Ignore the Rules at Your Peril

A appellate case reminds us that a failure to follow the rules can be fatal to your case, regardless of the merits. In Lukszus v. City of Milwaukee, Richard Lukszys filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking judicial review of a City Pension Board decision. The procedures for certiorari review are somewhat complicated, and the deadlines for filing are absolute. Although Mr. Lukszys filed a petition for writ of certiorari within the deadline, the petition was not signed by the circuit court, as required, and his case was dismissed. He appealed, and the appellate court upheld the dismissal.

The bottom line is, if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly the government, there are specific procedures you must follow, and you must not delay. Sit on your rights and you may lose them. (I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw: “Ignore your rights, and they’ll go away.”).

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Sometimes You Can Fight City Hall!

In Cooper v Village of Egg Harbor , a dispute arose over whether a short road leading to the shore of Green Bay was public or private. The Village had paved the road at some point in the past, and it had been used, rather sporadically according to the facts given in the case, by members of the public. However the road had never been dedicated to the public, and there was no record to show ownership by the Village. One of the curious facts of the case was that apparently noone claimed ownership – not the Village, and not the landowners on either side. There were several legal theories argued in the case, but in the end the Door County Circuit Court had held that theVillage had not presented enough evidence that this was a public road to back up any of its legal theories. The appeals court upheld the Circuit Court ruling. Although a decision has been handed down in the case, from my reading, it appears that the issue of ownership will have to be worked out (you’d have thought someone would have brought that up before this got to the appeals court).

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