2008 WI 74
Supreme Court of
Michael J. Watton d/b/a Watton Law Group,
Nanette H. Hegerty Chief of Police and as official custodian of records for the City of Milwaukee Police Department,
REVIEW OF A DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS
2007 WI App 267
Reported at: 306
(Ct. App. 2007-Published)
July 1, 2008
Submitted on Briefs:
April 4, 2008
Source of Appeal:
ABRAHAMSON, C.J., concurs (opinion filed).
BRADLEY, J., joins concurrence.
For the respondent-respondent-petitioner the cause was
argued by Melanie R. Swank, assistant
city attorney, with whom on the briefs was Grant
F. Langley, city attorney,
For the petitioner-appellant there was a brief by Michael J. Watton, Michael J. Maloney,
and Watton Law Group,
An amicus brief was filed by Maureen McGlynn Flanagan, assistant attorney general, and J.B. Van Hollen, attorney general, on behalf of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
An amicus brief was filed by James G. Godlewski, Neenah, on behalf of the Government Lawyers Division of the State Bar and International Municipal Lawyers Association, and oral argument by James G. Godlewski.
2008 WI 74
This opinion is subject to further editing and modification. The final version will appear in the bound volume of the official reports.
IN SUPREME COURT
Michael J. Watton d/b/a Watton Law Group,
Nannette H. Hegerty, Chief of Police and as official custodian of records for the City of Milwaukee Police Department,
JUL 1, 2008
David R. Schanker
Clerk of Supreme Court
REVIEW of a decision of the Court of Appeals. Reversed.
¶1 PATIENCE DRAKE ROGGENSACK, J. We review a decision of the court of appeals reversing a circuit court order denying Michael J. Watton's petition for a writ of mandamus. Watton filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the production of statements of emergency detention kept by the City of Milwaukee Police Department. The issue presented is whether, upon an open records request to the City of Milwaukee Police Department, provisions of the Mental Health Act, ch. 51 of the Wisconsin Statutes, preclude disclosure of duplicate copies of statements of emergency detention that are in the possession of the police department, absent written informed consent or a court order. We conclude that it does; and therefore, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals.
¶2 On September 8, 2006, Watton hand-delivered an open records request to the City of Milwaukee Police Department, pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-39. Watton requested two documents pertaining to Sidney Kente Gray that are relevant to this appeal: (1) a signed statement of emergency detention for Sidney Kente Gray created on or about June 13 or June 14, 2006; and (2) a signed statement of emergency detention for Sidney Kente Gray created in January 2006.
¶3 On October 19, 2006, through her designee at the City of Milwaukee Police Department, the records custodian denied Watton's request for Gray's statements of emergency detention. However, before receiving the police department's written response to his records request, Watton filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the production of the records he had requested under the open records law. The circuit court denied Watton's petition and he appealed.
¶4 The court of appeals reversed.
Watton v. Hegerty, 2007 WI App 267, 306
¶5 We granted the custodian's petition for review and now reverse.
A. Standard of Review
¶6 We review a decision regarding a petition for a writ of mandamus
under the erroneous exercise of discretion standard. State ex rel. Lewandowski v. Callaway,
B. Writ of Mandamus
¶7 A petition for a writ of mandamus is a proper means by which to
challenge a refusal to disclose documents sought under the open records
law. State ex rel. Greer v. Stahowiak,
2005 WI App 219, ¶7,
287 Wis. 2d 795, 706 N.W.2d 161.
Mandamus is an "extraordinary writ" that may be employed to
compel public officers to perform a duty that they are legally obligated to
¶8 In order to obtain a writ of mandamus compelling disclosure of records, the petitioner must establish that four prerequisites are satisfied: (1) the petitioner has a clear legal right to the records sought; (2) the government entity has a plain legal duty to disclose the records; (3) substantial damages would result if the petition for mandamus was denied; and (4) the petitioner has no other adequate remedy at law. See id., ¶6; see also, Pasko v. City of Milwaukee, 2002 WI 33, ¶24, 252 Wis. 2d 1, 643 N.W.2d 72.
¶9 In considering Watton's petition for mandamus, we are mindful of the policies underlying the open records law:
In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them. Further, providing persons with such information is declared to be an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of officers and employees whose responsibility it is to provide such information.
¶10 However, the presumption of access does not create an absolute right of access. Access to records may be denied where there is a specific statutory exemption to disclosure, Wis. Stat. § 19.36, or where there is a common law or public policy exception, Newspapers, Inc. v. Breier, 89 Wis. 2d 417, 426-27, 279 N.W.2d 179 (1979).
C. Mental Health Act
¶11 The parties agree that the statements of emergency detention that
Watton seeks are created under provisions of the Mental Health Act, ch. 51 of
the Wisconsin Statutes. The custodian
contends, however, that the Mental Health Act specifically exempts the
statements from disclosure, when read in combination with Wis. Stat. § 19.36(1). The custodian argues that the statements are "registration
records," as described in Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(am), which also
categorizes them as "confidential and . . . privileged" "treatment
records," as provided in § 51.30(1)(b) and (4). Accordingly, the custodian maintains that
Watton does not have a "clear legal right" to Gray's statements of emergency
detention. Greer, 287
¶12 Watton counters that statements of emergency detention cannot be considered "treatment records" because only those records that are "maintained" by the Department of Health and Family services, its county branches or its staff, or by treatment facilities constitute "treatment records," under Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(b). He argues that the City of Milwaukee Police Department does not fit within these categories of entities "maintain[ing]" the statements of emergency detention. Accordingly, he contends that the Mental Health Act does not specifically exempt statements of emergency detention that are in the possession of the police department from disclosure, under Wis. Stat. § 19.36(1).
¶13 Because he contends there is no statutory exemption to the open
records law that would keep statements of emergency detention private, Watton
argues that, in weighing the balance between private and public interests under
the open records law, the balance tips toward disclosure because there is no
"overriding public interest in keeping the records
confidential." Woznicki v.
¶14 To resolve the parties'
dispute over the statements of emergency detention, we interpret various
provisions of chs. 51 and 19 of the
¶15 If the words chosen for the statute exhibit a
"plain, clear statutory meaning," without ambiguity, the statute is
applied according to the plain meaning of the statutory terms.
¶16 We begin with Wis. Stat. § 51.15, which describes the role of a police officer in creating a statement of emergency detention, and with Wis. Stat. § 51.30, which defines certain types of mental health records and describes how one may obtain access to those records. We consider the relevant language of these sections of ch. 51 to ascertain whether the legislature intended to protect statements of emergency detention from disclosure.
¶17 The relevant portions of Wis. Stat. § 51.15(1)(a) and (4)(a) are contained in footnote 3, supra. Section 51.15(2) is also relevant to our inquiry, and it provides in pertinent part:
Facilities for detention. The law enforcement officer or other person authorized to take a child into custody under ch. 48 or to take a juvenile into custody under ch. 938 shall transport the individual, or cause him or her to be transported, for detention and for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment if permitted under sub. (8) to any of the following facilities:
. . . .
(c) A state treatment facility[.]
¶18 Portions of
(1) Definitions. In this section:
. . . .
(am) "Registration records" include all the records of the department, county departments . . . treatment facilities, and other persons providing services to the department, county departments, or treatment facilities, that are created in the course of providing services to individuals for mental illness . . . .
(b) "Treatment records" include the registration and all other records that are created in the course of providing services to individuals for mental illness . . . and that are maintained by the department, by county departments . . . and their staffs, and by treatment facilities. . . .
. . . .
(4) Access to registration and treatment records. (a) Confidentiality of records. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter and ss. 118.125(4), 610.70(3) and (5), 905.03 and 905.04, all treatment records shall remain confidential and are privileged to the subject individual. . . .
(b) Access without informed written consent. Notwithstanding par. (a), treatment records of an individual may be released without informed written consent in the following circumstances . . .:
. . . .
4. Pursuant to lawful order of a court of record.
¶19 From the text of these statutory provisions, we observe the following relevant legislative directives: (1) a police officer may take a person into custody if the officer has reason to believe the person is mentally ill, and it is substantially probable that the person will cause physical harm, Wis. Stat. § 51.15(1); (2) when an officer takes a person into custody under such circumstances, the officer fills out and signs a statement of emergency detention related to the individual and to the circumstances the officer witnessed that justify taking the person into custody, § 51.15(4); (3) the officer is obligated to either transport or arrange for the transport of such a person to a state treatment facility for evaluation, diagnosis and potential treatment, § 51.15(2); (4) records that are created in the course of providing services to persons for mental illness and maintained by the department or treatment facility are "registration records," Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(am); (5) "treatment records" include all "registration records" that are "maintained" by treatment facilities, § 51.30(1)(b); (6) "treatment records" must remain confidential and are privileged, § 51.30(4)(a); and (7) "treatment records" may be released by court order, when the person to whom the records relate does not provide written informed consent authorizing their release, § 51.30(4)(b)4.
¶20 We conclude that the sum of these directives, as they relate to
Gray, is that the statements of emergency detention are "registration
records"; and therefore, they are exempt from the public records
request. They are also
"confidential and . . . privileged"
"treatment records" protected by statute.
¶21 Watton contends, however, that notwithstanding the inclusion of some statements of emergency detention within the classification of "registration records," the records he seeks are not "treatment records" because they are not being "maintained" by a "treatment facility" or a "department" of the type listed in Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(b). Watton asserts that these records are "maintained" by the City of Milwaukee Police Department. Watton concedes that ch. 51 precludes him from obtaining the statements of emergency detention that are physically in the possession of a treatment facility. However, he contends that ch. 51 does not preclude him from obtaining statements of emergency detention in the physical possession of the police department. Watton reasons that, although the copies of statements of emergency detention kept within the police department are duplicate copies of the statements maintained by the treatment facility, the original and its duplicate do not warrant the same treatment under the statutes. We disagree.
¶22 The plain language of ch. 51 coupled with our obligation to construe statutes to avoid absurd results causes us to conclude that copies of statements of emergency detention in the possession of the police department do not lose their classification as records "maintained" by a treatment facility. Accordingly, the copies of the statements of emergency detention in the possession of the police department continue to be "treatment records" exempt from disclosure.
¶23 First, Wis. Stat. § 51.15(4)(b) states that the treatment facility may, within its discretion, alter the statement of emergency detention the officer completes and files with the facility. The facility then files the original statement of emergency detention and the supplement to that statement, if any, with the court having jurisdiction in the county in which the officer took the person into custody. Section 51.15(4)(b) provides in relevant part:
(b) Upon delivery of the individual [to the treatment facility and] . . . [i]f the individual is detained, the treatment director or his or her designee may supplement in writing the statement filed by the law enforcement officer . . ., and shall designate whether the subject individual is believed to be mentally ill, developmentally disabled or drug dependent, if no designation was made by the law enforcement officer . . . . The treatment director or designee shall then promptly file the original statement together with any supplemental statement and notification of detention with the court having probate jurisdiction in the county in which the individual was taken into custody.
When the treatment facility has the original and copies of the statement of emergency detention and it files the original with the court, the copies the treatment facility retains do not change their character. They contain the same confidential mental health information as they did when all the documents were physically in the hands of the treatment facility, and the concern for maintaining their confidentiality remains the same.
¶24 The obligations that Wis. Stat. § 51.15(4)(b) places on treatment facility directors or their designees with respect to statements of emergency detention indicate that the copies of the statements of emergency detention in the possession of the City of Milwaukee Police Department are nevertheless records "maintained" by the treatment facility. For example, facility directors or their designees are charged with supplementing the record filed by the police officer, if needed, and with filing the statement of emergency detention and any supplement with the appropriate circuit court, § 51.15(4)(b), thereby maintaining the statement in the form most helpful to the circuit court. In contrast, the City of Milwaukee Police Department is not charged with any obligation with respect to statements of emergency detention, after the original statements have been delivered to the detention or treatment facility. The police department retains a copy merely to keep track of transport costs and whether the Department of Health and Family Services, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 51.20(14), has reimbursed the police department for those costs.
¶25 Second, Wis. Stat. § 51.30
evidences the legislature's decision to keep mental health treatment
information confidential. See Billy
Jo W. v. Metro, 182
¶26 Watton acknowledges that ch. 51 prohibits him from obtaining the
statements of emergency detention kept by the treatment facility absent written
informed consent or a court order; however, he argues that ch. 51 does not
prohibit him from obtaining the statements of emergency detention kept by the
police department. As we have explained,
Watton's interpretation is contrary to the confidentiality provisions of ch. 51
and, if applied, would lead to an absurd result. We avoid statutory interpretations that lead
to absurd results. See, e.g.,
¶27 Our analysis of ch. 51 shows that statements of emergency detention
are "treatment records." The
Mental Health Act specifically exempts such records from disclosure,
designating them as "confidential and . . . privileged to the subject
¶28 Because we conclude that the Mental Health Act by its terms defines
statements of emergency detention as "treatment records," which it
expressly exempts from disclosure without written informed consent or a court
order, we need not address Watton's argument that the balance of interests
between Wisconsin's policy of open government and Gray's interests in keeping
his mental health records private tips in favor of disclosure. See Woznicki, 202
¶29 We also note that our decision does not necessarily thwart Watton's
attempt to obtain Gray's statements of emergency detention. As provided in
¶30 The issue presented is whether, upon an open records request to the City of Milwaukee Police Department, provisions of the Mental Health Act, ch. 51 of the Wisconsin Statutes, preclude disclosure of duplicate copies of statements of emergency detention that are in the possession of the police department, absent written informed consent or a court order. We conclude that it does; and therefore, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals.
By the Court.The decision of the court of appeals is reversed.
¶31 SHIRLEY S. ABRAHAMSON, C.J. (concurring). I agree that the records at issue in the instant case are "treatment records" and are subject to the confidentiality and privilege provisions of Wis. Stat. § 51.30(4).
¶32 The majority opinion purports to reach this result by relying on the "plain language" of the statutory definition of treatment records in § 51.30(1)(b). It does not. The holding in the majority opinion is at odds with the text of § 51.30(1)(b).
¶33 "Treatment records" are defined in Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(b) by how they are created and by whom they are maintained. The statutory definition of treatment records is as follows:
"Treatment records" include the registration and all other records that are created in the course of providing services to individuals for mental illness . . . and that are maintained by the [Department of Health Services], by county departments under s. 51.42 or 51.437 and their staffs, and by treatment facilities (emphasis added).
¶34 In the instant case, the original record at issue undisputedly was maintained by a treatment facility. Consequently, the original record fits the statutory definition of a "treatment record."
¶35 Watton, however, sought a copy of that treatment record from the police department. No treatment facility (or other entity enumerated in Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(b)) "maintained" the copy of the treatment record that was in the possession of the police department. The copy was just on file with the police department for police department administrative purposes.
¶36 Confusingly, the majority opinion appears to conclude at ¶24 that the copy of the treatment record on file with the police department is "maintained" by the treatment facility, because treatment facility directors or their designees are charged by statute with supplementing the original record that the treatment facility possesses. The majority opinion's reasoning is odd. The obligation of treatment facility directors or their designees to supplement the original record on file with the treatment facility shows only what Watton already concedesthat the original record on file with the treatment facility is "maintained" by the treatment facility. The question in the instant case is whether the copy of the record on file with the police department also is "maintained" by the treatment facility. The majority opinion concedes, as it must, that treatment facility directors or their designees are not statutorily required to supplement copies of treatment records that happen to be on file with the police department or any other entity.
¶37 Consequently, the copy of the treatment record filed with the police department was not in the possession of, or supplemented or in any other sense "maintained" by, a treatment facility. The copy of the treatment record thus does not fall within the text of § 51.30(1)(b); the copy was not maintained by any of the statutorily enumerated persons or entities. The majority opinion errs in concluding that copies of statements of emergency detention in the possession of the police department are records "maintained" by a treatment facility.
¶38 The majority opinion's repeated statements that it relies on the plain language of the statute to hold that a copy of a treatment record filed with the police department is maintained by the treatment facility make no sense in light of the text of the statute.
¶39 Indeed, the majority opinion implicitly concedes as much when it acknowledges that it must lean on the "absurd results" doctrine in deciding the present case. The doctrine that a statute will not be interpreted to reach an absurd result is used to avoid interpreting a statute in accordance with its plain language or is used when a statute is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation.
¶40 The majority opinion need not stretch either the text of Wis. Stat. § 51.30(b) or logic to arrive at the correct interpretation of the statute at issue. The majority opinion should be relying (as it sometimes does) on the purpose of the statute derived from its context and legislative history and the consequences of various interpretations, without deceptively characterizing its analysis as a "plain language" analysis.
¶41 I agree that in determining the meaning of a statute, a court turns first to the text of the statute. However, the court's inquiry is not limited to the text of the statutory provision. A court considers the statute's purpose, any related provisions or statutes, prior case law interpreting the statute, statutory history, legislative history, rules (also known as maxims or canons) of statutory interpretation, and other available persuasive material. In doing so, a court aims to give effect to the legislative intent, as the majority opinion recognizes.
¶42 As I see this case, Wis. Stat. § 51.30(1)(b) defining treatment records cannot be read in a way that defeats the purpose of § 51.30(4), which is to maintain the confidentiality of certain records. The legislature could not have intended that § 51.30(1)(b) be interpreted in a way that undermines or circumvents the carefully drafted legislative provisions set forth in § 51.30(4) limiting access to treatment records. Because the record at issue in the instant case is a copy of another record that indisputably falls within § 51.30(1)(b)'s definition of "treatment records," and is in the police department solely for administrative cost-accounting purposes relating to transportation of persons, the copy must fall within the scope of § 51.30(4), limiting access to "treatment records."
¶43 I write separately to set forth a more forthright statutory interpretation.
¶44 I am authorized to state that Justice ANN WALSH BRADLEY joins this opinion.
 Watton v. Hegerty,
2007 WI App 267, 306
 The Honorable Clare L. Fiorenza, presided.
 Statements of emergency detention are created pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 51.15(1)(a) and (4)(a) (2005-06). Those sections provide, respectively, in relevant part:
(1) Basis for detention. (a) A law enforcement officer or other person authorized to take a child into custody under ch. 48 or to take a juvenile into custody under ch. 938 may take an individual into custody if the officer or person has cause to believe that the individual is mentally ill, is drug dependent, or is developmentally disabled, and that the individual evidences any of the following:
1. A substantial probability of physical harm to himself or herself as manifested by evidence of recent threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm.
2. A substantial probability of physical harm to other persons as manifested by evidence of recent homicidal or other violent behavior on his or her part, or by evidence that others are placed in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm to them, as evidenced by a recent overt act, attempt or threat to do serious physical harm on his or her part.
3. A substantial probability of physical impairment or injury to himself or herself due to impaired judgment, as manifested by evidence of a recent act or omission. . . .
. . . .
(4) Detention procedure;
All subsequent references to the Wisconsin Statutes are to the 2005-06 version unless otherwise indicated.
 For purposes of this appeal, the facts of this case are not in dispute.
 At the time of the request, Nannette Hegerty was the Chief of the City of Milwaukee Police Department. As Chief, she was the police department's official records custodian. Accordingly, for the remainder of this opinion, we refer to her as "the custodian."
 Wisconsin Stat.
§§ 19.31-39 constitute
19.35 Access to records; fees. (1) Right to inspection. (a) Except as otherwise provided by law, any requester has a right to inspect any record. Substantive common law principles construing the right to inspect, copy or receive copies of records shall remain in effect. The exemptions to the requirement of a governmental body to meet in open session under s. 19.85 are indicative of public policy, but may be used as grounds for denying public access to a record only if the authority or legal custodian under s. 19.33 makes a specific demonstration that there is a need to restrict public access at the time that the request to inspect or copy the record is made.
. . . .
19.36 Limitations upon access and withholding. (1) Application of other laws. Any record which is specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal law or authorized to be exempted from disclosure by state law is exempt from disclosure under s. 19.35(1), except that any portion of that record which contains public information is open to public inspection as provided in sub. (6).
 The records request referred to Gray by nine aliases, six addresses and two dates of birth. Notwithstanding the alternate identities Watton ascribed to Gray, the custodian states there is no confusion over the identity of the individual Watton refers to in his records request.
 Watton is counsel for
the family of and the Estate of Thomas Moore, II.
Gray had been in and out of custody in the month
leading up to
 Given this case's unusual
posture, whereby Watton petitioned for a writ of mandamus before the police
department denied his records request, there is a lack of clarity in our
case law regarding whether it is Watton or whether it is the custodian who
bears the initial burden of persuasion.
We have recognized that, within the open records law, the legislature
has created a presumption of accessibility to public records. Nichols
v. Bennett, 199
This case presents a different posture, however, than the one contemplated in Breier. Watton filed a petition for a writ of mandamus before the City of Milwaukee Police Department denied access to the statements of emergency detention related to Gray and, accordingly, also before the City of Milwaukee Police Department provided him reasons for its subsequent denial.
Watton jumped the gun by filing his petition for a writ before the City of
Milwaukee Police Department denied him access to certain records he sought, we
decline to place the burden of persuasion entirely on him, as would normally
follow from filing a petition for mandamus.
 But see, Hempel
v. City of Baraboo, 2005 WI 120, ¶27,
284 Wis. 2d 162, 699 N.W.2d 551, in which we stated that "[w]hen a
person makes an open records request for records containing personally
identifiable information under Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1)(am), the person is entitled to inspect
the records unless the surrounding factual circumstances reasonably fall within
one or more of the statutory exceptions to (am)." Accordingly, such requests are not subject to
common law or public policy exceptions.
 See note 8, supra. Gray defended against charges filed by
the State as a result of his alleged shooting of
 The "[d]epartment" is not defined in ch. 51. Rather, it is defined in chapter 46:
46.011 Definitions. In chs. 46, 48, 50, 51, 54, 55 and 58:
(1) "Department" means the department of health and family services.
 The legislature has
established that "all treatment records shall remain confidential
and are privileged."
 Although the treatment facility is statutorily permitted to supplement the statement of emergency detention as it deems necessary before submitting the statement to a court, the treatment facility is not obligated also to supplement the copy of the statement of emergency detention that the police department retains.
Transportation; expenses. The sheriff or any law enforcement officer shall transport an individual who is the subject of a petition and execute the commitment . . . . The director of the county department under s. 51.42 or 51.437 may request the sheriff to provide transportation for a subject individual or may arrange any other method of transportation which is feasible. The county department may provide reimbursement for the transportation costs from its budgeted operating funds.
 Although the plain
meaning of the open records law and of ch. 51 support our interpretation, we
observe that the legislative history of the open records law also supports our
interpretation. See State ex
rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court for Dane County, 2004 WI 58, ¶51, 271 Wis. 2d 633,
681 N.W.2d 110 (stating that we may consult legislative sources, even when a
statute is not ambiguous, to "confirm or verify a plain-meaning
This bill recodifies, clarifies and amplifies state law concerning access to public records. . . . Although there is a presumption in favor of public access, certain exceptions to the right of access have become accepted . . . . Such exceptions include instances in which records are expressly closed by specific laws.
Drafting File for ch. 335, Laws of 1981, Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau of 1981 S.B. 250, Legislative Reference Bureau, Madison, Wis.
 Because Watton has
failed to show that he satisfies the first of the four prerequisites to
mandamus, we do not consider whether he satisfies the other three: the custodian has a plain duty to disclose
the records he seeks; substantial damages would result if the petition for the
writ were denied; and Watton has no other adequate remedy at law. Greer, 287
 In addition to reversing the circuit court's denial of Watton's petition, the court of appeals also upheld the circuit court's conclusion that the 41 days it took the City of Milwaukee Police Department to respond to Watton's records request complied with the requirement in Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a) that a governmental entity respond to a request for records "as soon as practicable and without delay." Watton did not appeal the court of appeals decision with respect to compliance with § 19.35(4)(a); therefore, we do not consider that issue.
 Majority op., ¶24 n.14.
 See, e.g., majority op., ¶22, 25, 26 & n.16.
 See id., ¶22.
 See Teschendorf
v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 2006 WI 89, ¶32, 293 Wis. 2d 123, 717 N.W.2d 258 ("Although the
meaning of the statute appears to be plain, a literal application of the
language would be absurd."); Seider v. O'Connell, 2000 WI 76, ¶32, 236 Wis. 2d 211, 612 N.W.2d 659 ("As a general
rule, courts apply the ordinary and accepted meaning of language in statutes,
unless it leads to an absurd result.") (internal citation omitted); State
v. Delaney, 2003 WI 9, ¶15,
See also 2A Norman J. Singer & J.D. Shambie Singer, Statutes and Statutory Construction (7th ed. 2007) § 45:12, at 101, 107) ("It is fundamental, however, that departure from the literal construction of a statute is justified when such construction would produce an absurd and unjust result and would clearly be inconsistent with the purposes and policies of the act in question. . . . If one reasonable interpretation of a statute yields absurd results while the other interpretation yields no such absurdities, the latter interpretation is preferred.") (footnotes omitted).
 See majority op., ¶25.
 See id., ¶22.
 See, e.g., Racine Harley-Davidson, Inc. v. State Div. of Hearings & Appeals, 2006 WI 86, ¶92, 292 Wis. 2d 549, 717 N.W.2d 184 (2006) (construing the statute's terms to be consistent with its express purpose); State v. Hayes, 2004 WI 80, ¶39, 273 Wis. 2d 1, 681 N.W.2d 203 (2004) ("We therefore turn to an analysis of the purpose[ ] . . . of the statute to determine the interpretation that gives the statute its intended effect.").
 See, e.g., Racine
 See, e.g., State
v. Robert K., 2005 WI 152, ¶30, 286
 See, e.g., Richards v. Badger Mut. Ins. Co., 2008 WI 52, ¶22; ___
 See, e.g., Racine
 State v. Popenhagen,
2008 WI 55, ¶42, ___
 See majority op., ¶16.
State v. Hayes, 273
 See Popenhagen, 2008 WI 55, ¶87 ("The legislature could not have intended that the statute would be interpreted in such a way to allow circumvention of the carefully drafted legislative requirements and safeguards . . . .").