Anderson v. Circuit Court

In Anderson v. Circuit Court, 219 Wis. 2d 1, 9, 578 N.W.2d 633, 636 (1998), the trial court fined defense attorney Scott F. Anderson for violating a pretrial scheduling order by arriving at court eight minutes late on the morning his case was scheduled for trial. See id., 219 Wis. 2d at 3, 578 N.W.2d at 634. The trial court first noted that Anderson was late, that it had two cases to try that day, and that it was important to the court to begin jury trials at 8:30. See id., 219 Wis. 2d at 5, 578 N.W.2d at 634-635. The court next asked Anderson why he was late, and Anderson responded that he did not have a reasonable explanation. See id., 219 Wis. 2d at 5, 578 N.W.2d at 635. The court then fined Anderson fifty dollars. See id. The supreme court held that the trial court had erroneously exercised its discretion in sanctioning Anderson, reasoning: In this case the circuit court merely stated that Attorney Anderson was eight minutes late, that it had two jury cases to try that day and that "I start my trials at 8:30. It's important for me." The circuit court did not state how the eight-minute delay would affect the court's ability to try the two cases that day or other calendared matters or why those eight minutes warranted a 50 dollar sanction. The record does not show whether the eight-minute delay caused any problems for jurors, victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, or court staff. The record does not show whether the attorney was frequently tardy. Thus, the record does not demonstrate that the circuit court examined the relevant facts, applied a proper standard of law or used a demonstrated rational process to reach a conclusion that a reasonable judge could reach. (Id., 219 Wis. 2d at 11, 578 N.W.2d at 637.) The supreme court therefore directed the trial court to vacate the order imposing the sanction. See id., 219 Wis. 2d at 12, 578 N.W.2d at 637.