Requests For Advice and Opinions
Parties often are unsure how they should proceed, for example what plea they should enter. Court staff (including the judge) must refrain from giving advice to parties or their representatives. If asked to speculate how the court will rule on any matter, the clerk must also decline to give any opinion or discuss how the court has ruled in any prior case. The clerk should not recommend or provide names of attorneys to contact to act as counsel for a defendant. If asked to do so, the clerk should suggest contacting the bar association for names of attorneys in the area.
The clerk may do the following:
- answer questions about scheduling of cases, including the rescheduling of hearings. A defendant has a right to request that a first appearance date be rescheduled to the next available date. Any requests for longer adjournments or additional adjournments should be referred to the town attorney and judge
- provide a copy of the informational sheet that explains the types of pleas
- provide copies of the court's memoranda
- provide the name and address of the town attorney. NOTE: under no circumstances may the clerk provide any means of telephone or personal access to the judge; communications by parties or their attorneys with the judge outside of court are not allowed. A party may send a letter to the judge c/o the town hall, however a copy must also be sent to the town attorney.
- in juvenile non-traffic cases, inform that these hearings are held in a closed session and remind that the child's parent or guardian must be present.
- explain that the municipal court is not a court of criminal justice and that a municipal court conviction does not result in a criminal record.
Judgments and Satisfactions
The statute provides that a municipality may have municipal court order docketed as a civil judgment in the circuit court. The clerk of municipal court will issue a judgment upon the request of the town attorney. It will then be the town attorney's responsibility to file it in the circuit court.
When a municipal court judgment docketed in the circuit court has been paid, the defendant is entitled to a document captioned Satisfaction of Judgment. This is needed to release the judgment lien from the defendant's real property. It will be the responsibility of the town attorney (not the clerk) to prepare and provide this document.
Bankruptcy stops all efforts by a creditor to collect from a debtor those debts that were incurred prior to the filing of bankruptcy. It also stops any enforcement actions, such as license suspensions and warrants that may have been issued by a court.
Bankruptcy does not stop the municipal court from continuing a pending case and imposing penalties, however payment of the penalties cannot be enforced until later and only if not discharged by the bankruptcy.
If the clerk receives a notice of bankruptcy, the clerk must review the court records to see if any suspension or warrant has been issued. If so, they must be vacated immediately and the police department notified for entry into the law enforcement data base.
The notice of bankruptcy should be made part of the defendant's record and the town attorney must be advised
Stipulated Fact Trials
The parties may agree to submit stipulated facts to the court prior to trial. If the stipulation is signed by all parties (or their attorneys) such facts shall be deemed proven. The stipulation should further state whether the parties reserve the right to present additional evidence, testimony and argument in trial. If not so reserved, the trial will be limited to such additional evidence and testimony.
If the right to present additional evidence and testimony is waived by both parties, the court will decide the case and issue its decision based upon the stipulated facts and any written argument submitted with the stipulation. This will constitute the 'trial' of the case.
Discovery in municipal court is allowed pursuant to §800.07, Stats. A discovery request for inspection and testing shall follow §804.09(1) and (2), Stats. subject to the following:
- A discovery request made by a defendant shall be in writing and served upon the town attorney or upon the claimant regarding restitution no later than 30 days prior to trial. A copy of the request shall be sent to the municipal court clerk.
- The party subject to the discovery request (the town or claimant) shall make production or allow inspection and testing to be completed not later than 10 days prior to the date set for trial.
- The court may exclude from consideration any evidence that was subject to a proper request and which was not produced as required by Nos. 1 and 2 above.
- Informal requests for discovery are allowed, however the requesting party shall have no recourse if the production, inspection or testing was not completed pursuant to the above conditions.
Laser Speed Detection Devices
The Linn Municipal Court will accord laser speed detection devices a presumption of accuracy upon receipt of testimony by a competent operating officer including all of the following:
At the time of use of the laser speed detection device leading to issuance of a citation:
- The officer was stationary,
- The officer had received adequate training for use of the device and the device was used in accordance with that training,
- The device was in proper working order,
- There was a minimal possibility of distortion due to road and weather conditions,
- The speed detection reading was taken at a distance of no greater than 1000 feet and the officer had vision adequate for accurate sighting at that distance,
- The device had been tested in accordance with all manufacturer recommendations and had been found to be working properly.
In all cases where the defendant is served by mail, a copy of the envelope showing the address to where the citation was sent shall be attached to the court's copy of the citation with a notation stating the date when mailed.
No citation shall be mailed later than 10 days prior to the court appearance date shown on the citation.
In all cases, whether or not the defendant is represented by an attorney, a trial date shall be set immediately following the initial appearance if all issues have not resolved by either a dismissal, a conviction or a stipulation approved by the court setting terms of resolution.
The defendant shall have the right to a one-time adjournment of the initial appearance until the next court appearance date. Thereafter, either party may apply for a later date, however the request for further adjournment shall be in writing and shall state the reason or reasons for requiring a later date. The request must be served upon the other party, which shall have an opportunity to respond before the request is sent to the judge.
All stipulations shall be promptly submitted to the judge for approval prior to taking effect.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will any case be held open without a set trial date solely for on-going discussions between the parties even when both parties indicate they desire such delay. Informal hold open agreements shall not be allowed. The parties may request an adjournment of the trial date by submitting such request to the judge stating the reason for the adjournment. Such requests must be made at least 72 hours before the trial date and time, absent unforeseen circumstances arising after that deadline.
Amendment of OWI/BAC Citations, and Moving Traffic Citations for CDL Drivers
Requests to dismiss or amend citations for OWI, illegal BAC, and any citation alleging a moving traffic violation issued to a person holding a commercial driver's license shall recite in writing and in detail facts and circumstances showing why the proposed dismissal or amendment is in the public interest and not merely in the interest of the defendant.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will this court defer, vacate, dismiss or allow to go unreported any conviction of a moving traffic law involving a defendant with a commercial driver's license.