Court Sanctions in Wisconsin
Sometimes litigants going through a civil matter, do not understand the significance of complying with court orders or rules and laws that govern pre-trial matters. There is a duty to cooperate with discovery under Chapter 804; that means timely complying with discovery requests, such as written interrogatories, that must be answered under oath within 30 days of receipt, same for request for production of documents. That also means if you are noticed to give deposition testimony, as a party to the case, you are compelled to appear for your deposition, unless the date is changed due to work related issues or other significant reasons. You can’t just “not show up” for your deposition or refuse to answer questions during the deposition.
It also means if the court issues a scheduling order that would involve such matters as naming witnesses, cutoff dates for filing pre-trial motions, dates certain where proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce must be completed, discovery cutoffs, or requirements to attend mediation, you must strictly adhere to all of those time deadlines imposed by the court.
What could happen if a party fails to cooperate with either pre-trial discovery or fails to comply with scheduling orders issued by the court? Wis. Stat s. 804.12 (2) (a) and s. 805.03 allows the court to impose sanctions for failing to prosecute and failing to comply with court orders. It has been determined in Wisconsin that failure to comply with circuit court scheduling and discovery orders without clear and justifiable excuse is “egregious conduct.” Where the circuit court finds that failures to respond to discovery and follow court orders that are “extreme, substantial and persistent,” it may dismiss the action with prejudice on the grounds that the conduct is egregious. See. Industrial Roofing Serv. v Marquardt 299 Wis. 2nd 81. (2007).
So, the next time you are thinking of blowing off discovery, or that the scheduling orders of the court are mere “suggestions” of what you need to do, think again. These rules and laws apply to the lawyers as well as the litigants who may be pro se and representing themselves in a divorce action. A person risks monetary sanctions, issue preclusion and possible dismissal of their case. Those are pretty hefty fines and consequences for someone who decides to intentionally and maliciously, thumb their nose at the court.“Just, don’t do it!”