Cook v. Cook, 208 Wis. 2d 166, 560 N.W.2d 246 (1997)
The judges on Wisconsin’s Court of Appeals are elected from 4 different districts in the state. Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Abrahamson explained that the Wisconsin Constitution and statutes require the 4 districts to function as a unitary court of appeals. They cannot overrule each other. Only the Wisconsin Supreme Court may overrule, modify, or withdraw language from a published decision from the court of appeals.
State ex rel. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2011 WI 43, 334 Wis. 2d 70, 798 N.W.2d 436
Act 10 curtailed state employees’ collective bargaining rights and raised their contributions to their health care and pensions. A circuit court voided the Act because the legislature had violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law when enacting it. Proponents of the law petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a “supervisory writ” vacating the circuit court’s order. Because the proponents could not satisfy the requirements for a writ, a majority of the court recast their petition as a petition for “original jurisdiction.” Then they assumed jurisdiction and decided the merits of the controversy in one short order. Abrahamson dissented from this maneuver. She argued that the majority violated its own procedural rules and failed to provide the public with a reasoned analysis on politically charged issues. As a result, the order appeared to be based on the ideology of the majority and undermined public confidence in the court.