Wisconsin

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Color Key Explanation
Categorical Right To Counsel There is a right to counsel without qualification for all indigent individuals in this type of case (except that the individual may be required to request counsel).
Discretionary Appointment Of Counsel Courts are permitted but not required to appoint counsel for any indigent individual in this type of case. A request may be required.
Right Or Appointment Is Qualified The established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including: the only authority comes from a lower/intermediate court decision or a city government, not a high court or state legislature; a case has cast doubt on prior authority; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all individuals or proceedings within that type of case.
No Such Proceeding This state has no law creating a judicial proceeding of this type.
None While this state does not provide for or require appointment of counsel with respect to the given subject area, it does have something (such as a report or bar policy) that supports the right to or appointment of counsel for this subject area.
Other Because the "Other subject areas” category can include developments from different subject areas that do not work the same way as each other, a blanket categorization of this category is not possible.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Legislation: parents in dependency proceedings

12/03/2017

Two bills would create a pilot project where parents in certain counties would have a right to counsel in dependency cases.

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The WI Supreme Court held that courts must make a case-by case determination of whether to appoint counsel in abuse/neglect cases.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Pilot

Wisconsin takes step towards right to counsel for parents

04/04/2018

A new 2018 law creates pilot programs that provide a right to counsel for parents in CHIPS cases in 5 counties.

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children in abuse/neglect cases have a right to counsel in certain circumstances, and otherwise appointment is discretionary.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Adult Protective Proceedings - Proposed Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of an adult protective proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

Wisconsin legislature creates access to civil legal services study committee

04/18/2016

The Wisconsin legislature created a study committee to examine how to expand access to counsel in civil cases.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC supported the prior petitions to the Court urging it to expand access to counsel.

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The WI Supreme Court held that trial courts have the inherent power to appoint counsel in any civil case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Wisconsin advocates petition WI Supreme Court for right to counsel rules

09/13/2018

WI advocates have filed two petitions asking the WI Supreme Court to establish civil right to counsel rules and pilot projects.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon

The NCCRC testified in support of the original petition, attended Access to Justice Commission meetings that discussed the petition, and provided input on the substance of the new petition.

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for minors seeking to bypass the parental consent requirements for an abortion.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the respondent in a civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The WI Supreme Court found a federal (and possibly state) constitutional right to counsel in civil contempt cases where the state is a party.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent persons for various types of civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Wisconsin case addresses right to counsel for confinement of pregnant women

10/26/2017

A Wisconsin case raises the issue of right to counsel when pregnant women are civilly committed for alleged child endangerment.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon

NCCRC helped frame the right to counsel component of the case and filed an amicus brief.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The Wisconsin Supreme Court held there is a constitutional right to counsel for indigent respondents in civil commitment cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Right to counsel

A federal court recognized a constitutional right to counsel for Wisconsin civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Domestic Violence - Alleged Victim

Pilot

Wisconsin launches DV representation pilot project

09/26/2015

In Wisconsin, a pilot started in 2015 in Winnebago County to provide representation to DV victims in family law cases.

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of guardianship proceedings, but only upon request.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for a defendant in a civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The WI Supreme Court found a federal (and possibly state) constitutional right to counsel in civil contempt cases where the state is a party.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

there is a right to counsel prior to the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for an indigent respondent in certain paternity proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Quarantine/Inoculation

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - quarantine

There is a right to counsel for the subject of a TB quarantine.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent subjects of a sexually violent persons civil commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

The WI Supreme Court held that those subjected to sexually violent person confinement have a constitutional right to counsel for their appeal.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court must appoint a lawyer-GAL for a child in a contested adoption, and may appoint counsel.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children in termination cases have a right to a lawyer-GAL in termination proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in contested adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children in truancy proceedings only have a right to counsel in limited situations; the rest of the time it is discretionary.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Other Subject Areas

Legislation

Right to counsel - expectant mothers

There is a right to counsel for expectant mothers for whom protection/services is ordered.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

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