- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014
Wisconsin court to decide on testing drunk drivers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide whether police can legally draw the blood of a suspected drunk driver without a warrant or the consent of the driver.

For years, Wisconsin was one of only a handful of states to grant police such blanket authority. But last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Missouri case that police don’t always have the power to draw blood without a warrant or consent. In the wake of the high court decision, Wisconsin police have shied away from taking blood tests for alcohol content without consent or a warrant.

The Wisconsin high court announced Tuesday it will consider three drunken driving cases, two of which involved a homicide. The rulings are expected to clarify how law enforcement in the state can gather evidence in some drunken driving cases.

“One thing I can guarantee is the Wisconsin Supreme Court is going to indicate that the… (old) rule of law is no longer valid,” said Tim Kiefer, a Madison defense attorney.

Kiefer said any decision by the Wisconsin high court is unlikely to apply retroactively to blood tests taken without consent in cases dating back years ago. More likely a ruling would apply to only those cases already before the Wisconsin courts, he said.

One case the state high court will consider involves Alvernest Kennedy, a Milwaukee man whose blood-alcohol content was allegedly three times above the legal limit to drive in August 2006, when his Chevy Impala struck and killed a woman.

Another case involves Michael Tullberg, who allegedly flipped his truck in Shawano County in 2009, killing a passenger and injuring two others.

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Federal appeals court upholds Walker’s union law

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Gov. Scott Walker’s public union restrictions, dealing another loss to unions trying to overturn the Republican governor’s signature legislation that led to massive protests at the Wisconsin Capitol three years ago.

The restrictions stripped most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. Two unions representing city of Madison and Dane County public workers filed a lawsuit in 2011 alleging the law violated their right to freely assembly and equal protection.

U.S. District Judge William Conley found the restrictions constitutional in September. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Conley’s ruling Friday, saying the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require the state to maintain policies that allow certain associations to thrive.

In its ruling, the appeals court said the law known as Act 10 does not infringe on the constitutional rights of government workers to freedom of speech and association and equal protection under the law.

The ruling said the law “does not proscribe any conduct by the unions themselves. It does not prohibit the unions from forming. It does not forbid them from meeting. Nor does it prevent the unions from advocating on behalf of their members in any way they see fit.”

The law prohibits government officials from negotiating with most of their employees’ unions on anything but wages. Any pay increases negotiated are limited to the rate of inflation, except where voters approve them by referendum. The law also dictates that unions cannot be recognized by the state or local governments unless 51 percent of all potential members - not just those voting - support the union in annual elections.

In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen called the ruling “a victory for the law and for Wisconsin taxpayers.”

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Milwaukee zoo’s baby gorilla had no trauma

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A baby gorilla who died before she reached a month old at the Milwaukee County Zoo didn’t have any signs of trauma.

In a statement Friday, zoo officials said the necropsy, or animal autopsy, showed no bruising, hemorrhage or obvious birth defects in Kassiu (CASH’-yoo).

Zookeepers reported Kassiu and her mother appeared normal Wednesday morning. But by the afternoon, Kassiu appeared weak and stopped holding onto her mother. The zoo’s medical staff examined the baby and gave her fluids, glucose and antibiotics. A neonatologist and pediatrician were also called in, but Kassiu died Wednesday evening.

Zoo officials are waiting on blood and other tests, which could take a few months.

The western lowland gorilla was born March 19 to 13-year-old mother Naku and 27-year-old father Cassius.

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State senator to announce congressional decision

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Republican state senator says he’ll announce next week whether he’ll run for Congress.

Joe Leibham of Sheboygan says he’ll announce on Tuesday whether he’ll run for east-central Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District seat.

Republican Tom Petri, a centrist, has represented the district since 1979. He announced earlier this month he won’t seek re-election after Glenn Grothman, a far more conservative Republican state senator from West Bend, announced he would run for the office.

A day after Petri’s announcement Rep. Duey Stroebel, a Saukville Republican, announced he would run for the office as well.


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