Milwaukee County v. Louise M

In Milwaukee County v. Louise M., 205 Wis. 2d 162, 555 N.W.2d 807 (1996), the supreme court considered whether the circuit court had the authority to review a probable cause determination made by a court commissioner under the Mental Health Act. The court began its analysis by noting that circuit courts have original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters under the state constitution. See id. at 173, 555 N.W.2d at 811. It then determined that circuit courts retain their original jurisdiction even when they delegate their authority to court commissioners. See id. The court reasoned that circuit courts would be less inclined to delegate their authority to court commissioners if, in doing so, they would strip themselves of their original jurisdictions; therefore, logic dictated that circuit courts lose none of their power through delegation. See id. Applying this reasoning to a probable cause determination under ch. 51, the court held that because a circuit court retains its original jurisdiction, it may, in its discretion, review a finding of probable cause made by a court commissioner. See id. at 174, 555 N.W.2d at 811. The court identified several policy arguments that favored allowing a circuit court the discretion to review a commissioner's order. Initially, the court recognized that a court commissioner's order was not a final order. See id. at 176, 555 N.W.2d at 812. Then, analogizing to the discretion of the court of appeals to grant leave to review nonfinal orders, the court stated that similarly, "the circuit court's authority to review nonfinal orders of court commissioners should be discretionary." See id. The court also reasoned that because judges are elected and court commissioners are not "there is a need for judges to be able to review decisions of the court commissioners ...." Id.