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September 2012 Archives

Voter ID Update

Attorney Susan Crawford presented an update on the League of Women Voter's legal challenge to the Wisconsin Voter ID law to a group of over 50 attorneys at an informational session held in Madison on August 22, 2012. The session, coordinated by Obama for America, trained and prepared attorneys to serve as volunteer election observers. Susan presented an overview of the provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, which requires Wisconsin voters to show a photo ID in order to vote; explained the legal theory of the League of Women Voter's constitutional challenge to the law; and provided a procedural history of the litigation to date. Pines Bach is proud to be representing the League in this challenge. August 2012.

Guidance Provided to Community Leaders

Attorney Jeff Vercauteren gave a presentation titled Clearing the Air About Wind Siting at a leadership development program held in Madison. The program, Leadership Wisconsin, coordinated by the UW Extension, educates community, business, and organizational leaders about current community challenges and opportunities. Jeff's presentation discussed the current state policy and business landscape for the siting of wind energy systems. Renewable energy development is a special focus of the Energy & Telecommunications practice group at CWPB, which provides comprehensive counsel on renewable energy transactional, regulatory, and governmental relations issues. July 2012.

CWPB Facilitates Development of Wind Energy Facility

The Cashton Greens Wind Farm in Cashton, Wisconsin, southeast of La Crosse, held its grand opening celebration this week. This innovative community wind facility consists of two wind turbines with a total capacity of five megawatts, producing enough electricity to power approximately 1,000 homes. The project will also help offset power consumed at several Organic Valley facilities and represents about five percent of Gundersen Lutheran Health System's energy independence goal.

New Trial Granted

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has granted Attorney Tamara Packard's client Carl Schoh a new trial, after a Green County judge erroneously ordered that an employee's wage claim case be tried by a jury. The jury trial was ordered at the defendant New Glarus Brewing Company's request, made after attorneys for both parties had waived their clients' rights to a jury. The trial court granted the request based on the fact that defense counsel had failed to timely ask his client about whether it wanted to demand a jury. The Court of Appeals found that "it was not reasonably prudent" for defense counsel to waive his client's right to a jury without consulting with his client. It therefore ruled that the trial court could not excuse this neglect and allow the defendant to make a belated jury request. The Court of Appeals went on to find that the trial judge's error was not harmless. The Court reasoned that "common sense and experience tell us that judges and juries frequently view cases differently," and therefore granted Schoh a new trial. May 2012.

CWPB Mourns

It is with great sadness that Pines Bach announces Attorney Laurie Mlatawou's death on Saturday, May 19, 2012. Mother, attorney, friend to many and seeker of justice for all, she fought her battle with cancer just as she did everything else: with strength and determination. Laurie joined CWPB as an associate in September 2010 with the aim of developing a bilingual general practice, to provide a wide variety of legal services to the Spanish-speaking community.

Statewide Wind Siting Rules Go Into Effect

On behalf of the wind energy industry, CWPB's governmental relations team helped score a major victory in the Wisconsin Legislature when the legislature adjourned without indefinitely suspending PSC 128, the rule governing the siting of wind energy facilities adopted by the Public Service Commission.

Election Results Declared

Attorneys Lester Pines and Tamara Packard utilized the ancient quo warranto action to obtain judicial declaration that their clients are the rightfully elected officers of the Madison Audubon Society. The vote was 188 to 55. The lawsuit arose because the MAS refused to recognize the membership of over 170 individuals who joined the organization on the day of the election and voted for those whom the MAS subsequently refused to recognize as the winners of the election. A Dane County judge found that the new members were in fact members entitled to cast ballots in the election and to have those ballots counted. March 2012.

League Proper to Bring Voter ID Case

Ruling that the League of Women Voters and its President may pursue a constitutional challenge to Wisconsin's Voter ID law, Circuit Court Judge Niess reasoned that the League of Women Voters and its President are in an excellent position to carefully develop and zealously present the arguments regarding the constitutionality of the law. He ruled that the case was appropriately before the court, because "Without question, declaratory relief on the constitutionality of photo identification requirements in Act 23 serves a useful, indeed profound, purpose." The court also declined the defendants' motion to dismiss Governor Walker from the lawsuit, ruling that Walker is a proper defendant. The League is represented in this lawsuit by Attorneys Lester Pines, Susan Crawford and Tamara Packard. March 2012.

Allegations Unfounded

A Wisconsin nurse wrongly accused of mishandling narcotics and possible drug diversion received the good news that the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (formerly Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing) would take no action against the nurse's license. The allegations had been brought to the DSPS's attention by a department head at the hospital where the nurse worked. Attorney Linda Harfst assisted the nurse in preparing a successful response to the agency's investigation. January 2012.

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