Users shall be provided with an electronic signature that can be executed by the user with the intent to sign a document. The electronic signature shall be treated as the user's personal original signature for all purposes under the statutes and court rules. Each document electronically signed shall bear that person's name, mailing address, telephone number, and state bar number if applicable. If a statute requires a signature at a particular location on a form, the user shall insert the user's printed name and an indication that the document has been electronically signed. The electronic signature may be applied to the document's transmittal page.
A summons and complaint, petition, or other initiating document that is electronically signed in compliance with this section bears a sufficient signature under s. 802.05
An electronic signature shall be used only by the user to whom it is assigned. Upon learning that the confidentiality of the electronic signature has been inadvertently or improperly disclosed, the user shall immediately report that fact through the electronic filing system.
Attorneys are responsible for electronically filed documents to the same extent as for paper filings. Attorneys using the electronic filing system are subject to sanctions under s. 802.05
and contempt procedures under ch. 785
, and are subject to discipline for any violation of a duty to the court under the supreme court rules.
Self-represented parties are responsible for electronically filed documents to the same extent as for paper filings. Self-represented parties using the electronic filing system are subject to sanctions under s. 802.05
and contempt procedures under ch. 785
Documents containing signatures of third parties, such as affidavits, may be filed through the electronic filing system if a handwritten signature appears on the original document. The user shall submit a scanned copy of the signed document to the electronic filing system, and the court shall maintain the scanned signature as the official court record. The court may require the submitting party to produce the original paper document if validity of the signature is challenged.
If a document bearing a signature is filed by traditional methods, the filing party shall file a copy of that document and not the original paper document, as provided by sub. (9)
If the signature of a court official is required on a document, an electronic signature may be used. The electronic signature shall be treated as the court official's personal original signature for all purposes under Wisconsin statutes and court rules. Where a nonelectronic signature would be located on a particular order, form, letter, or other document, the official's printed name shall be inserted.
The electronic signature of a court official shall be used only by the official to whom it is assigned and by such designees as the official may authorize. The court official is responsible for any use of his or her electronic signature by an authorized designee.
A court official may delegate the use of his or her electronic signature to an authorized designee pursuant to the security procedures of the consolidated court automation program case management system. Upon learning that the confidentiality of the electronic signature has been inadvertently or improperly disclosed, the court official shall immediately report that fact to the consolidated court automation program. Court officials shall safeguard the security of their electronic signatures and exercise care in delegating the electronic signature.
The confidentiality of an electronic record, or an electronic or paper copy thereof, is the same as for the equivalent paper record. The electronic filing system may permit access to confidential information only to the extent provided by law. No person in possession of a confidential electronic record, or an electronic or paper copy thereof, may release the information to any other person except as provided by law.
If a document is confidential, it shall be identified as confidential by the submitting party when it is filed. The electronic filing system may require users to enter certain information, such as social security numbers, in confidential fields. The clerk of court is not required to review documents to determine if confidential information is contained within them.
If a user seeks court approval to make a document confidential, the user may electronically file the document under temporary seal pending court approval of the user's motion to seal.
The electronic filing system shall place a visible mark on documents identified as confidential.
A user whose filing is made untimely as a result of a technical failure may seek appropriate relief from the court as follows:
If the failure is caused by the court electronic filing system, the court shall grant appropriate relief upon satisfactory proof of the cause.
If the failure is not caused by the court electronic filing system, the court may grant appropriate relief upon satisfactory proof of the cause. Parties are responsible for timely filing of electronic documents to the same extent as filing of paper documents, with similar consequences for missed deadlines.
This subsection shall be liberally applied to avoid prejudice to any person using the electronic filing system in good faith.
Sup. Ct. Order No. 06-08
, 2008 WI 36, 305 Wis. 2d xxv; Sup. Ct. Order No. 08-20
, 2008 WI 106, 307 Wis. 2d xv; 2009 a. 276
; Sup. Ct. Order No. 12-05
, 2012 WI 112, filed 11-1-12, eff. 1-1-13.
Comment, 2008: Sub. (4) is intended to be consistent with the rules for facsimile transmissions under ss. 801.15 and 801.16.
Sub. (6) does not apply the general rule that most documents are considered served when they are mailed. Although documents are considered filed when they are accepted by the clerk and posted to the electronic filing website, the parties are notified of the posting by a notice sent to an electronic mail account. Because electronic mail is not yet as reliable as the United States Post Office, this subsection requires the filing party to revert to traditional service if the electronic mail notice is returned as undeliverable.
Sub. (6) (f) provides that the clerk of court may allow an existing case to be converted to electronic filing upon the request of a party, but the clerk is not required to do so.
Sub. (7) provides that most routine fees be paid electronically, including filing, motion, and docketing fees, fines and forfeitures, court costs, and court-ordered attorney fees. Larger fees and deposits, such as condemnation awards, may be paid by other methods if ordered by the court or agreed to by the clerk of court. Attorneys should consult the Rules of Professional Conduct, SCR 20:1.15 (e)
, with respect to the restrictions on electronic transactions from trust accounts.
Sub. (9) requires parties filing documents by traditional methods, such as by hand delivery or by mail, to submit copies instead of original documents, to allow the clerk to eliminate the paper file. Discarding the paper copy is consistent with the rule governing facsimile copies, s. 801.16 (2) (e), which provides that the faxed copy is the official record, and the original, if received, should be discarded. The rule does not require the submitting party to retain original paper documents. If there is likely to be a challenge to the validity of a signature or exhibit, parties may be well-advised to keep the original paper document. For a high-volume law practice, the economics may not support keeping paper originals when the remainder of the file is electronic, and parties may prefer to assume the risk of failure of proof.
(3) provides that even when the clerk of court has electronically stored a court file, the clerk may not destroy the paper file until the time specified under SCR 72.03
(3) has expired.
Sub. (10) provides that electronic authentication satisfies the authentication requirements of Wisconsin Statutes, including ss. 801.02, 801.09 (4), and 909.02 (8). Statutory authentication requirements must be met upon filing of the summons and complaint in order to confer jurisdiction on the court. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Royal Ins. Co.
, 167 Wis. 2d 524
, 534 (1992). The purpose of authentication is to give assurance by the clerk that copies served are true copies of filed documents and to provide the case number for future reference. J.M.S. v. Benson
, 91 Wis. 2d 526
, 532 (Ct. App. 1979), rev'd on other grounds
, 98 Wis. 2d 406
(1980). The security and verifiability provided by the electronic filing system satisfy the purposes of the authentication requirements under statutes and case law.
Sub. (11) is intended to satisfy the standards for electronic notarization set by ss. 137.19 (the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act) and 706.25 (2) (c) (the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act). The rule should be interpreted flexibly to the extent that technical standards for electronic notarization evolve.
The function of the notary is to witness the signature and to administer an oath when one is required. See
ss. 706.07; 887.01; 887.03;
Kellner v. Christian
, 197 Wis. 2d 183
, 191 (1995). Notarial acts as defined by s. 706.07 (1) (c) include the ability to administer oaths, take acknowledgments and verifications, and authenticate or certify documents. The intent of this section is to allow notaries to perform traditional notarial functions using alternate technology, and to make them responsible for electronic notarization to the same extent they are responsible for traditional notarization. These functions may be performed not only by notaries public but also by a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court of record, or a court commissioner under s. 706.07 (3). This section provides that the electronic signature of one of these officials may be applied to a certificate of notarial acts certifying that the function was performed.
This section does not require the submitting party to retain original paper documents or exhibits bearing the notary's seal and signature. If there is likely to be a challenge to the validity of the notarization, parties may be well-advised to keep the paper copies. The court may require a party to produce the original paper document if validity of the notarization is challenged.
Sub. (12) adopts the definition of electronic signature appearing in ss. 137.11 (8) and 706.25 (1) (d). Consistent with s. 137.15 (4), it provides that if a law requires a signature, an electronic signature applied through the electronic filing system satisfies that requirement.
The Wisconsin legislature has affirmed the trend toward acceptance of electronic signatures in government records and commercial transactions. At the request of the Wisconsin Director of State Courts, 2003 Wisconsin Act 294
(the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act) exempted court filings from coverage in order to allow the court to develop its own technical and legal standards. This section now allows the electronic signing and filing of those documents described in s. 137.12 (2m), as well as all other documents filed with the court.
Compliance with this section satisfies the signature requirements of ss. 801.09 (3), 802.05 (1), and 805.07 (4) (a), as well as all other statutes and rules relating to court documents. Appellate decisions have reasoned that counsel's personal signature is necessary to confer jurisdiction on the court, to assure that the pleadings are well-grounded in law and fact, and to prevent the unauthorized practice of law. See Schaefer v. Riegelman
, 2002 WI 18
, 250 Wis. 2d 494
Novak v. Phillips
, 2001 WI App 156
, 246 Wis. 2d 673
, 680-81; Jadair, Inc. v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co.
, 209 Wis. 2d 187
, 211-12 (1997). For users of the electronic filing system, the identification procedures, security, and personal accountability provided by these rules are deemed to satisfy the purposes of a handwritten signature and all other signature requirements.
The intent of this section is to make attorneys and self-represented parties responsible for electronic filings to the same extent they are responsible for paper filings. For that reason, the rule does not include a provision allowing attorneys to reveal their electronic signatures to office staff so the staff can apply the signature; the attorney must review each electronically filed document and apply his or her electronic signature personally. The courts and the Office of Lawyer Regulation have a range of sanctions and disciplinary measures that will serve as an adequate deterrent to any misuse of electronic signatures.
This section does not require the submitting party to retain original paper documents bearing handwritten signatures. If there is likely to be a challenge to the validity of the signature, the submitting party may be well-advised to keep the original document.
Sub. (13) provides electronic signatures for those court officials whose duties require them to sign documents in circuit court case files, including circuit court judges, clerks of circuit court, registers in probate, juvenile clerks, and circuit court commissioners appointed under s. 757.68 and SCR 75.02
(1). Electronic signatures may also be provided for the chief justice and the director of state courts to use for assignment of judges pursuant to SCR 70.23
and 70.24. A district court administrator may be the designee of a chief judge for purposes of judicial assignment.
Under this section, court officials may allow an authorized staff member to apply the official's electronic signature at the official's specific direction. Appellate decisions have reasoned that counsel's personal signature is necessary to confer jurisdiction on the court, to assure that the pleadings are well-grounded in law and fact, and to prevent the unauthorized practice of law. No case has examined the signature requirements for court officials, and the reasoning behind previous decisions seems inapplicable. Each court official remains responsible for reviewing, revising and approving the document before the electronic signature is applied, and should be held accountable as if the document were signed personally. The electronic signature shall be applied in accordance with the provisions of SCR 70.42
Sub. (14) provides that the electronic filing system shall protect those case types made confidential by statutes. Within an open case type, certain documents may be sealed by statute, such as presentence reports, financial disclosure forms, psychological evaluations, and certain health care records. This section places the burden on the submitting party to identify those documents as confidential. Confidential information may also be contained within an otherwise open document, such as a trade secret; the burden is on the filing party to move to seal those documents. As an added protection, the electronic filing system will mark confidential documents in a way that will be visible on the computer screen and when the documents are printed.
Sub. (15) addresses technical failures of the court's electronic filing system or the user's electronic systems. Technical failures may include an error in the transmission of the document to the electronic filing system or to a served party, a failure to process the document upon receipt by the electronic filing system, or erroneous exclusion of a party from the service list by the electronic filing system.
Correction of technical failures should generally be allowed in order to encourage the use of the electronic filing system. Correction should be automatic where the user can demonstrate that the problem was caused by the court's electronic filing system. The electronic filing system will generate a report if needed for a user to document the problem. Where the failure is caused by the user's electronic systems (such as electronic mail, word processing, or a database program) or by external forces (such as problems with the user's Internet service provider or power outages), the court has the discretion to correct the problem. The court should consider what consequences would follow a missed deadline for traditional filings, caused by forces such as malfunctioning equipment or traffic delays. The committee considered limiting the court's discretion to correct technical errors in the filing of initiating documents, where untimely filing is a jurisdictional issue, but decided against creating a bright-line rule because of occasional exceptions such as St. John's Home of Milwaukee v. Continental Casualty Co.
, 147 Wis. 2d 764
, 788-89 (Ct. App. 1988) and Granado v. Sentry Ins.
, 228 Wis. 2d 794
, 799 (Ct. App. 1999).
Paperless Courts: E-Filing in Wisconsin Circuit Courts. Bousquet & Vandercook. Wis. Law. July 2008.
Venue in civil actions or special proceedings. 801.50(1)(1)
A defect in venue shall not affect the validity of any order or judgment.
Except as otherwise provided by statute, venue in civil actions or special proceedings shall be as follows:
In the county where the real or tangible personal property, or some part thereof, which is the subject of the claim, is situated;
In the county where a defendant resides or does substantial business; or
If the provisions under par. (a)
do not apply, then venue shall be in any county designated by the plaintiff.
Except as provided in pars. (b)
, all actions in which the sole defendant is the state, any state board or commission, or any state officer, employee, or agent in an official capacity shall be venued in the county designated by the plaintiff unless another venue is specifically authorized by law.
All actions relating to the validity or invalidly of a rule shall be venued as provided in s. 227.40 (1)
An action commenced by a prisoner, as defined under s. 801.02 (7) (a) 2.
, in which the sole defendant is the state, any state board or commission, or any state officer, employee, or agent in an official capacity shall be venued in Dane County unless another venue is specifically authorized by law.
Venue of an action seeking a remedy available by habeas corpus shall be in the county:
Where the plaintiff was convicted or sentenced if the action seeks relief from a judgment of conviction or sentence under which the plaintiff's liberty is restrained.
Where the liberty of the plaintiff is restrained if the action seeks relief concerning any other matter relating to a restraint on the liberty of the plaintiff.
Venue of an action to challenge the apportionment of any congressional or state legislative district shall be as provided in s. 751.035
. Not more than 5 days after an action to challenge the apportionment of a congressional or state legislative district is filed, the clerk of courts for the county where the action is filed shall notify the clerk of the supreme court of the filing.
Venue of an action for certiorari to review a probation, extended supervision, or parole revocation, a denial by a program review committee under s. 302.113 (9g)
of a petition for modification of a bifurcated sentence, or a refusal of parole shall be the county in which the relator was last convicted of an offense for which the relator was on probation, extended supervision, or parole or for which the relator is currently incarcerated.
Venue of an action for certiorari brought by the department of corrections under s. 302.113 (9) (d)
or 302.114 (9) (d)
to review a decision to not revoke extended supervision shall be in the county in which the person on extended supervision was convicted of the offense for which he or she is on extended supervision.
Venue of an environmental pollution action brought by a person who is not a resident of this state against a commission created under s. 200.23
shall be in the county which contains the 1st class city that is located wholly or partially within the applicable district created under s. 200.23
Venue of an action under s. 813.12
growing out of domestic abuse shall be in the county in which the cause of action arose, where the petitioner or the respondent resides or where the petitioner is temporarily living.
Venue of an action under s. 813.122
shall be in the county in which the cause of action arose or where the petitioner or the respondent resides.
Except as otherwise provided in ss. 801.52
and 971.223 (1)
, venue in a civil action to impose a forfeiture upon a resident of this state for a violation of chs. 5
, subch. III of ch. 13
, or subch. III of ch. 19
, or for a violation of any other law arising from or in relation to the official functions of the subject of the investigation or any matter that involves elections, ethics, or lobbying regulation under chs. 5
, subch. III of ch. 13
, or subch. III of ch. 19
, shall be in circuit court for the county where the defendant resides. For purposes of this subsection, a person other than a natural person resides within a county if the person's principal place of operation is located within that county. This subsection does not affect which prosecutor has responsibility under s. 978.05 (2)
to prosecute civil actions arising from violations under s. 971.223 (1)
The county in which a court order requiring the respondent to submit a biological specimen to the state crime laboratories for deoxyribonucleic acid analysis was entered.
The county in which any court proceeding was held that resulted in a requirement that the respondent submit a biological specimen to the state crime laboratories for deoxyribonucleic acid analysis.
History: 1983 a. 204
; 1985 a. 234
; 1987 a. 208
; 1993 a. 318
; 1997 a. 283
; 1999 a. 150
; 2001 a. 30
; 2001 a. 109
; 2007 a. 1
; 2009 a. 28
; 2011 a. 21
See s. 813.02 (4)
for exception to sub. (1) as to venue.
Judicial Council Note, 1983: Sub. (1) is designed to separate questions of venue from questions of jurisdiction and competency. A defect in venue is not jurisdictional and does not affect the competence of the court. The cure for a defect in venue is to change the place of trial.
Sub. (2) liberalizes the present venue statute by providing the plaintiff with a broader range of initial venue choices. This subsection also deletes many of the archaic distinctions in the former statute.
The following list contains many, but not all, of the specialized venue provisions not found in chapter 801: s. 48.185 (children's code proceedings); s. 48.83 (adoption of minors); s. 51.45 (13) (n) (civil mental commitments); s. 767.65 (11) Revised (proceedings under the uniform reciprocal enforcement oF. Support act); s. 77.12 (forest croplands tax act); s. 111.60 (Wisconsin employment relations act); s. 144.73 (4) [now s. 291.95 (4)] (hazardous waste act); s. 185.44 (1) (cooperative contracts); s. 195.07 (railroad regulation act); s. 196.44 (3) (public utilities regulation act); s. 198.12 (2) (municipal power and water district act); s. 215.02 (5) (savings and loan association act); s. 227.16 (1) (administrative procedure act); s. 232.38 (solid waste recycling authority act); s. 234.22 (housing finance authority act); s. 345.31 (motor vehicle act); s. 421.401 (Wisconsin consumer act); s. 645.04 (1) (insurers rehabilitation and liquidation act); [s. 655.19 (health care liability and patients compensation)]; s. 701.14 (4) (living trusts); s. 752.21 (court of appeals); s. 753.065 (naturalization proceedings); s. 757.89 (Wisconsin judicial commission); s. 776.13 (annulment of corporate charters); s. 779.20 (log liens); s. 799.11 (small claims actions); s. 800.15 (municipal court appeals); s. 880.05 (guardianship actions); s. 882.03 (adult adoptions); s. 971.19 (criminal proceedings); s. 979.01 (inquests of the dead); s. 23.90 (conservation act); s. 45.50 (3) (soldiers and sailors civil relief); and s. 753.34 (5) (Menominee and Shawano counties).
Sub. (3) remains the same in substance.
Subs. (4) and (5) remain unchanged.
Sub. (6) recognizes the authority of the judge to change venue under s. 801.52. [Bill 324-S]
"Substantial business" under sub. (2) (c) is discussed. Enpro Assessment Corp. v. Enpro Plus, Inc. 171 Wis. 2d 542
, 492 N.W.2d 325
(Ct. App. 1992).
"Where the liberty of the plaintiff is restrained" under sub. (4) (b) is the county where the plaintiff is confined. State ex rel. Frederick v. McCaugherty, 173 Wis. 2d 222
, 496 N.W.2d 327
(Ct. App. 1992).
A certiorari proceeding to review a probation revocation must be heard in the circuit court of conviction, but it need not be heard by the same branch. Drow v. Schwarz, 225 Wis. 2d 362
, 592 N.W.2d 623
Sections 801.50 and 801.51, the general venue statutes, do not apply to actions arising from consumer credit transactions. Rather, the venue provision in s. 421.401 applies. Brunton v. Nuvell Credit Corporation, 2010 WI 50
, 325 Wis. 2d 135
, 785 N. W. 2d 302, 07-1253
Wisconsin's revised venue statutes. Fullin, WBB September, 1984.
Challenges to improper venue.
Any party may challenge venue, on the grounds of noncompliance with s. 801.50
or any other statute designating proper venue, by filing a motion for change of venue:
At or before the time the party serves his or her first motion or responsive pleading in the action.
After the time set forth in sub. (1)
, upon a showing that despite reasonable diligence, the party did not discover the grounds therefor at or before that time.
History: 1983 a. 228
Judicial Council Note, 1983: This section sets forth the procedure for challenging the plaintiff's initial choice of venue on the grounds that it fails to comply with the provisions of s. 801.50 or any other statute specifying proper venue. The former statute's 2-stage proceeding was unnecessary and tended to create confusion for unwary litigants. [Bill 324-S]