Wisconsin in the United States

Legal Materials

This entry is organized by the branches of government.

  • Legislative Branch
  • Judicial Branch
  • Executive Branch
  • Other Useful Information

Legislative Branch

Wisconsin Statutory Code: The Wisconsin Legislature posts The Updated Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations, an online edition of the Wisconsin statutory code with case annotations. Historical editions of the Wisconsin Statutes are available back to 1969 in the Wisconsin Law Archive. For more legislative resources, see State Laws and Codes.

Bill Status: To check on the status of a pending bill, pull up the bill history from the database posted by the Wisconsin Legislature. For questions, call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472 in state or 608-266-9960 out of state.

Session Laws: Wisconsin Acts from the current session are available on the Legislature’s Updated Wisconsin Acts page. Older Acts back to the 1957-1958 session are posted free in the Wisconsin Law Archive.

Legislative History: For information on compiling the legislative history of a Wisconsin bill, see the Wisconsin section of State Legislative History Research Guides on the Web. See also the State Legislative History entry of this Guide.

Judicial Branch

Judicial Opinions (“Cases”): Supreme and appellate court cases are published in theNorth Western Reporter. They are posted free by the Wisconsin Court System and the Wisconsin Bar back to 1995. They are searchable for free on Google Scholar back to 1950. For comprehensive coverage use Lexis or Westlaw. For more sources, see theCase Law page of the Wisconsin Legal Resources Guide. See also State Cases in this legal Encyclopedia (below).

Docket Sheets and Case Information: Docket sheets are available through the Wisconsin Court System’s Case Searches — Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) for trial court cases and Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Case Access (WSCCA) for appellate cases. Click here for court coverage. Circuit Court briefs are available from WCCA as of July 1, 2009. For older briefs, check Wisconsin Briefs Availability by Date.

Judicial Biographies: Wisconsin judicial biographies are published in the Wisconsin Judge’s Directory. Copies are available from the Wisconsin State Law Library (800-322-9755) and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law Library (608-262-3394).

Executive Branch

Regulations and Administrative Code: Wisconsin regulations are published in theWisconsin Administrative Register and codified in the Wisconsin Administrative Code. The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) posts both the Administrative Code and the Administrative Register.

Historical editions of the Wisconsin Administrative Code are available on Lexis back to 2004 (e.g., WISC;WIAD04). You can find a historical “Superseded Administrative Code Archive” at the bottom of the LRB’s Administrative Code and Register page, with instructions on how to find what you need.

For a discussion of Wisconsin regulations, see the article Investigating Wisconsin Administrative Rules by Bev Butula.

Agencies and Offices: The State of Wisconsin posts links to state agencies, the Wisconsin legislature and local government sites, plus other Wisconsin information. For Wisconsin government employee contact information use the Telephone and Email Directory. The Wisconsin Blue Book explains the organization of Wisconsin state government.

Attorney General Opinions: THE Wisconsin Legislature posts formal Opinions of the Attorney General back to 1982. The Attorney General’s Office posts formal and informal opinions from 2007 to the present. See also the Attorney General Opinions entry.

Governor’s Office: The Executive Orders of the current Governor are generally available on the Attorney General OpinionsGovernor’s web site. Older executive orders back to 1987 are posted by the Wisconsin Legislature. Copies of even older Executive Orders can be ordered from the Wisconsin State Law Library.

The Governor’s Veto Messages are available back to the 1999-2000 session in the Wisconsin Law Archive.

Other Useful Information

Corporations and Other Business Entities: The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions provides an Advanced Search for their business records database that covers Corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships and several other business entities. You can get a good standing certificate online. You can also request copies of filings listed in the database.

Document Delivery and Retrieval: For copies of Wisconsin legal materials, see the Delivery Services section of the Guide to Wisconsin Legal Information Sources.

Government Documents: Wisconsin government documents are posted in the Wisconsin Digital Archives (2000-Present).

Legal Encyclopedias, etc: The State Bar of Wisconsin posts a searchable archive of articles from the Wisconsin Lawyer going back to 1997. West publishes a multi-volumeWisconsin Practice series, available in print and on Westlaw.

Legal Research Guides: To locate additional Wisconsin legal materials, see the Wisconsin State Law Library’s Wisconsin Law page and/or the Wisconsin Legal Information Sources Guide by Bonnie Shucha. For a more detailed discussion, seeLegal Research in Wisconsin by Theodore A. Potter (William S. Hein & Co.).

Local Laws: Links to Wisconsin municipal Ordinances and Codes are posted by the Wisconsin State Law Library. See the “Local Laws” entry for general information sources.

News: The Wisconsin Newspaper Association posts a list of Wisconsin newspapers. The Wisconsin Law Journal covers legal news.

Wisconsin Public Notices can locate public notices (of adoptions, court proceedings, foreclosures, unclaimed property, etc.) that appear in print newspapers but not in most new article databases. Also check Madison.com for government notices.

Questions: For questions about Wisconsin legal materials, try calling the Wisconsin State Law Library (800-322-9755), the University of Wisconsin law library (608-262-1128) or the Marquette University Law Library (414-288-7092).

Real Estate: You can look up real property ownership records using the Integrated Property Assessment System (IPAS) posted by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

UCC Filings: The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions provides an UCC Filing Search for UCC liens.

Note: We linked the resources to archive.org in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

Primary Law

For more U.S. state primary law resources, see:

Topics Covered by the Wisconsin Legal Encyclopedia

Note: More detailed information about this State is provided in the Wisconsin jurisdictional legal Encyclopedia, which tie together Wisconsin statutory and case law.

Topics include:

  • Wisconsin Statutes
  • WI Cases & Case Law
  • Wisconsin Legal Websites
  • WI State Government Info
  • Wisconsin Counties
  • Wisconsin Cities
  • Wisconsin Legislation
  • WI Court Reporters/Depositions
  • Wisconsin Legal Forms
  • Wisconsin Courts
  • Wisconsin Local Court Rules
  • WI State Bar/Legal Associations
  • Wisconsin Law Enforcement
  • Wisconsin Media Sources


See Also

Wisconsin: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Wisconsin. This part provides references, in relation to Wisconsin, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Wisconsin by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Wisconsin and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Wisconsin or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Wisconsin and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Wisconsin. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Wisconsin should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Wisconsin when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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