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WSLL @ Your Service April 2023

"There’s more to the story…” Appellate Briefing Provides Valuable Insight - Angela Humiston

Every April, the American Library Association sets a new theme for National Library Week. This year's theme, "There's more to the story," seems tailor-made for law libraries. Behind a news story or legal citation, there's a rich well of history.

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Recent health care news highlighted a pending Wisconsin Supreme Court case. In Gahl v. Aurora Health Care, Inc, the issue is whether a court can compel a hospital to treat a patient with Ivermectin for COVD-19.

To summarize the case, a patient was put on a ventilator in 2021 while being treated for complications of COVID-19. The patient's designated health care power of attorney agent (HCPOA) got a prescription for Ivermectin from a doctor not associated with the healthcare facility. The doctors treating the patient refused to administer the treatment after concluding it was below the standard of care. The Circuit Court granted the HCPOA injunctive relief compelling the hospital to administer the proposed treatment. However, the healthcare provider immediately filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal. The Court of Appeals stayed further proceedings in the Circuit Court and reversed the lower court's order.

It's immediately apparent that the outcome of this case will have a broad impact on healthcare providers and patients alike. As a law librarian, my first impulse is to pull up the appellate briefing to read the attorneys' arguments. These legal experts have identified the controlling primary law, pulled in case law from other jurisdictions, and crafted their most persuasive arguments. Going further into the story can provide key details and a deeper understanding of the case beyond the attention grabbing headlines.

The Court of Appeals opinion, 2022 WI App 29, 403 Wis. 2d 539, 977 N.W.2d 756, provides an explanation of the issues of law. However, if you dig deeper and read the respondent's brief filed with the state Supreme Court you'll find a detailed explanation of the facts of the case. Find links to all of the parties' briefs via the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Access (WSCCA) database on the case history page.

Often, when an important case is being heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Amicus Curiae briefs (a.k.a. "friend of the court" briefs) are filed by organizations who are not parties to the case but have a vested interest in the issues at hand. Admittedly, that is a simplified explanation. If you'd like to learn more about Amici Curiae, read the expertly written 2007 Wisconsin Lawyer article Friend of the Court Briefs: What the Curiae Wants in an Amicus, by Judge Neal Nettesheim and Attorney Clare Ryan. In Gahl, you'll find three Briefs of Amicus Curiae with very different perspectives. As with everything you read or hear, know the source of the information. If you're unfamiliar with an organization, attorney, or law firm, take a minute to familiarize yourself. For example, a brief written by a pro se litigant does not have the same legal expertise as one written by a seasoned practicing attorney.

I'll be waiting for the court to hand down its decision on Gahl this summer. If in the course of your own legal research you'd like to review the briefs or the appendices from an appellate case but you're not sure where to start, we provide an explanation on our Wisconsin Briefs page. Our team of expert law librarians can also guide you by email or call us for assistance. More recent briefs are online, but the library has an archive of Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals briefs in print, starting with the first case heard in each court.

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Wisconsin Budget Research - Keely Wrolstad

The Governor's formal announcement of the biennial budget to the Legislature and people of Wisconsin signals the start of budget season in Wisconsin. Use this research guide to understand the process or to stay up to date on the latest changes. This research guide has been updated for the 2023-25 budget.

bank note design


Wisconsin State Legislature

Budget drafts are available on the Wisconsin State Legislature's website after the end of the practical session, likely summer 2023. To view the budget draft before it is available online, visit the Legislative Reference Bureau at 1 East Main Street, Suite 200, Madison, Wisconsin, 53703.

Department of Administration

Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) and Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB)

Joint Committee on Finance

The Joint Committee on Finance is a statutory, 16-member standing committee of the Wisconsin Legislature. The Committee's primary responsibility is to serve as the principal legislative committee charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues. Read more in the "Joint Committee on Finance" Information Paper 81, by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Budget process information

Wisconsin Policy Forum
Nonpartisan research about state government and includes reports and analysis on the budget

State Budget Transparency
From the Office of the State Treasurer. Includes an outline of the state budget process as well as links to reports including the Wisconsin State Treasurer Taxpayer Report.


Wisconsin Eye
Watch live coverage of the Joint Committee on Finance, budget listening sessions, floor debate, and news conferences

The Wheeler Report
Curated collection of news articles, press releases, and interviews with a specific section on the budget

Wisconsin political news includes a section on the budget available to subscribers


Image source: $100 Federal Reserve Note Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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New Books - Kari Zelinka

book cover

New Edition! Nolo's quick LLC : all you need to know about limited liability companies, 12th edition, 2023 by attorney Anthony Mancuso
Call Number: KF 1380 .M36 2023

If you're wondering if an LLC is a good fit for a business idea you have, consider perusing Nolo's Quick LLC by Anthony Mancuso. Learn about how to separate and protect personal assets from business debts.  In a concise fashion, Mancuso outlines the legal features of an LLC and when to choose an LLC rather than a corporation, partnership, or other form of business. He provides sample operating agreements including provisions on membership, tax and finances, capital, membership withdrawal and transfer, and dissolution. Keep track of everything with a handy checklist for forming an LLC.

Topics include:

  • Basics of forming an LLC
  • C and S Corporations
  • Tax considerations of start-up capital
  • Converting an existing business to an LLC
  • LLC management
  • Paperwork required to form an LLC

book cover

New Update! Wisconsin probate system: forms and procedures handbook, 5th edition, 2022-23 supplement by State Bar of Wisconsin
Call Number: KFW 2544 .A75 B65

Wisconsin Probate System: forms and procedures handbook has just been supplemented, so if you're tackling probate this year, stay up to date with the latest information and forms by checking this book out today. In the 2022-2023 supplement you'll find updated exemption amounts, the newest versions of agency and court forms and revised sample tax returns. If you are an attorney just starting out in probate practice, this book will give you a summary of Wisconsin probate law. Even if you're very familiar with the material, the sample forms, letters and checklist you'll find throughout the book are invaluable.

Topics include:

  • Probate practice aids
  • Planning the representation
  • Informal probate
  • Formal probate and special administration
  • Summary procedure
  • Estate and incomes taxes

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.

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Tech Tip - Heidi Yelk

Edit PDFs in Firefox

A recent update to Firefox makes working with PDF documents just a little easier. A PDF editor now comes built in with the Firefox browser - there is no need to download or manage extensions. This simple editor allows users to add text to a PDF or use a draw tool to mark on the document.

To use these tools, first open a PDF document in the Firefox browser, then select the "text" or "draw" buttons in the upper right corner. Place the cursor on the spot inside the PDF where you would like to add text or draw. After adding changes, simply print or save the document.

The Firefox PDF editor is very basic, but allows for simple additions or changes without requiring additional software.

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Library news - Carol Hassler

Free Spring Classes

There is still space available in our remaining spring classes! Registrations for our webinars will be approved by the moderator. Once your registration is approved, you will get an email confirmation with connection information. Please reach out to Abigail Case with questions.

Researching the Wisconsin Administrative Code
Wednesday, April 12, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: David T. Prosser Jr. Library, training room. Register for this in-person class by sending an email to Abigail Case (abigail.case@wicourts.gov)
A brief discussion of the history and function of the administrative code, with tips and examples to show how to research the history of a rule.

Wisconsin legislative history - Advanced
Wednesday, May 24, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Live webinar - Register for Wisconsin legislative history - Advanced
Participants will learn about online Wisconsin legislative resources and learn some helpful tips and tricks along the way. This class goes beyond the normal sources for legislative history, focusing on the special steps and sources involved in researching budget bills, legislative council bills, and judicial branch enactments.

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April Snapshot

milwaukee skyline

A view of the Milwaukee skyline from the County Courthouse
Photo by Amy Crowder

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.

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