Lawsuits against state government could be filed anywhere in Wisconsin, under a bill being proposed at the Capitol. The bill would change current state law, which requires lawsuits naming the state as the sole defendant to be filed in Dane County Circuit Court.
State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), a co-sponsor of the proposal, says the legislation would allow lawsuits brought against the state, state boards, commissions, state officers, employees, or other agents of the state to be filed in any county. She says Dane County should have a “monopoly” on the process.
The bill would also require any appeal to be taken up in an appellate district that does not include the original circuit court. Vukmir says the restriction is aimed at preventing situations like what currently exists in Madison, where judges and attorneys know each other at several levels of the judicial system. She says other members of the judiciary across the state are just as qualified to give legal challenges an unbiased look.
Vukmir says the bill is not just about letting plaintiffs shop for a more favorable court. She says it is intended to open the court system across the state to where anyone might want to bring up a case.
Vukmir says the bill is also not just a reaction to Republican criticisms against Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, who has drawn fire from GOP lawmakers for ruling against passage of the Governor’s collective bargaining bill. Sumi’s order blocking implementation of the bill is currently the subject of a challenge going before the State Supreme Court next week.
The bill is scheduled to receive a hearing before a Senate committee later today.