and sanitize their hands. Your items will be placed in a sealed bag and labeled with your name and the due date of your items. Return information will be included on the package as well.

How do I return a book?

Return your books using our sidewalk service! Call 608-267-9696 to schedule an appointment to return your library books. A librarian will schedule a return time for you outside of the library entrance on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Ship your returned books to our library using the following addresses:

David T. Prosser Jr. State Law Library
120 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Madison WI 53703


Wisconsin State Law Library
PO Box 7881
Madison WI 53707

top Up to Top

New Federal Court Records Search - Carol Hassler

PACER is the federal court system's website for filing and searching federal district, bankruptcy, and appellate court cases. With over a billion documents filed by parties or courts, PACER is a necessary resource for the federal court researcher. Located at pacer.uscourts.gov, the redesigned website features updated account access, a new, more accessible design, and helpful research tips.

Mobile ready

Most immediately apparent in this age of cell phone browsing is the new mobile-ready design of the website. Collapsible on smaller screens, with a larger and more readable font, the PACER site has been re-engineered to be faster to use on your phone.

Updated account access

PACER has long required a fee for downloading documents and viewing search results. While fee exemptions are available, many users are subject to the basic document retrieval fees. If a user accumulates over $30 in charges in a single quarter then they will be charged 10 cents per page, with multi-page documents capped at $3. Users who do not meet this $30 threshold will not be charged for that quarter. A new fees page outlines what costs to expect, and when access is free.

Case locator

I spend much of my time on PACER using the Case Locator tool to find cases by party name or case number. This search is now labeled "Search by National Index" throughout the site.

Searchers have two options: search by case or by party name. Both searches have advanced options that allow restriction by region and date range. If you're researching an individual and aren't sure of the case, the party name search is the best way to get started. Otherwise, it's always quickest to enter a case number and restrict by court in the case search. It's usually necessary to limit your case number searches to a particular court, since it's possible to find duplicate case numbers between courts from different regions.

Federal district court case numbers follow a standard format:

[2 digit year]-[case type abbreviation]-[case number]

If you're closely tracking search costs to avoid surpassing the fee threshold where you'll be charged, make note of the fee receipt in the lower left of each screen. Many actions that are second nature to power searchers may incur an additional "page view" fee, such as sorting search results. Each time you perform an action that will add to your billable total you'll get a warning, and an option to cancel the request.

For detailed search tips, read through the PACER case locator manual.

Practice makes perfect

With potential charges at play, researchers may want to spend some time getting comfortable with PACER's search options. Use the PACER training site to explore how the searches work. Log in with your account, or use the training credentials. This site uses the old design so the new PACER interface will feel a little different.

Beyond PACER

The US Court System has created a journalist's guide to federal court records. This guide is a useful overview of where to find court records for a fee - and for free.

Many subscription websites include access to federal docket information, including Bloomberg Law, Westlaw, and Lexis. Depending on your fee agreements and access to these products, running initial searches through a third-party website before updating a case on PACER or downloading documents can sometimes be a helpful and cost-effective approach.

top Up to Top

New Books - Kari Zelinka

New Update! Commercial Real Estate Transactions in Wisconsin, by Harvey Tempkin
Call Number: KFW 2526 .T462

This book is vital for the attorney representing real estate buyers or sellers. If you are looking for information on title insurance, tax aspects, checklists for closing, and other real estate forms, start here. The new update has timely tips for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Other additions include a revised ALTA Commitment and information on the fee for recording documents against a property.

Chapters include:

  • Analyzing a commercial real estate investment
  • Listing contracts
  • Tying up the property
  • Due diligence
  • Environmental consideration
  • Financing
  • Title insurance and closing protection letters
  • Insurance issues
  • Tax strategies
  • Closing issues and documents

New Update! Family Law Casenotes and Quotes, by Thomas A Bailey
Call Number: KFW 2494 .B346

If you're looking for citable unpublished opinions on issues such as abduction, paternity, and visitation then Family Law Casenotes and Quotes is a good resource to consult. It is updated three times a year. Each entry includes the case name, citation, and name of the trial court judge and appellate judge issuing the decision. There is a synopsis of the case's relevant facts, important quotations with pinpoint citations, and bolded subject terms that highlight the most important facts in each case.

Updates for 2020 include:

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion discussing constructive trusts
  • Wisconsin Court of Appeals decisions addressing
  • Contempt
  • Child support
  • Guardian ad litem fees
  • U.S. Supreme Court opinion on an international child custody dispute
  • Recent federal bankruptcy decisions in the area of family law
  • Legislative amendments concerning use of genetic testing in a paternity decision

New Titles RSS Feed See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources.

For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.


top Up to Top

State Law Library Art Tour (Part Two) - Jaime Healy-Plotkin

The David T. Prosser Jr. Library walls are decorated with purchases and borrowed items, including several portraits. Several of the prominent figures featured in Library portraits are buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery located to the west of Camp Randall and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

During this time of social distancing we connected the artwork in the library to the gravesites of prominent figures of law and Wisconsin and Madison history. This series walks you through the halls of the Wisconsin State Law Library and amongst the graves in the Forest Hill Cemetery.

Jared Comstock Gregory

Jared Comstock Gregory's portrait hangs near the Training Room, next to a patron computer station on the Library's main floor. Gregory led a busy public life. While also working as an attorney with the Gregory and Pinney law firm from 1858-1879, he served as a University of Wisconsin regent from 1869-1881 and was elected Mayor of Madison in 1873. He later became Madison's postmaster from 1885-1889. Gregory is buried in Section 31 of the Forest Hill Cemetery, near his former law partner Silas Pinney.

Burr Jones

Burr Jones' portrait hangs outside the Rare Book Room on the upper level of the library. He served as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice from 1920-1926. Prior to that, Jones served as Dane county District Attorney, a Representative in the United States Congress, and a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. His wife, Olive Hoyt Jones, was a member of the prominent Hoyt family of Madison. Jones was the author of the Law of Evidence in Civil Cases, colloquially known as Jones on Evidence.

Read more about artwork in our libraries in our next issue!

top Up to Top

Library News - Carol Hassler

Fall classes canceled

Due to concerns about hosting larger gatherings, we are canceling our remaining 2020 in-person classes. We will continue to schedule new webinars and post free webinars for attorneys from Westlaw on our Classes page. This fall, watch our website and social media for announcements about free online CLE opportunities. Registration information will be posted on our Classes page.

Librarians reach out

State Law Librarian Amy Crowder recently co-presented a panel session as part of the American Association of Law Library's virtual annual conference, along with UW Law Library's Assistant Director of Public Services Kris Turner and Davis & Kuelthau Director of Library Services, Beverly Butula. The presentation, "I'm, like, totally profesh!" Finding the Right Balance Between Casual and Professional Marketing and Outreach Voices, examined ways each library reached out to their users and balanced engaging communication with the library's reputation and message.

top Up to Top

August Snapshot

Cicada Emergent
Photo by Carol Hassler

I recently talked with a friend from the southern United States about cicadas. She declared the buzz of cicadas to be the worst sort of nuisance. I was curious if cicada (or katydid) noise ever came up in legal discourse. I didn't find much outside of metaphor, but I was pleased to find cicadas described as "ambient background noise" in a sample interrogatory. Wonderfully persistent, this insect's song has always been one of my favorite background sounds of summer.

"Q. What is ambient background noise?

It is other noise that is normally present in the testing area, such as cicadas buzzing in the trees, planes passing by, vehicular traffic, and noise from ordinary neighborhood activities."

41 AMJUR POF 3d 391

We are accepting snapshots! Do you have a photo highlighting libraries, attractions or points of historical interest? Send your photo to the editor at carol.hassler@wicourts.gov to be included in a future issue.

top Up to Top

Comments Welcome!

Keep Up With Current News

WSLL Facebook Fan Page Like us on Facebook

WSLL LinkedIn Page Follow us on LinkedIn


Ask a Question Top of Page