Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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December 28, 2015

Libraries Closed December 31 and January 1

The Wisconsin State Law Library, and Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries will be closed on Thursday, December 31st and Friday, January 1st for state holidays. We will respond to questions and requests on Monday, January 4th.

To submit a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, you may call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

December 25, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Uber, Lyft & Rideshare Resources

As ridesharing becomes more popular, the need to research these services grows. This resource list is current as of January 2016.

General Information


Local Ordinances

  • Under 2015 Wisconsin Act 16 no city, village, town, or county may enact an ordinance regulating a transportation network company or its drivers or vehicles. See this Legislative Council memo for more information. There is an exception for airport use. 


December 21, 2015

Libraries Closed December 24 and 25

The Wisconsin State Law Library, and Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries will be closed on Thursday, December 24th and Friday, December 25th for state holidays. We will respond to questions and requests on Monday, December 28th.

To send a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, you may call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

December 16, 2015

Winter Class Schedule

Kick off 2016 right by signing up for a CLE class provided by our libraries. Coming up in January, learn about WestlawNext in Milwaukee and Madison with these three great classes:

In Milwaukee on January 14:
Introduction to Research on WestlawNext
Estate Planning Research

In Madison on January 19:
Advanced WestlawNext

In January and February sign up for our legislative history webinars - perfect for those of you who don't have time to travel to the library. Introduction to Legislative History is offered on January 28, with the advanced class to follow in February.

For more details and registration links, visit our Classes page.

December 15, 2015

Dane County Law Library Closed Today, 11-1 pm

The Dane County Law Library will be closed on Tuesday, December 15 from 11:30-1:00 p.m. Those who may need help during this time can go to the main library for help. The main library is just a few blocks away at 120 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in downtown Madison.

Look for the entrance that says "Risser Justice Center" above the doors at the corner of MLK and Doty. The library is located on the second floor. You can also contact the main library by phone (608-267-9696) or email during this time.

The Dane County Law Library will reopen at 1:00 p.m.

December 14, 2015

Donate Mittens, Gloves, Hats, Scarves

This year we are reprising our Helping Warm Hearts and Hands mitten and hat donation drive. The drive benefits Community Action Coalition (CAC).

Throughout December and into early January the State Law Library will collect donated mittens, hats, and scarves. Items of all sizes for adults and children are welcome through January 15, 2016. All donations will be taken to CAC for distribution to people in our community who need winter wear.

Bring your donations to the Wisconsin State Law Library circulation desk (the first desk you see when you walk in the door). You can donate at any time between now and January 15th.

Thank you!

December 7, 2015

Congratulations, Lynne Gehrke!

We are proud to announce that Lynne Gehrke, branch librarian at the Milwaukee County Law Library (MCLL), is a 2015 Wisconsin Law Journal Unsung Hero.

Lynne has headed MCLL since 2010 and shepherded the library through three location changes within the courthouse.

Over the years, Lynne built great working relationships with all the courthouse staff. These relationships have directly improved the staff's ability to help everyone who uses the law library.

We're very pleased to see all of her work recognized. Congratulations, Lynne!

New Bankruptcy Forms

Effective December 1, 2015 official bankruptcy forms in use by U.S. Courts were replaced with revised, reformatted, and renumbered forms.

The Eastern District court website has a PDF file of all the revised forms and an attorney implementation guide. The Western District court website has a guide for attorneys about changes on the form and schedules.

We have several books in our collection about bankruptcy. One of these resources published by the National Consumer Law Center gives us access right now to brand new sample forms for a Chapter 7 case. Ask a librarian for help accessing these newly updated sample forms.

December 3, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: December 2015

This month we have a lot of news to share. In a few weeks, on December 16, stop by the library for our annual open house and bring some mittens, gloves, or scarves to donate to the Community Action Coalition. We're collecting donations through the middle of January, so come on by - even if you can't make it to our open house.

This is also a great time of year to renew or sign up for your After Hours subscription. The subscription runs through the calendar year so subscribing early actually saves you money.

Also in this newsletter we tell you about big changes with the new American Law Reports (ALR) series, give you tips for managing passwords, and tell you more about our Prose & Cons fiction and movie collection. Read the whole newsletter on our website.

November 27, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Sample Social Media Policies

Where do you go when you need to write a social media policy – for your employees or to guide your business or agency’s use of these sites and apps? We have books and databases that can help.

BNA Human Resources Library
Ask a librarian for help using this database.
Analysis and news as well as these model policies: blogging, electronic communications, and social media - which addresses both an employee’s personal and corporate use of social media.

Consultant and independent contractor agreements
KF898 .F57 2014
Are you trying to get your business or agency social media up to snuff? If so, you may be thinking about hiring a social media consultant. This book includes sample consultant agreements from the consultant’s perspective as well as the client’s perspective. Published by Nolo.

Smart policies for workplace technologies
KF3455 .G84 2015
Chapters include analysis and sample policies for employee and corporate use of social media. Published by Nolo.

Social media law
KF1384 .B8 no.91
Extensive discussion of law and business use of social media with sample employee and corporate posting policies, sample takedown requests, policies guiding app use and development, and a sample policy about social media use and document retention. A volume in the BNA Corporate Practice Series.

Social media and local governments
KF5300 .S25 2013
Analysis of social media issues as pertains specifically to government use and civic engagement. Includes a sample municipal social media policy.

Westlaw Forms
Log into WestlawNext on our public computers or wifi.
In addition to many articles and other secondary sources, includes a model National Labor Relations Board social media policy for use by any business.

Wisconsin Law
Even if you already have an existing policy, don’t forget to keep it current! Recently Wisconsin passed the Social Media Protection Act (2013 Act 208). See Wisconsin Statute 995.55 “Internet privacy protection”.

November 24, 2015

Libraries Closed for Thanksgiving

The Wisconsin State Law Library (WSLL) as well as the Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries will be closed Thursday, November 26 in observance of the Thanksgiving Day state holiday. On Friday, November 27, the Dane County Law Library will remain closed but WSLL and MCLL will be open regular hours.

To submit a question or request while the libraries are closed, you may call the State Law Library Reference Desk at (608) 267-9696 or use the Ask a Librarian online form. We will respond as soon as possible on November 27. For regular hours, please visit our Locations page.

Image source: By Dimus (English Wikipedia, [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

November 16, 2015

Use the Library After Hours

Would you like the convenience of using the State Law Library later in the evening or on weekends? You can - by becoming an After Hours subscriber. 

After Hours users can use and check out books, use our public computers and databases - including WestlawNext and HeinOnline, make photocopies, and enjoy a quiet space for research and study.

A calendar-year subscription includes access to the library from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and a key fob for convenient entry into the building. New subscribers will gain access from the time they subscribe to the end of the 2016 calendar year. Subscribe now and save!

Are you already an After Hours subscriber? If so, now is the perfect time to renew before the busy holiday season hits. 

November 12, 2015

BadgerLink Scheduled Maintenance

BadgerLink databases, like Academic Search Premier and Newspaper Source Plus, may be unavailable for a limited time this evening beginning at 8 p.m. and extending through 6 a.m. Friday morning.

This maintenance will not affect access to the Hein Online Law Journal Library or Index to Legal Periodicals. For a list of all databases available with your library card, see our Articles & Journals page.

November 6, 2015

Wisconsin Legal Advice Online

Eligible Wisconsin residents can now post basic legal questions for free to Wisconsin Legal Advice Online

To use it, first create an account on the Wisconsin Legal Advice Online website. Check to see if you meet the rules for using the website and make sure you remember your password. You'll need it to log in later to check for an answer to your question. 

How it works

Volunteer attorneys will select the questions they want to answer. You will get an email when an attorney has answered and you can log in to Wisconsin Legal Advice Online to see the answer. 

This project was created by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission and is also sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin's Pro Bono Program.

November 2, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: November 2015

This November our newsletter focuses on technology. Get tips for managing your smartphone, checking websites, and shopping smart online.

In this issue: 
  • What's New: Staff news; New WestlawNext classes; Holiday closings 
  • This Just In: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles 
  • Tech Tip: Data gobbling apps and diagnosing website problems
  • WSLL Recommends: Federal Habeas Corpus Practice & Procedure
  • Odds 'n' Endings: Staying safe on Cyber Monday

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

October 26, 2015

Celebrate Pro Bono Week at Dane County Law Library

The Dane County Law Library hosts the Dane County Bar Association as they celebrate ABA's National Pro Bono Week. In the spirit of the week, free legal information will be provided by volunteers from the Dane County Bar Association.

On Tuesday, stop by the library to ask volunteer attorneys your general legal questions at this special drop-in event. Volunteers are available from 8 to noon.

Also on Tuesday the regularly scheduled Small Claims Assistance Center will be open extended hours, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to assist small claims litigants with forms and procedural information. On Wednesday, the regularly scheduled Family Law Assistance Center will be open extended hours from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a Spanish-speaking volunteer available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Regularly scheduled clinic information is on the Dane County Court website.

Help Dane County celebrate! Attend the free ABA Pro Bono Week/Free Legal Information Clinics or volunteer your time.

Tuesday 27th 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Wednesday 28th 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Dane County Law Library, Room L1007
Dane County Courthouse
215 S. Hamilton
Madison, WI 53703

Celebrate National Pro Bono Week

The last week of October is National Pro Bono Week. This week shines a spotlight on pro bono work with special events for volunteer attorneys and the population they serve.

Wisconsin is fortunate to have many free or low cost legal assistance organizations. We list several of these by county on our website. If you are an individual looking for help, check our directory for an organization near you and ask local organizations if there are any special legal clinics this week.

Our county directory might also be useful for attorneys looking for opportunities to volunteer. Also, follow the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission online; the Commission was created to support civil legal services for low income Wisconsin residents.

Are you an attorney looking for a new opportunity to volunteer? The Commission recently launched a new legal advice website, Wisconsin Legal Advice Online, and they are looking for attorneys to volunteer their time (which WisBar's InsideTrack appealingly calls, Pro Bono in Your Pajamas.)

This is the week to volunteer - or recognize those who are already volunteering. Learn how to nominate yourself or someone else for the Pro Bono Honor Society.

October 20, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure

Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure helps attorneys navigate post conviction procedure. Organized according to the steps that a petitioner typically would take in a habeas corpus case, the book is easy to follow. It begins with post-conviction remedies and subject-matter jurisdiction, and then continues with the filing of the petition, pre-filing and post-filing stays, various pleadings that may be filed, proceedings that may be held, procedural defenses, post-judgment proceedings, and appeals. 

Written from the "procedural perspective" of prisoners and detainees, it discusses complications that may arise for the applicant of federal habeas corpus. The book is well indexed allowing readers to jump to specific sections and find the answer to a particular issue quickly. 

Now in its 6th edition, the treatise and accompanying annual supplement provide analysis of the latest habeas corpus statutory and case law. Extensive footnotes appear throughout and tables of cases and authorities are included. Appendices point to relevant statutes, rules, and legislative materials. 

Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure is available to check out at the State Law Library.

October 14, 2015

Time for Fall Class Signup

Now is the time to polish your WestlawNext skills! Learn more about our classes and register online.

In October: 

Advanced WestlawNext 
Tuesday, October 20, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

In November:  

Introduction to WestlawNext 
Tuesday, November 17, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

Don't miss our Milwaukee class on Searching Google Scholar and Google Books for research, offered November 11 at the Milwaukee Public Library.

October 5, 2015

WSLL at Your Service October 2015

Our October newsletter features two big research announcements. ABA Journals are now available full text on HeinOnline. The library is also moving away from Westlaw.com (or Westlaw Classic) in favor of exclusively providing WestlawNext to our library users. 
In this issue:
  • What's New: Librarians speak out; Upcoming classes; Staff news
  • State Law Library Adds Online Access to ABA Journals
  • This Just In: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles
  • Tech Tip: Changes coming to Westlaw @ the library
  • WSLL Recommends: Criminal Practice and Procedure 
As always, your comments are welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Carol.Hassler@wicourts.gov

Milwaukee class photo
Bev Butula presents People Search at the Milwaukee Public Library.

October 2, 2015

New WestlawNext Classes

New WestlawNext classes are open for registration through the winter - and just in time for our transition away from Westlaw Classic here in the library.

Sign up for any of our free CLE classes, offered monthly.

Introduction to WestlawNext
Tuesday, November 17, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room
Learn how to best use WestlawNext in this course by: Finding Specific Cases, Statutes and Regulations by citation; Learning how to quickly find and search specific resource; Learning about plain language searching on WestlawNext; Utilizing result list filtering to narrow your search results; Exploring document features, including new "Copy with Reference"; Learning about new WestlawNext history; Reviewing the basics of the WestlawNext Citator - KeyCite.
Intermediate WestlawNext
Tuesday, December 15, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room
Learn how to best utilize WestlawNext in this course by Discovering the power behind WestSearch plain language searching; Utilizing "Find a case by party name" feature; Learning about result list sorting and advanced filtering techniques, such as "search within results"; Exploring headnotes and other editorial enhancements, such as notes of decisions and statutes index; Covering advanced options for filtering Citing References; Learning about content category pages in the "Browse" menu.
Advanced WestlawNext
Tuesday, January 19, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

Learn how to best utilize WestlawNext in this course by: Learning about advanced search and field searching on content category search pages; Harnessing the power of advanced annotation features such as highlighting and foldering; Incorporating Key Numbers and Key Number Searching into your research; Exploring headnotes and other editorial enhancements, such as notes of decisions and statutes index; Covering advanced options for Alerts and Automated searches; Utilizing advanced customization features for "Copy with Reference", Highlighted terms, Result list display, and Document Delivery; Learn how to access WestlawNext from other devices.

September 25, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Criminal Practice and Procedure

Criminal Practice and Procedure, by Christine M. Wiseman and Michael Tobin, provides attorneys and lay users with current, in depth information and commentary regarding Wisconsin criminal practice in an easy to read and accessible format. This single volume guides the reader through the myriad steps of criminal procedure, and thoroughly engages the practice of criminal law - from the commencement of prosecution (including arrest), motion practice (pretrial and discovery), and defense (including competency hearings and the insanity defense).

This book includes detailed analysis and commentary on a wide range of subjects including search and seizure, preliminary hearings, confessions, speedy trial, and more.  Yearly supplemental materials are added to the back of the volume to address new issues, and update existing issues, as they develop. This book is shelved in our libraries as volume 9 of the Wisconsin Practice Series

Pair this with the Criminal Defense Manual from the Wisconsin State Bar for a head start on your next case.

September 22, 2015

In Memory of Justice N. Patrick Crooks

Flags have been ordered to fly at half staff to honor Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks. Justice Crooks passed away on September 21 at the age of 77. Library staff remember Justice Crooks fondly and have always appreciated his support of the library during his many years with the court. We extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Justice Crooks was a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for 20 years, having been elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court twice. The Wisconsin Court System has released a statement about his passing as well as more biographical information coinciding with his recent decision to not run for re-election.

Justice Crooks began his judicial career nearly 39 years ago when he was appointed to be a Brown County circuit court judge in 1977. You can read more about Justice Crooks' long career in Portraits of Justice.

Source: Stevens Point Daily Journal August 3, 1977
Justice Crooks authored numerous opinions during his time on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. You can find them in a Google Scholar author search or by searching WestlawNext for advanced: JU("Patrick Crooks").

September 15, 2015

September is Library Card Signup Month

Library cards are a great way to help streamline your legal research. Check out practice materials from any of our three libraries. Use your card to sign in to online databases and research primary law, legal news and articles, and even genealogy.

Learn more on our Library Card Sign-Up page and find out what a Wisconsin State Law Library card can do for you.

September 8, 2015

Become a Public Records Pro

Learn first hand how to find public records on individuals and businesses in our September 18 class on Finding Wisconsin Public Records.

Discover criminal records, state and local court records, business entity records, liens, foreclosures, real estate records, and more. We'll help you find the government agency sources for Wisconsin public records. You'll learn what you can get online and which records can be requested from an agency.

This hands-on class takes place from 9 to noon and registration is limited to 8. Sign up on our class registration page.

September 3, 2015

Libraries Closed on Labor Day

The Wisconsin State Law Library, Milwaukee County Law Library, and Dane County Law Library will be closed on Monday, September 7 for the Labor Day state holiday. We will respond to questions and requests on Tuesday, September 8. 

To submit a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, you may call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

September 2, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: September 2015

In our latest issue of WSLL @ Your Service, get great tips for legal podcasts to download and listen to when you don't have time to read. In our feature article this month learn where to find registered agent information for companies with business in Wisconsin. We go over the databases you need and what information you can - and can't - find online.

In this issue:

  • What's New: New brochures; Upcoming classes in Madison and Milwaukee; Labor Day closings
  • Click to it: Finding a registered agent
  • This Just In: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles
  • Tech Tip: Legal podcast suggestions
  • WSLL Recommends: Bankruptcy Law Reporter
  • Odds 'n' Endings: Using your mobile phone as your library card 
Your comments are always welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Carol.Hassler@wicourts.gov.

August 21, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Bankruptcy Law Reporter

Bankruptcy Law Reporter (Wolters Kluwer / CCH) is a comprehensive guide for the bankruptcy practitioner. This 3 volume set includes coverage of new developments in case law, legislative changes, and state exemptions. Volume 2 serves as a practice guide to navigate case administration and management of the bankruptcy estate. Volume 2 also includes individual chapters dedicated to different types of bankruptcy actions and sections dedicated to rules of practice and forms. 

As with most "Topical Law Reports" from CCH, Bankruptcy Law Reporter uses "transfer binders" to house older content. Older contents, particularly court decisions and special legislative reports, are useful for any legislative history on bankruptcy laws and bankruptcy reform. The Wisconsin State Law Library's collection of these items dates back to 1973.

August 13, 2015

New and Updated Brochures

We've updated our brochures! The Wisconsin State Law Library just rolled out a completely redesigned and updated brochure, showcasing library services and spaces. Get a preview on our website or stop by a library to pick one up.

Our two branch libraries also have recently updated brochures to reflect new names (now the Dane County and Milwaukee County Law Libraries) and updated logos. Check out the Dane County and Milwaukee County brochures on our website.

Wisconsin State Law Library brochure

Dane County Law Library brochure

Milwaukee County Law Library brochure

August 9, 2015

Upcoming CLE Classes

Start planning your fall CLE! Several classes are now open for registration for August and September, and many of them are free. Visit our classes page to learn more and sign up early.

In Madison: 

Introduction to Wisconsin Legislative History
Tuesday, August 11, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

Advanced Wisconsin Legislative History
Tuesday, September 8, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

Intermediate WestlawNext
Tuesday, September 15, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

Finding Wisconsin Public Records
Friday, September 18, 9 a.m. - Noon
Location: Wisconsin State Law Library training room

In Milwaukee: 

Books Unbound
Wednesday, August 12, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee Public Library, Meeting Room 1

People Search
Wednesday, September 9, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee Public Library, Meeting Room 1

August 4, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: August 2015

Our August newsletter is now online. In this issue:

July 28, 2015

Disability Books in the Library

July marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Did you know that the library has several books on disability law in Wisconsin and the U.S.? We have featured several books and library databases in the past few years that address disability law. Visit the library to use these or contact us if you would like to request copies or check out a book through the mail.
Search our library catalog for books about the legal rights of and discrimination against persons with disabilities. Several books also focus exclusively on the ADA.

Researchers may also be interested in our legal topics pages on disability, employment, and health law

July 20, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Wisconsin Statutes Annotated

West's Wisconsin Statutes Annotated pulls together several essential research tools in one convenient location. In addition to statutes, constitutions, and court rules, it includes complete history notes, committee comments, court decision summaries, law review citations, and references to related practice aids, legal encyclopedias, and treatises. When conducting legislative history research, save time by relying on two unique features of the history note: prior laws (previous numerations) and effective dates of related acts. Another defining element of the Statutes Annotated is the growing collection of "Notes of Decisions," or case annotations, grouped by points of law. Notes of decisions will also have key number topics to broaden your case research using West's Wisconsin Key Number Digest.

Each volume has a table of contents and legend for the abbreviations used in the text. The general subject index for the whole series can be found after the last volume on the shelf. Each book individually receives an annual pocket part, or a printed update, while the whole series updates via periodic "Interim Update Service" pamphlets. Check the preface of the pocket part to see what session laws are included in the latest update or verify it in Westlaw.

All three of our library locations have public access to Westlaw. When reading a particular statute, click "Currentness" to see the most recent act included in the content. Use the tabs to explore the same valuable sections found in the printed edition, run keyword searches, or browse using the popular name table. Download and email whole documents from our computers at no cost, or bring a laptop to connect to Westlaw through the State Law Library's wifi.

The State Law Library has retired volumes dating back to 1957. Books can be checked out from both the State Law Library and Dane County Law Library with a library card.

July 14, 2015

Mobile-Optimized Congressional Member Guide

Visit the new mobile congressional member guide from the U.S. Government Printing Office and get quick information on the 114th Congress. According to the GPO's press release:
The mobile Web app provides the public with quick, easy access to information on Members of the 114th Congress; the features include their picture, party affiliation, hometown, home state, and length of service. The app allows users to browse for Members of Congress by last name, state, chamber, or party. The public can take advantage of this free mobile Web app on major mobile device platforms.

Find more mobile-ready guides and directories at GPO Mobile.

July 3, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: July 2015

Read the July issue of WSLL @ Your Service for the latest library news and tech tips. 

In this issue: 
  • What's New: Upcoming classes; MCLL Holiday closing;
  • Searching the Wisconsin Administrative Code online;
  • This Just in: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles;
  • Tech Tip: New Bluebook covers eBooks and updates internet citation rules;
  • WSLL Recommends: Exculpatory Evidence;
  • Staff News: Three new library assistants;
  • Odds 'n' Endings: Vacation rentals and fireworks law. 
As always, your comments are welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Lisa.Winkler@wicourts.gov

Milwaukee County Law Library Closed July 3rd

The Milwaukee County Law Library is closed on July 3rd in observance of the July 4th holiday. Direct any questions while MCLL is closed to the WI State Law Library reference desk: 608-267-9696. The library will reopen on Monday, July 6th.

June 29, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Exculpatory Evidence

Black's Law Dictionary defines "exculpatory evidence" as evidence tending to establish a criminal defendant's innocence. The authoritative text on exculpatory evidence is Exculpatory Evidence: the accused's constitutional right to introduce favorable evidence. Written by renown experts Edward J. Imwinkelried, UC Davis School of Law and Norman M. Garland, Southwestern University Law School, it is now in its third edition.

This detailed treatise offers a comprehensive examination of a defendant's right to present exculpatory evidence. Criminal defense attorneys will appreciate the commentary on successful trial defense strategies and ways to improve the effectiveness of their arguments.

Newer counsel and seasoned litigators will benefit from reading the introductory chapter on the English common law behind the accused's right to present a defense and how it developed into a constitutional standard in American case law. Subsequent chapters break down individual rules such as:
  • Procedural restrictions on the admissibility of defense evidence
  • Rules rendering persons incompetent as witnesses at trial
  • Rules excluding logically irrelevant evidence
  • Hearsay rule excluding unreliable testimony
  • Defense advocacy for the accused's right to present evidence
Check out Exculpatory evidence to help you present the best possible defense in your cases.

June 22, 2015

Fireworks Laws in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statute 167.10 addresses the regulation of fireworks in Wisconsin and lists various firework-related devices that aren't regulated, such as sparklers or toy snakes. Anyone looking for a concise summary of fireworks laws should look at the WI Dept. of Justice's Wisconsin Fireworks Law memo. This guide includes a list of items that are generally legal in Wisconsin without a permit, as well as those that are illegal without a permit throughout Wisconsin.

It's important to note that further restrictions and enforcement rest with local authorities, so be sure to check local ordinances. Permits are generally issued by local authorities (i.e. the mayor or person designated by the mayor). The Wisconsin Fireworks Law memo also covers examples of laws and practices you might see for local fireworks regulation.

Image credit: ericnvntr, Wikimedia Commons

June 18, 2015

Webinar on Criminal Justice Websites

Sign up now for a live webinar from the FDLP Academy, The Abundance of Federal Criminal Justice Websites: Criminal Justice Websites You Should Know. This free webinar is offered on Tuesday, June 23rd from 1-2 p.m.

The U.S. Federal Government publishes a variety of resources on criminal justice. The webinar will look at websites for federal departments, statistics, research tools, and evidence based research.

June 12, 2015

Vacation Rental Laws in Wisconsin

Homeowners wishing to rent out their homes as vacation rentals can look to the local level as well as state regulations.

Check local ordinances for laws about vacation rentals. If your town or city isn't on our list, contact the municipal clerk's office. If the clerk doesn't maintain the ordinances, check with the corporation counsel office or a local public library. The local building and zoning department may also be a useful contact for information about zoning restrictions or permits.

The Wisconsin Department of Health issues permits to individuals and businesses for lodging facilities in Wisconsin. Read more at their tourist rooming houses and bed & breakfast permits & laws page. Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter DHS 195 regulates hotels, motels, and tourist rooming houses and DHS 197 regulates bed and breakfasts. 

Renters may want to check their lease for sublet or guest clauses. Legal publisher Nolo.com has a page on their website for tenants looking to use Airbnb. Nolo also has a broader interest page for homeowners: Airbnb and other short-term rentals of your home.

June 5, 2015

Magna Carta at 800

This month marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. On June 15, 1215 King John of England added his seal to the Magna Carta, a document that is frequently cited as inspiring principles outlined in the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.

We have a number of library resources to share this month. Several books, such as the ABA's Magna Carta and the rule of law, examine its history in the context of our own legal documents. We also have a 1759 Blackstone treatise examining the Magna Carta which includes the text in original Latin with beautiful illustrations (pictured).

Stop by the library in mid-June to see our display of books about and related to the Magna Carta and view a framed duplication of the original document.

Library cardholders can log in to HeinOnline to search the English Reports collection, which dates back to 1220. Search for "Magna Carta" in the Early American Case Law collection to read older discussions of this historical document in Federal case law.

A search in HeinOnline's Law Journal Library for "magna carta" turns up thousands of matches with subjects ranging from prison law to environmental law.

Be sure to check out the British Library's translation from Latin to modern English of the original 1215 edition. The U.S. National Archives also includes research sources on their website, relating the Magna Carta to U.S. law.

June 2, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: June 2015

Add our June newsletter to the top of your summer reading list. Get updates on summer CLE classes and catch up with library news. Skim new books in our collection - we've added new ABA books, information technology guides for firms and lawyers, contract and family law form books, and more. 

Don't miss this month's tech tip: an illustrated guide to legislative history research on the Wisconsin Legislature's website. Use these time saving tips in your next project. 

In this issue:
  • What's New: Upcoming Classes;
  • This Just in: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles;Tech Tip: A Faster Start to Legislative History Research;
  • WSLL Recommends: Legal Research in Wisconsin;
  • Librarians in Action: Law Day, National Library Legislative Day, and Government Information Day
Please direct comments to the editor, Lisa.Winkler@wicourts.gov.

May 26, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Legal Research in Wisconsin

In a library full of multi-volume treatises the smaller books can sometimes get overlooked. Such is the case with Legal research in Wisconsin, by Theodore A. Potter (former State Law Librarian Jane Colwin was also a contributor).

The first two chapters give a concise overview of the history and structure of the Wisconsin Court System, published and unpublished opinions, and case research. The rest of the book includes chapters on statutory research, legislative histories, court rules, administrative law, local laws, and the Wisconsin Constitution.

What's invaluable about this book is the comprehensive coverage information for each type of legal authority source. This book is frequently used for its detailed information about where historical sources of the law are published or archived.

For example, the chapter on statutory research includes title variations and date ranges for older versions of the statutes and their accompanying materials. These references can be very helpful when digging into an older history question. Has it been a while since you researched a Wisconsin Court Order from a statute's history note? Start with this book to learn how those are created and where to find the background materials.

Pair this volume with Wisconsin legal research. Written by law librarians Patricia Cervenka and Leslie Behroozi, this book provides an overview of basic sources and strategies on the Wisconsin Constitution, Statutes and court rules, administrative law, and case law. Published in 2011, this book has more information on recent online access to law sources, including popular databases like Westlaw and HeinOnline.

The next time you need to step outside of your research comfort zone, turn to one of these books to get up to speed quickly on your topic and find the sources you need fast.

May 20, 2015

Libraries Closed on Memorial Day

The Wisconsin State Law Library, Milwaukee County Law Library, and Dane County Law Library will be closed on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day.

To send a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

We will respond to questions and requests on Tuesday, May 26th.

May 15, 2015

Focus on HeinOnline

HeinOnline is one of our favorite databases. In fact, we're teaching a CLE class on how to get the most out of HeinOnline next week! If you can't make our class (Wednesday, May 20th, noon-1 p.m.) you can still learn a lot about HeinOnline from their support site http://help.heinonline.org/.

Read FAQs and get library-specific support (with overviews of special search fields and shortcuts). An extensive webinar and online training video archive is also available.

Sign up for CLE Classes

There is still space available in all three of our CLE classes next week. All classes are offered from noon to 1 p.m.

On Tuesday, attend a free class on Beginner WestlawNext or take a webinar on advanced issues in researching Wisconsin Legislative History.

On Wednesday we offer a free CLE class on using HeinOnline, a premier database available to our library cardholders.

Visit our classes page for more information and to sign up!

May 14, 2015

Databases and Catalog System Maintenance

System maintenance this evening may affect your ability to log in to our Articles and Journals databases or search our library catalog. Access to library databases like HeinOnline and Index to Legal Periodicals may be interrupted tonight between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian for help.

May 6, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: May 2015

The May issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now online! 

In this issue:
  • What's New: County Law Libraries Renamed; Upcoming Classes; Holiday Closing
  • Current & Historic Wis. Administrative Code and Registers
  • This Just in...: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles
  • Tech Tip: Technology and Attorney Ethics
  • WSLL Recommends: Medical Trial Technique Quarterly
  • Odds N' Endings: National Library Week 2015

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

April 29, 2015

System Issues Fixed

Earlier today some of our users may have experienced problems using the catalog or a database from our Articles & Journals page. Access problems have been fixed.

Please call us at 608-267-9696 or email us with any questions or further connection problems.

System Maintenance Today

System maintenance may affect your ability to log in to our Articles and Journals databases or search our library catalog. We are working quickly to resolve any connectivity issues today. If you experience problems using the library catalog or an online database, wait a few minutes or try again later. We will post another message when all issues are resolved.

Call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian for help.

April 28, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Medical Trial Technique Quarterly

Medical Trial Technique Quarterly publishes trial practice articles for attorneys litigating medical malpractice, negligence, products liability, and personal injury cases.

In each issue topic-focused articles provide legal background, elements of an action, sample complaints, examples of interrogatories, depositions and other discovery devices, voire dire questions, opening statements, direct examination questions, closing arguments, and other trial techniques.

Recent topics include:
  • football helmet injuries
  • exposure of employees to heat or cold
  • blood clotting
  • medical spas
  • injuries due to defective toys
  • allergenic nature of products
  • food borne pathogens
  • toxic drywall 
  • off-label use of prescription medications
  • multiple concussion injuries
Medical Trial Technique Quarterly is edited by Attorney Fred Lane who co-authors the publications Goldstein Trial Technique and Lane & Calkins Mediation Practice Guide, which are owned by our library. Articles are contributed by practicing attorneys and subject experts. 

Medical Trial Technique Quarterly is indexed by LegalTrac.

April 16, 2015

Branch Libraries Change Names, Same Services

For over a decade the county libraries we manage in Madison and Milwaukee have been known as the Dane County Legal Resource Center (DCLRC) and Milwaukee Legal Resource Center (MLRC). Today we announce new names for these libraries: the Dane County Law Library (DCLL) and the Milwaukee County Law Library (MCLL). These new names better reflect the kind of services we offer at these branches.

Says State Law Librarian, Julie Tessmer:
"The name changes take us back to our roots as law librarians. Our charge is to select, maintain and preserve collections of legal materials and to provide access to legal information and resources that may be helpful to anyone interested in learning more about the law."
One reason for the name change is to distinguish law library services from legal assistance clinics, including the Family Court Clinic and Small Claims Assistance Program in the Dane County Courthouse and the Milwaukee Justice Center in the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Our branch libraries play a vital role in serving self-represented users, attorneys, court staff, and judges in their respective counties. Both branch locations will continue to offer the same high level of research assistance and resources to their users.

MCLL staff in their new library space
Bookshelves and work space at DCLL

April 13, 2015

Happy National Library Week!

Once a year in April, the American Library Association sponsors a week when libraries across the country celebrate the importance of libraries to our communities and democratic society. Here at the State Law Library we will be hosting a few events of our own and we invite you to perk up your research by joining us for any of the following:

Perk Up Your Research! Guessing Game @ The Circ Desk

Drop by the library to guess how many coffee beans are in the French press. The top four guesses will get a prize. Game starts Monday, April 13 at 8 a.m. and ends Friday, April 17 at 5 p.m.

Advanced WestlawNext CLE Class

On Tuesday, April 14 from 12 - 1 p.m., attend an advanced WestlawNext class in our Training Room. Visit our Classes page for more details. In recognition of National Library Week, Thomson Reuters will provide lunch for attendees (this session only). Class size is limited to 8 and there is no registration fee. Register now.

WSLL Takes to the Streets

On Wednesday, April 15, from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., two of our reference librarians will staff a booth on MLK Jr. Blvd, just outside the library's doors, to distribute a limited edition bookmark and free coffee. Visitors are encouraged to come into the library for a brief tour and to enter to win a prize (see Perk Up Your Research! above for more details).

Webinar: Introduction to Legislative History

Wind down the week by attending a webinar from 12 - 1 p.m. on Friday April 17. Visit our Classes page for more details or register now.

April 9, 2015

Free Webinar: Federal publications from FDSys

The U.S. government publishes an enormous amount of primary law and other publications each year. The FDSys website provides free access to official government publications from all branches of government. Among those find US Budget documents; Congressional bills, hearings and calendars; GAO reports; and the US Code. 

Learn more about how to use this website in an upcoming webinar, Tips and Tricks in GPO's Federal Digital System (FDSys). Tuesday, April 14, 1-2 p.m. Central time. 

This webinar will review numerous tips for navigating FDsys, such as viewing historical editions of publications, downloading part or all of a publication, working with the U.S. Congressional Serial Set on FDsys, making use of the “Document in Context” feature, locating related resources, and much more.

Register today for “Tips and Tricks in GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys)

April 6, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: April 2015

National Library Week begins next week. Read all about events at the library in our latest newsletter. Also in this issue:

March 31, 2015

Spring Webinars for Wisconsin Residents

BadgerLink provides free access to many specialty article and research resources for Wisconsin residents. From local newspapers to industry reports, company profiles, and health articles, BadgerLink helps Wisconsin research a wide range of topics.

On Thursdays from April 2 to May 14 you can attend a 20 minute webinar (3:30-3:50 pm) featuring several of BadgerLink's resources. Check the full schedule for more information and registration details. Our users may be particularly interested in the following sessions:

April 23 | Business Source Premier

Stay competitive in the marketplace. Learn how to find market research reports, industry reports, country reports, company profiles, SWOT analyses, & full-text articles.

April 30 | Access NewspaperARCHIVE

Explore your roots. Learn how to find full-text PDFs of local and national historic newspapers in Access NewspaperARCHIVE.

May 7 | Newspaper Resources

Save time when you are searching for newspaper articles. Learn about about the newspaper resources available in BadgerLink.

March 25, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Special Needs Trusts Handbook

This book covers special needs planning for the estimated 43 million Americans who have one or more physical or mental disabilities.

The Special Needs Trusts Handbook enables attorneys to handle the complex requirements of drafting and administering trusts for clients who are mentally or physically disabled, or who wish to provide for others with disabilities.

The one-of-a-kind reference helps determine which trust is appropriate, how to draft each trust to cover specific issues, and how to administer each trust making certain that clients maintain public benefits while still receiving funds from the trust.

Updated semi-annually, the Handbook also covers a broad range of issues that lawyers in the fields of elder and disability law confront, including specific types of disabilities, the various public and private benefits that are available to person with disabilities; estate planning for parents of children with disabilities; specific types of special needs trusts, and structured settlements in personal injury cases.

Also included is a CD containing appendixes with practice forms and other practice aids. This single volume loose leaf binder is authored by Certified Elder Law Attorney Thomas D. Begley, Jr and Wisconsin Elder Law Attorney Angela E. Canellos.

March 17, 2015

New Law Practice Books

We are adding several new books on the practice of law to our collection this spring. In The lateral lawyer (ABA), get tips for switching firms with a focus on partners moving firms. The lawyer's field guide to effective business development walks readers through the process of setting up and maintaining a business. Get into discussions of the future and current status of the law profession in the ABA's The practice : brutal truths about lawyers and lawyering.

We also added Ethics for the Wisconsin lawyer (UW Law School, CLEW) and Legal ethics : top challenges (NBI). We'll continue to post new additions to this collection to this blog and a special list in our catalog

All of these books are available to read in the library or check out. If you don't have a library card yet, you can sign up for a card on our website. 

Sign up for Spring Classes

We have several CLE legal research classes coming up in March and April:


  • Intro to Wisconsin Legislative History, April 17


  • WSLL Web Tour, March 25

  • What's New on WestlawNext, April 8
  • Advanced Legal Research with WestlawNext, April 8

Check our classes page for more detail about each class and registration information. 

March 6, 2015

WSLL at Your Service: March 2015

Read the March issue of WSLL @ Your Service!

In this issue:
  • What's New: DCLRC Hosts State Agency Librarians; Upcoming Classes; Start Here: A Guide to State Law Library Services, Part 1;
  • This Just in: New & updated library materials; Monthly list of new titles
  • Tech Tip: Search Within A Website With Firefox;
  • WSLL Recommends: Mental Disability Law Civil and Criminal
  • Odds 'n' Endings: Perfect Pairing: Online and Print Versions of State Bar of Wisconsin's CLE Books; Making it Easier to Log in to Remote Services
As always, your comments are welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Lisa.Winkler@wicourts.gov

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