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The Third Branch

Media attention drawn to Court decisions

Deputy Chief Judge Maxine Aldridge White (right) honors Vel Phillips at the Association for Women Lawyers Annual Women Judges' Night. Photo credit: White Dog Photography.

 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court grabbed headlines across the country and throughout the state when it released decisions on July 31 in four cases affecting three major issues – voter ID laws, Act 10 and domestic partner benefits – on the same day.

Coverage of the Act 10 decision was featured on the front website pages of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, among others news sites.

The day before the decisions were released, the Journal Sentinel referred to the cases as "three bolts of legal lightning." On the day of release, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured articles about each of the cases on the JSOnline homepage. The articles appeared again in print atop the front page on Aug. 1.

Madison.com featured a live blog throughout the morning of the release date and maintained coverage throughout the day. The Court announced two days in advance that decisions would be released so media outlets would have time to prepare for coverage.

Legal authorities and longtime Court observers noted the historical significance of the occasion.

"You can ask any practitioner, nobody's ever seen this many high-profile cases being decided on the same day," Madison Atty. Lester Pines told the Journal Sentinel. Pines has practiced before the Wisconsin Supreme Court for more than three decades and represented parties in three cases.

Editorial comments and campaign statements followed.

Deputy Chief Judge Maxine Aldridge White (right) honors Vel Phillips at the Association for Women Lawyers Annual Women Judges' Night. Photo credit: White Dog Photography. Deputy Chief Judge Maxine Aldridge White (right) honors Vel Phillips at the Association for Women Lawyers Annual Women Judges' Night. Photo credit: White Dog Photography.

 

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