2012 News

2012 News

Pines Profiled by Capital Times

Madison’s Capital Times newspaper ran a front page profile of CWPB partner  Lester Pines today. The article highlights Lester’s acumen as a trial lawyer, the respect he has earned from others in the legal community, and the Firm’s recent successes in enjoining three unconstitutional laws enacted in the 2011 legislative session: the Wisconsin Voter ID law, the collective bargaining law, and the administrative rules law.

A sidebar article charts Lester’s development as an attorney and leader in the community, and the important role that his family has played in his life.

Super Lawyers at Pines Bach LLP

This year’s listing of Wisconsin Super Lawyers is out, and once again we are proud to announce that our peers have voted to include many CWPB attorneys on the list:

  • Steve Bach (family law)
  • Jordan Loeb (criminal defense)
  • Tamara Packard (employment and labor)
  • Lester Pines (general litigation)
  • Alison TenBruggencate (family law)

This year is Alison TenBruggencate’s first year on the list; the other CWPB attorneys listed here have been named to this list in prior years as well. Only 5% of Wisconsin attorneys are named to the list each year.

The complete list of Wisconsin Super Lawyers will be published in the December 2012 issue of Wisconsin Super Lawyers magazine and sent to attorneys in Wisconsin. Selected attorneys from the list will be recognized in the December 2012 issue of Milwaukee Magazine and in the January 2013 issue of Madison Magazine.

Please join us in congratulating Steve, Jordan, Tamara, Lester and Alison for this singular recognition.

The Act 10 Ruling and Reactions by the State, Employers and Unions

On September 14, 2012, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that significant portions of Act 10, the drastic revisions made in 2011 to the law that governed Wisconsin’s public employee unions and the scope of collective bargaining, were unconstitutional. Among other things, the judge struck down Act 10’s severe limitation on the unions’ and municipal employers’ ability to bargain wages and prohibition against bargaining other employment terms, the prohibition on dues deductions from union members’ salaries, and the requirement of annual recertification elections by supermajorities. Plaintiff Madison Teachers, Inc. is represented in the case by CWPB attorneys Lester Pines, and  Tamara Packard.

Within minutes of release of the judge’s decision, Governor Walker attacked the judge, claiming that he was a biased, liberal Dane County jurist. In a press conference the following day, Lester Pines described the Governor’s attack on the judge as “bad manners” and said “All I can predict is that anytime Governor Walker gets a negative ruling from any of the courts he’s going to cry like a baby and whine and say they’re politically biased.”

Wisconsin’s Attorney General, who represents the Governor and the other defendants in the case, promptly filed for appeal and asked Judge Colas for a stay of his order. The Attorney General did not repudiate Governor Walker’s personal attack on the judge, however. That failure led Attorney Pines to send a letter to the Attorney General reminding him of his obligation as an attorney to refrain from personal attacks on judges and stating that his silence in the face of Governor Walker’s behavior was acquiesence.

Immediately following the ruling, at least some municipal employers and their employees’ unions took the opportunity to return to the bargaining table and engage in broader negotiations than were allowed prior to the ruling. New collective bargaining agreements, reflecting mutually agreed upon solutions, were reached in Dane County, the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District. Those agreements provide for labor peace and harmonious, cooperative relations between the parties, and extend into 2014 and 2015.

A ruling from Judge Colas on the State’s request for a stay is anticipated soon.

CWPB Assists with First Dane County Wind Project

Adding to the list of wind projects we have provided legal services to in recent years, CWPB helped secure final town approval for a new wind project in Dane County last week. The new project is owned by Epic Systems, a Madison-based medical software company, and will significantly expand the company’s existing portfolio of renewable energy generation that also includes the largest solar energy system in the state.

The project will be located northwest of Madison and will be visible from taller buildings in downtown Madison, including the state capitol. This is the fourth wind project CWPB has helped develop in Wisconsin and the second community-based wind project in the state. CWPB has also assisted developers in several other proposed projects in the state.

CWPB assisted in developing the first wind project in Wisconsin in 1999, located in Kewaunee County. More recently, CWPB represented Emerging Energies of Wisconsin in the development of the 20-megawatt Shirley Wind Project near Green Bay, constructed in 2010. CWPB also represented CROPP Cooperative and Gundersen Lutheran Health System in the development of the five-megawatt Cashton Greens Project near La Crosse, constructed earlier this year.

For more on the new wind project, see the story published in the Wisconsin State Journal.

CWPB Launches Victory Report Blog and Revamped Website

Pines Bach LLP has revamped its website, including adding this blog, the CWPB Victory Report. We invite you to subscribe to our blog for up-to-the-minute news of our victories, both in and outside of court, and information about a wide variety of legal topics.

New pages have also been added to our website, including one highlighting our ability to provide skilled legal defense to juveniles accused of illegal behavior, and another describing our unique niche supporting the development of wind energy in and around Wisconsin. Browse around and meet the wonderful people who make up our firm. See how our values, including a belief that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law, and an insistence on courtesy and respect, drive us to achieve great results for our clients.

Of course, should you find yourself in need of legal representation or advice, please feel free drop us a line, using the handy “Contact Us” box on our pages. We will review your message and contact you if we think we can be of assistance.

Voter ID Update

Attorney 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. She 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 LLP is proud to be representing the League in this challenge. August 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 LLP 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.

Laurie played a key role in many important lawsuits handled by the firm, including our defense of the state’s Domestic Partnership Law, our state constitutional challenge to the new collective bargaining law for public employees, and claims for workers who were denied their full pay or discriminated against by their employers. She had a natural ability to understand the difficulties her clients were facing, and to assist them with compassion and strength. May 2012.

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.

In March 2012, just hours before the rule was set to go into effect, the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) had temporarily suspended it, resulting in cancellations of proposed wind energy facilities across the state.

Bills introduced to permanently suspend the rule, SB-50 and AB-72, failed to pass the Legislature, after an effective campaign by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association (WEBA), a coalition of wind-related companies interested in clean-energy investment and employment in Wisconsin. March 2012.

Election Results Declared

Attorneys Lester Pines and Tamara Packard utilized the ancient quo warrantoaction 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 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. January 2012.

CWPB to Represent Major Telecommunications Company in Streetcar Case

The City of Milwaukee is planning to build new streetcar lines in the downtown area. The case will determine whether the City or a utility, like tw telecom, will have to pay to relocate underground utility lines during construction. The projected cost to relocate the underground facilities could exceed $70 million. January 2012.

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