Friday, July 29, 2005

New Resource: Financial Crimes Report

From the Librarian's Index to the Internet ( comes news of a report from the FBI on financial crimes:

"This report addresses the various priorities of the FBI in financial crimes and the FBI's efforts to combat them. Each section provides an overview, statistical accomplishments, and successful investigations for the identified crime problem. Where appropriate, each section also provides ways in which the public can protect themselves from being victimized." View the Report from the FBI.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Speedy Trial

This feature introduces a member of Dane County's legal community as they answer five questions posed to them by DCLRCBlawg. If you would like to participate, please email Paula Seeger for more information.

Meet Anne T Wadsack, attorney at Dewitt, Ross, & Stevens.

1. What's the favorite part of your job?

  • Meeting people, analyzing problems, reading

2. What's the greatest challenge facing Dane Co. courts or legal professionals today?

  • Unprepared (overworked/overscheduled) judges, who are probably buried in pro-se stuff most of the time. For an attorney, it is distressing to walk into court, as I have several times in the last twleve months, only to have the judge say "Oh, and I haven't read any of the briefs." We try to make the issues clear cut, succinct, and give the court reference to its authority to do what we're asking. If the briefs haven't been read, then the whole thing is just a free for all and a terrible time waster.

3. What's the one thing that has changed the most since you took your job?

  • Women in the law. (been practicing 34 years)

4. You would describe your legal research style as:
A: Legal Research...what's that?
B: Thank Goodness for staff attorneys and office staff!
C: Mostly at home, mostly as needed
D: All research, all the time.

  • None of the above. I do my own research in most cases, although will throw a narrow question to a law clerk for depth.

5. What three pieces of advice would you give to someone new to your line of work?

  • Your time is valuable. Charge for it.
  • Your wisdom is a rare commodity in this world. Develop it.
  • Your common sense is an amazing tool. Use it often.

Well said. Thanks for your thoughts!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Reminder from COC about Pleadings format

Vicki, court manager in the Clerk of Courts, asks us to please issue a reminder to litigants regarding Dane Co Court Rule 107 regarding the format of case pleadings, especially section 2's format requirement highlighted below:

107: Case Captions
1) Caption
In the initial pleadings (e.g., complaint) the caption shall include the case classification type and code. The title of the action shall include the full names and addresses of all the parties, including persons appearing in a representative capacity (e.g., a guardian of a ward).

All pleadings/papers shall be captioned State of Wisconsin, Dane County Branch ___, Circuit Court. The caption shall include the title of the action, the case number, and a name of document (e.g., answer). Subsequent documents filed after the pleadings should, at a minimum, state the full name of the first party, followed by “et al.”

2) Pleadings
Every pleading, motion or other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall contain the name, state bar number, telephone number, and address of the attorney. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall include on the pleading, motion or other paper his or her name, signature and address.

Papers that do not contain the required information will not be accepted for filing.

If more than one case number is listed on any document, a duplicate signed original must be filed for each additional case number on the document.

Documents exceeding one page in length will not be accepted for filing unless fastened or stapled at the top of the document.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New Resource: Archive of Dane Co Judges

Recently added to the Clerk of Courts website is a pictorial archive of all the judges who have served Dane County Circuit Court from 1848 to current.

Legal Research Tip 17: Finding instruction in using legal resources

Welcome to the next issue of the DCLRC E-Newsletter "Legal Research Tips"! You can view back issues of these tips through other posts in this blawg. Enjoy!

Looking for learning opportunities about legal topics and resources? Here are a few local places to check.

1. WI State Law Library's Classes and Tours page lists upcoming learning opportunities and other events.

2. Madison Public Library's Program and Events page lists upcoming classes and other events, some of which may be law-related.

3. UW-Law Library's Instructional Services page lists tips and guides for using the library's resources and services.

4. DCLRC's Classes and Information Sessions page lists upcoming classes and events, but also look at the most recent issues of DCLRC Docket newsletter for more information on upcoming classes.

5. Some community groups offer classes and other events that are law-related. Look especially at those agencies who also offer legal assistance to see what they may offer.

Internet Tip 17

Welcome to the next issue of "Internet Tips"! There are three sections to this email: a beginner's tip, an advanced tip, and a useful internet link. Enjoy!

Beginner's Tip: Who can read cookies?
You might think of cookies as a security threat. Only the issuers of the cookies can read them. Other sites cannot read them. Cookies are pieces of information sent to a browser by a Web Server. The browser then returns that information to the Web server. This is how some Web pages "remember" your previous visits. So when you're shopping online and you look in your shopping cart, the contents are still there because of cookies.

Advanced Tip: Printing only certain cells in Excel
You can print only the cells of your choice in Microsoft Excel. This can come in handy when you want to print a small worksheet, or only the part of a worksheet. To select the cells, and print them:
  • Select the cells with the mouse.
  • Click on File in the toolbar.
  • Select Print Area.
  • Click on Set Print Area.

Now when you click the Print button, or select Print from the File menu, only the selected cells will be printed.

This month's tips are from

Useful Internet Link:'s Holidays Page:

( is the Librarians' Index to the Internet...a very valuable source of reliable information)

Friday, July 15, 2005

A day in the life of phone reference @ DCLRC

When court staff write reports highlighting our services, we're always asked to provide some typical questions we get from our patrons. Here are some actual questions received at DCLRC in one day from patrons who phoned (calls not received in this order):
  • We won our small claims judgment, but the person's not paying. What can we do?
  • Could you renew a book for me?
  • Are there any lawyers in the courthouse who give free legal advice?
  • I won an eviction and got the tenant out, but he left his stuff and now has been breaking in at night to retrieve it. What can I do with his stuff?
  • I need to provide financial information to the Family Court Commissioner's office, but I can't get ahold of my CPA to get a copy of my W2's. Can I delay sending the information until I receive a copy?
  • Are the court rules on the website up to date?
  • Can I get a motion online?
  • Where can I buy law books--like the statutes?
  • I feel all the women in the court system are biased against me. Is there a man there I can talk to?
  • Did I leave an umbrella there yesterday?
  • Does Dane County accept court forms via email?
  • Are your forms good for all counties?
  • Can you look up what time my hearing is next week?
  • Do you know the cut-off income is for the Public Defender? What if I make over the amount, do I have to hire my own attorney? I can use a public defender in divorce cases, right?
  • My wife won't let me see my kids. Can I hold her in contempt?

As you can see, we get a wide variety of questions to answer or re-direct. Using the resources in our library, the courthouse, or online, we attempt to provide useful information without giving legal advice in the most cost-efficient manner.

Update on Courthouse Construction

I just wanted to update our users on the new Courthouse construction, and try out this nifty new tool that lets me post photos right in my post. We are scheduled to move into our new location on the lower level of the Dane Co Justice Center, on the corner of Hamilton and Wilson, on January 13. Here's a photo of Julie Tessmer from WSLL and myself during a recent site visit. Gotta' love hardhats when it's 90 degrees out! There's more pictures on our website, under "News."

Do More Police = Less Crime?

Does an increased number of police officers patrolling the streets equal less crime? Not necessarily, according to this report from the Civic Strategies E-letter. Here's an excerpt:
"Why was it hard to see the reverse correlation between cops and robbers before now? Because there's a difference between causation and coincidence. That is, if a city hires a lot of officers and the crime rate plummets, did the beefed-up police presence cause crime to decline or was it coincidence? And there are other explanations around for why crime rates rise and fall, from unemployment and cheap handguns to violence on television and a decline in morality. Wouldn't they explain at least some of the changes in crime?" Read more...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Determine When a Divorce Needs a Lawyer's Involvement

From comes this handy article on determining whether your divorce calls for a lawyer's involvement or not.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

9 Ways to Reduce the Pain & Expense of Divorce

From the Alabama Family Law Blog comes this article on Nine Ways to Reduce the Pain & Expense of Divorce. Steps include:

Step #2: Help your lawyer get financial documents and information. Your lawyer can obtain the information through what is called the discovery process. However, if you can obtain it, you can avoid the expense involved by the lawyer handling this aspect of the case.

Step #3: Don't seek revenge. This only confuses, inflames and delays everything. When both parties use the legal process to obtain retribution, no one wins - except, perhaps, the lawyers.
Read more steps...

New Resource: TaxAlmanac

This may not be new to you, but TaxAlmanac is a resource that:
"is a free tax research resource brought to you by Intuit . It is a revolutionary leap forward in how accountants research tax laws, create and share knowledge.... Content on TaxAlmanac is written by tax professionals from across the country and takes advantage of the knowledge of academia as well as practioners - in short, the real tax experts. The site includes key information that tax professionals find useful when conducting research - including the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, Tax Court Cases, and a variety of Articles. TaxAlmanac currently contains 7976 articles."
Notice from

Burial Disputes Prompt Military Changes

From the Kansas Family & Divorce Lawyer Blog:
Soldiers Must Pick Custodian for Remains

The military will require service members to designate someone to handle their remains following two burial disputes involving divorced parents of soldiers killed in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

In the News: Madison's Smoking Ban

Here are resources about Madison's Smokefree Ordinance, in effect July 1, 2005:

Smoke Free Ordinance Changes FAQ’s from Madison's Dept of Public Health

The new Madison General Ordinance 23.05 "Smoking Prohibited in Certain Areas"

A copy of the "No Smoking" sign Restaurants and Taverns are to post

Smoke-Free Implementation Handbook from KISS: Kids Involuntarily Inhaling Secondhand Smoke

Friday, July 01, 2005

Stump the Law Librarian

Q: I'm very interested in weather. I watch the Weather Channel all the time. Are there any interesting developments on the topic of law and the weather?

A: Here are a couple developments you might like to take note of:
1) The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005, a bill introduced in April by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) could dramatically change the function of the National Weather Service. The bill's key provision (Section 2b) states that the National Weather Service cannot provide "a product or service...that is or could be provided by the private sector", with the exception of severe weather forecasts and warnings needed to protect life and property. The Secretary of Commerce is given sole authority on how to interpret what NWS products and services should be restricted. This bill has a lot of criticism and support. Supporters say the bill is necessary to bring about private sector innovation, but critics argue that it is unnecessary because NWS isn't hurting private weather vendors' bottom line.

2) Vehicular Hyperthermia: In summer, there's always a turn to look at safety on hot days, especially with regard to pets and children left in hot vehicles. Right now, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle in 9 states, while another 11 states have proposed legislation to make it a criminal act. In two other states, it's only a crime if the child is injured or dies. The remaining 28 states have no restrictions. Unlike other weather-related fatalities, every one of these types of cases can be prevented. This is an area of development in many states and something to watch. (Stats from Weatherwise magazine, July/August 2005 issue)

New Shredding Rule

From the San Diego County Public Law Library's July Newsletter:

New Rule Requires Attorneys to Shred Shred Shred
The Federal Trade Commission just came out with a new rule requiring businesses who use consumer information to shred the reports instead of discarding them in the trash. Both attorneys and private investigators are required to comply with this rule, as well as landlords, mortgage brokers, and other professionals. As any good lawyer would, the question to ask now is "How is 'consumer information' defined?"

The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines the term "consumer report" as "any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's eligibility for(A) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; (B) employment purposes; or(C) any other purpose authorized under section 604 [§ 1681b]." Let the shredding begin...