VIIARTICLE VII.
JUDICIARY
VII,1 Impeachment; trial. Section 1. [As amended Nov. 1932] The court for the trial of impeachments shall be composed of the senate. The assembly shall have the power of impeaching all civil officers of this state for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors; but a majority of all the members elected shall concur in an impeachment. On the trial of an impeachment against the governor, the lieutenant governor shall not act as a member of the court. No judicial officer shall exercise his office, after he shall have been impeached, until his acquittal. Before the trial of an impeachment the members of the court shall take an oath or affirmation truly and impartially to try the impeachment according to evidence; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, or removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of honor, profit or trust under the state; but the party impeached shall be liable to indictment, trial and punishment according to law. [1929 J.R. 72, 1931 J.R. 58, vote Nov. 1932]

VII,2 Court system. Section 2. [As amended April 1966 and April 1977] The judicial power of this state shall be vested in a unified court system consisting of one supreme court, a court of appeals, a circuit court, such trial courts of general uniform statewide jurisdiction as the legislature may create by law, and a municipal court if authorized by the legislature under section 14. [1963 J.R. 48, 1965 J.R. 50, vote April 1966; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

The Shawano-Menominee court was a constitutional district court since Menominee county was not organized for judicial purposes. Pamanet v. State, 49 Wis. 2d 501, 182 N.W.2d 459.

If s. 425.113 were to be interpreted so as to remove a court's power to issue a body attachment for one who chooses to ignore its orders, that interpretation would cause the statute to be unconstitutional as a violation of the principle of separation of powers. Smith v. Burns, 65 Wis. 2d 638, 223 N.W.2d 562.

Courts have no inherent power to stay or suspend the execution of a sentence in the absence of statutory authority. A court's refusal to impose a legislatively mandated sentence constitutes an abuse of discretion and usurpation of the legislative field. State v. Sittig, 75 Wis. 2d 497, 249 N.W.2d 770.

WERC is authorized by s. 111.06 (1) (L) to determine whether conduct in violation of criminal law has occurred, which is not a delegation of judicial power in violation of Art. VII, sec. 2 nor does the administrative procedure violate Art. I, sec. 8. Layton School of Art & Design v. WERC, 82 Wis. 2d 324, 262 N.W.2d 218.

Courts have no inherent power to dismiss a criminal complaint with prejudice prior to attachment of jeopardy. State v. Braunsdorf, 92 Wis. 2d 849, 286 N.W.2d 14 (Ct. App. 1979).

The highest standard of proof of an articulated compelling need must be met before a court will order the expenditure of public funds for its own needs. Flynn v. Department of Administration, 216 Wis. 2d 521, 576 N.W.2d 245 (1998), 96-3266.

Judicial assistants are subject to the judiciary's exclusive authority once appointed. Any collective bargaining agreement between a county and employee's union that provides for possible "bumping" of the assistant by another employee and final and binding arbitration regarding disputes over bumping is an unconstitutional infringement on the court's inherent powers. Barland v. Eau Claire County, 216 Wis. 2d 560, 575 N.W.2d 691 (1998), 96-1607.

Probation and probation revocation are within the powers shared by the branches of government. Legislative delegation of revocation to the executive branch does not unduly burden or substantially interfere with the judiciary's constitutional function to impose criminal penalties. State v. Horn, 226 Wis. 2d 637, 594 N.W.2d 772 (1999), 97-2751.

A court's inherent powers are those that must be used to enable the judiciary to accomplish its constitutional or statutory functions and include the power to maintain the dignity of the court, transact its business, or accomplish the purpose of its existence. Courts have inherent power to investigate claims that a party is engaging in fraudulent behavior or improperly influencing witnesses, and a court is within its authority to hold an evidentiary hearing on such matters. Schultz v. Sykes, 2001 WI App 255, 248 Wis. 2d 746, 638 N.W.2d 604, 00-0915.

In mental hearings under 51.02, 1973 stats., or alcohol or drug abuse hearings under 51.09 (1), 1973 stats., the power to appoint an attorney at public expense, to determine indigency and to fix compensation are judicial and must be exercised by the court or under its direction and cannot be limited by the county board or delegated to a private nonprofit corporation. 63 Atty. Gen. 323.

Unless acting in a clear absence of all jurisdiction, judges are immune from liability for judicial acts, even when such acts are in excess of their jurisdiction and are alleged to have been done maliciously or corruptly. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978).

An integrated state bar's use of mandatory dues to fund political or ideological activities violates free speech provisions. Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 226, 110 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1990).

Court reform of 1977: The Wisconsin supreme court ten years later. Bablitch. 72 MLR 1 (1988).

The separation of powers control of courts and lawyers. Currie, Resh, 1974 WBB No. 6.

VII,3 Supreme court: jurisdiction. Section 3. [As amended April 1977]
VII,3(1) (1) The supreme court shall have superintending and administrative authority over all courts.

VII,3(2) (2) The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction over all courts and may hear original actions and proceedings. The supreme court may issue all writs necessary in aid of its jurisdiction.

VII,3(3) (3) The supreme court may review judgments and orders of the court of appeals, may remove cases from the court of appeals and may accept cases on certification by the court of appeals. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

The authority of supreme court to review and modify criminal sentences is discussed. Riley v. State, 47 Wis. 2d 801, 177 N.W.2d 838.

The supreme court's authority to issue a writ of error is not dependent upon a specific legislative enactment, but the constitution and statutes relating to its appellate jurisdiction give it the authority to issue such writs as are necessary to exercise its appellate jurisdiction. Shave v. State, 49 Wis. 2d 379, 182 N.W.2d 505.

A writ of error coram nobis cannot be used for the purpose of producing newly discovered evidence affecting only the credibility of a confession. Mikulovsky v. State, 54 Wis. 2d 699, 196 N.W.2d 748.

The supreme court exercises an inherent supervisory power over the practice of the law and this can be more effectively exercised with an independent review. Contrary language, if any, in prior cases withdrawn. Herro, McAndrews & Porter v. Gerhardt, 62 Wis. 2d 179, 214 N.W.2d 401.

The supreme court declines to adopt the equitable doctrine of "substituted judgment" under which a court substitutes its judgment for that of a person incompetent to arrive at a decision for himself or herself. In re Guardianship of Pescinski, 67 Wis. 2d 4, 226 N.W.2d 180.

Adoption by the supreme court of a rule 17 requiring annual financial disclosure by judges of assets and liabilities was valid and enforceable under the court's inherent power to function as the supreme court and under the court's general superintending control over all inferior courts. In re Hon. Charles E. Kading, 70 Wis. 2d 508, 235 N.W.2d 409.

A declaration of rights is an appropriate vehicle for the exercise of superintending control over inferior courts. State ex rel. Memmel v. Mundy, 75 Wis. 2d 276, 249 N.W.2d 573.

The supreme court has power to formulate and carry into effect a court system budget. Moran v. Dept. of Admin. 103 Wis. 2d 311, 307 N.W.2d 658 (1981).

The court will invalidate legislation only for constitutional violations. State ex rel. La Follette v. Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d 358, 338 N.W.2d 684 (1983).

A statute that required the withholding of a judge's salary for failure to decide cases within a specified time was an unconstitutional intrusion by the legislature into an area of exclusive judicial authority. In Matter of Complaint Against Grady, 118 Wis. 2d 762, 348 N.W.2d 559 (1984).

When confronted with a direct conflict between a decision of the state supreme court and a later decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on a matter of federal law, the court of appeals may certify the case to the state supreme court under s. 809.61. If it does not, or certification is not accepted, the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution compels adherence to U.S. Supreme Court precedent on matters of federal law, although it means deviating from a conflicting decision of the state supreme court. State v. Jennings, 2002 WI 44, 252 Wis. 2d 228, 647 N.W.2d 142, 00-1680.

The Virginia supreme court was not immune from suit under s. 1983. Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers Union, 446 U.S. 719 (1980).

Inherent power and administrative court reform. 58 MLR 133.

VII,4 Supreme court: election, chief justice, court system administration. Section 4. [As amended Nov. 1877, April 1889, April 1903 and April 1977]
VII,4(1) (1) The supreme court shall have 7 members who shall be known as justices of the supreme court. Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office commencing with the August 1 next succeeding the election. Only one justice may be elected in any year. Any 4 justices shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of the court's business.

VII,4(2) (2) The justice having been longest a continuous member of said court, or in case 2 or more such justices shall have served for the same length of time, the justice whose term first expires, shall be the chief justice. The justice so designated as chief justice may, irrevocably, decline to serve as chief justice or resign as chief justice but continue to serve as a justice of the supreme court.

VII,4(3) (3) The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system and shall exercise this administrative authority pursuant to procedures adopted by the supreme court. The chief justice may assign any judge of a court of record to aid in the proper disposition of judicial business in any court of record except the supreme court. [1876 J.R. 10, 1877 J.R. 1, 1877 c. 48, vote Nov. 1877; 1887 J.R. 5, 1889 J.R. 3, 1889 c. 22, vote April 1889; 1901 J.R. 8, 1903 J.R. 7, 1903 c. 10, vote April 1903; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

Voting and Electoral Politics in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Czarnezki. 87 MLR 323.

VII,5 Judicial circuits. Section 5. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,5 Court of appeals. Section 5. [As created April 1977]
VII,5(1) (1) The legislature shall by law combine the judicial circuits of the state into one or more districts for the court of appeals and shall designate in each district the locations where the appeals court shall sit for the convenience of litigants.

VII,5(2) (2) For each district of the appeals court there shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the district one or more appeals judges as prescribed by law, who shall sit as prescribed by law. Appeals judges shall be elected for 6-year terms and shall reside in the district from which elected. No alteration of district or circuit boundaries shall have the effect of removing an appeals judge from office during the judge's term. In case of an increase in the number of appeals judges, the first judge or judges shall be elected for full terms unless the legislature prescribes a shorter initial term for staggering of terms.

VII,5(3) (3) The appeals court shall have such appellate jurisdiction in the district, including jurisdiction to review administrative proceedings, as the legislature may provide by law, but shall have no original jurisdiction other than by prerogative writ. The appeals court may issue all writs necessary in aid of its jurisdiction and shall have supervisory authority over all actions and proceedings in the courts in the district. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

The court of appeals does not have jurisdiction to entertain an original action unrelated to its supervisory or appellate authority over circuit courts. State ex rel. Swan v. Elections Board, 133 Wis. 2d 87, 394 N.W.2d 732 (1986).

The court of appeals is authorized to exercise its supervisory authority over a chief judge who is ruling on a substitution request. James L.J. v. Walworth County Circuit Court, 200 Wis. 2d 496, 546 N.W.2d 460 (1996), 94-2043.

Only the supreme court has the power to overrule, modify, or withdraw language from a published opinion of the court of appeals. Cook v. Cook, 208 Wis. 2d 166, 560 N.W.2d 246 (1997), 95-1963.

A Shift in the Bottleneck: The Appellate Caseload Problem Twenty Years After the Creation of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Garlys. 1998 WLR 1547.

VII,6 Circuit court: boundaries. Section 6. [As amended April 1977] The legislature shall prescribe by law the number of judicial circuits, making them as compact and convenient as practicable, and bounding them by county lines. No alteration of circuit boundaries shall have the effect of removing a circuit judge from office during the judge's term. In case of an increase of circuits, the first judge or judges shall be elected. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,7 Circuit court: election. Section 7. [As amended April 1897, Nov. 1924 and April 1977] For each circuit there shall be chosen by the qualified electors thereof one or more circuit judges as prescribed by law. Circuit judges shall be elected for 6-year terms and shall reside in the circuit from which elected. [1895 J.R. 8, 1897 J.R. 9, 1897 c. 69, vote April 1897; 1921 J.R. 24S, 1923 J.R. 64, 1923 c. 408, vote Nov. 1924; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,8 Circuit court: jurisdiction. Section 8. [As amended April 1977] Except as otherwise provided by law, the circuit court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal within this state and such appellate jurisdiction in the circuit as the legislature may prescribe by law. The circuit court may issue all writs necessary in aid of its jurisdiction. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

Although prohibition is not the appropriate remedy to suppress prosecution on an illegal search warrant, the supreme court treated the case as a petition for habeas corpus. State ex rel. Furlong v. Waukesha County Court, 47 Wis. 2d 515, 177 N.W.2d 333.

Certiorari cannot be used to upset the legislative discretion of a city council but the court should review the council's action to determine whether there was a rational factual basis for it. The review is limited to the record consisting of the petition and the return to the writ, plus matters of which the court could take judicial notice. State ex rel. Hippler v. Baraboo, 47 Wis. 2d 603, 178 N.W.2d 1.

A writ of prohibition may not be used to test the admissibility of evidence at an impending trial. State ex rel. Cortez v. Bd. of F. & P. Comm. 49 Wis. 2d 130, 181 N.W.2d 378.

Jurisdiction depends not on whether the relief asked for is available, but on whether the court has the power to hear the kind of action brought. It is not defeated by the possibility that averments in a complaint might fail to state a cause of action, for any such failure calls for a judgment on the merits not for a dismissal for want of jurisdiction. Murphy v. Miller Brewing Co. 50 Wis. 2d 323, 184 N.W.2d 141.

Mandamus is a discretionary writ and the order of a trial court refusing to quash it will not be reversed except for an abuse of discretion. A court can treat it as a motion for declaratory relief. Milwaukee County v. Schmidt, 52 Wis. 2d 58, 187 N.W.2d 777.

Differences between common law and statutory certiorari are discussed. Browndale International v. Board of Adjustment, 60 Wis. 2d 182, 208 N.W.2d 121.

The statutory designation of circuit court branches as criminal court branches does not deprive other branches of criminal jurisdiction. Dumer v. State, 64 Wis. 2d 590, 219 N.W.2d 592.

Circuit court review of a decision of the city of Milwaukee Board of Fire and Police Commissioners was proper via writ of certiorari. Edmonds v. Board of Fire & Police Commrs. 66 Wis. 2d 337, 224 N.W.2d 575.

Loading...
Loading...
Wisconsin Constitution updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Published August 13, 2020. Click for the Coverage of Annotations for the Annotated Constitution. Report errors at 608.504.5801 or lrb.legal@legis.wisconsin.gov.