Wisconsin State Law Library

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September 28, 2012

Tips and tricks: WI Legislature website

If you missed our September class on using the Wisconsin Legislature website, you can still take advantage of these quick tips. We link to both the resources discussed below from the legislative branch section of our Wisconsin Law legal topic page.

Drafting Records

The 2011-2012 drafting files, official records of the bill drafting process, are now available online. Coverage for this valuable resource now spans from 1999 to 2012. Prior records (back to 1927) are only available in microfiche, which may be used at the Wisconsin State Law Library or the Legislative Reference Bureau Library.

Drafting records on the WI Legislature's website

Wisconsin Acts

Did you know that you can access older versions of the Wisconsin statutes, as well as Wisconsin acts from prior years from the legislature's website? The Wisconsin Law Archive provides access to statutes back to the 1969-1970 session and acts are linked back to the 1957-1958 session. Here's a tip we recently learned to access acts older than 1957.

If you edit the URL for any year back to 1949, the Acts for those years are available online as well.
  1. For example, take a link for the 1957-1958 acts:
  2. Edit the date in the URL to reflect the first date of a prior session (as far back as 1949). To access the 1951-1952 session's acts, we would type this into the browser:
Access acts from 1949 to 1956 with this quick URL-altering trick
If you have any questions about finding Wisconsin laws or using research resources, please Ask a Librarian.

September 25, 2012

Today is National Voter Registration Day

Tuesday, September 25th is National Voter Registration Day. Are you registered to vote? If not, learn how to register to vote at the WI Government Accountability Board (GAB) website.

The GAB also recently released a new Wisconsin Voter Information website. This site includes information for the typical Wisconsin resident, as well as a new system for overseas and military voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot.

Check our Voting legal topic page for links to laws and more information.

September 21, 2012

New Classes for Fall

Recently added to our website, we now have three CLE classes open for registration. In October, sign up to learn about the free Westlaw provided at the Wisconsin State Law Library. Instruction will cover databases and included treatises, and the class will offer useful tips on boolean and natural language searching. 

Also in October, Finding Wisconsin Public Records will help researchers discover criminal, state and local court, business, real estate, lien, foreclosure records, and more.

Our November class features tips for finding and using free Wisconsin appellate briefs online.

Learn more and sign up for all these classes from our Classes page!

September 19, 2012

The Life and Trial of Albert Hicks, Pirate!

In recognition of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we bring you this short excerpt from a book in our Rare Book collection, Celebrated Trials. This collection includes the following account of the crime of Albert W. Hicks, pirate and murderer.

"On Thursday, March 16th, the sloop "E.A. Johnson," sailed from the foot of Spring street, New York, for Deep Creek, Va., for a cargo of oysters.

...Wednesday the 22nd of March, the sloop was picked up by the schooner "Telegraph" of New London, in the lower bay, between the West Bank and the Romer Schoals. On being boarded, she was found to have been abandoned, as also to bear the most unmistakable evidence of foul play having taken place at some time, not remote. It was also evident that a collision had taken place with some other vessel, as her bowsprit had been carried away, and was then floating alongside, attached to her by the stays. Upon further examination, her deck appeared to have been washed with human blood, and her cabin bore dire marks of a desperate struggle for life."

The opening statement for the government instructs the jury on the difference between robbery on a street corner and the same act when it occurs in open water.
"The punishment, as you will perceive, for the offence [sic] committed upon the high seas [death], is different from its punishment when committed upon land. It is to protect more effectually and punish more thoroughly offences occurring upon vessels upon the high seas, where the protection for person and property is not so great as it can be on land, where individuals are so much surrounded by the police regulations to protect them and their property."

A detailed description of the evidence, crime scene, and Hicks' every move around the time of the crime followed the opening statement. Additional witnesses brought further tales of the Hicks' past pirate and privateer exploits.

The life, trial, confession and execution of Albert W. Hicks, pirate and murderer, executed on Bedloe's Island, New York Bay, on the 13th of July, 1860, for the murder of Capt. Burr and Smith and Oliver Watts, on board the oyster sloop E.A. Johnson ; containing the history of his life (written by himself) ... with a full account of his piracies, murders, mutinies, high-way robberies, etc., comprising the particulars of nearly one hundred murders! To which is added the account of his arrest, imprisonment, trial and execution. Also, his phrenological character, as described by L.N. Fowler

September 17, 2012

WSLL Recommends: The Law of Premises Liability

Our latest recommended title is The Law of Premises Liability, by Glen Weissenberger and Barbara B. McFarland.

This treatise addresses personal injury actions brought by entrants against owners or occupiers of land. Previously published as a hardbound volume with a paperbound annual supplement, it is now in looseleaf format with several updates ("releases") published each year. As such, it remains one of the most complete and up-to-date resources available on the law of premises liability.

Individual chapters cover:
  • Liability to trespassers, licensees or invitees for unintended harms
  • Public employees and recreational entrants
  • The Slip-and-fall case
  • Liability for other-than-negligent torts
  • Landlord and tenant
  • Suits against government: federal, state, municipal, and public housing authorities
  • Liability for harm caused by criminal acts of third persons
  • Liability of dramshop (bar or saloon) owners, social hosts and others for harm caused by intoxicated persons
Though this treatise discusses the latest case law from all 50 states, it does not provide a way to pinpoint the discussion of any particular state's cases or to determine which opinions of any given state court are discussed. Therefore, researchers interested in Wisconsin law might also want to consult titles such as Wisconsin Safe-Place Law, Premises Liability: Preparation and Trial of a Difficult Case in Wisconsin; and Elements of an Action (Wisconsin Practice Series, vol. 14).

September 14, 2012

Dial 7-1-1 to communicate!

Deaf Awareness Week is September 24-29, 2012. Did you know you can dial 7-1-1 to connect and communicate with any caller 24 hours a day? Dialing 7-1-1 will connect you with Wisconsin Relay, a free service throughout Wisconsin for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, and speech-disabled. All calls are private and confidential.

Deaf Awareness Week is a great time for businesses to educate their employees about Wisconsin Relay and the Please Don’t Hang Up campaign. The 7-1-1 service does not work with all business phone systems. See these alternative toll-free numbers to contact Wisconsin Relay.

September 9, 2012

National Grandparents Day

Did you know that Sunday, September 9th is National Grandparents Day in the United States? Thanks to the Utah State Law Library for bringing this to my attention. According to their blog,
"36 U.S.C. §125 states this commemorative day is designated the first Sunday after Labor Day. U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared the first National Grandparents Day in 1978 in a presidential proclamation."

This year's presidential proclamation by President Barack Obama can be read on the White House Briefing Room website.

We are regularly asked about grandparent rights and responsibilities, so we have a few pages on our website with information on the topic:

September 7, 2012

September is Juror Appreciation Month

Several county courts are planning activities to recognize the contribution of jurors this month. According to a Wisconsin Court System press release, activities across the state may include school visits, radio appearances, open houses, and decorations recognizing jurors for their service.

Contact your local clerk of circuit court for more information on how your county is observing Juror Appreciation Month.

Our library has many books dedicated to jury service and history. We also have several practical treatises on working with juries, including popular books of jury instructions. Here is just a sampling of them:

We also have a page on our website dedicated to juries, including links to information about jury duty and instructions to juries. Wisconsin Statutes on jury trials can also be found on our Civil and Criminal Law legal topic pages.

WSLL at Your Service: September 2012

The September issue of WSLL @ Your Service has been published.

In this issue: 

As always, your comments are welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Connie.VonDerHeide@wicourts.gov

September 3, 2012

Upcoming Class: WI Legislature Website

Sign up for our next class on the Wisconsin Legislature website - Wednesday, September 26 from 9-10 a.m.

In this hands-on overview of the Legislature's site you'll learn how to track legislative activity, locate bills and acts, and search the online Wisconsin Statutes. You'll also learn about the Legislative Notification Service, and where to find publications of the various Legislative Service Agencies.
Fee: $35.00. 1 CLE credit applied for.

Registration is limited to 8. You can register online now or print and send in a registration form.

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