The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a 2008 law that gave municipalities the option to limit property owners' rights to appeal assessments is unconstitutional.
The 4-3 ruling reversed a Court of Appeals decision and reaches the same conclusion originally adopted by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto in early 2009 that limiting the options of taxpayers in some cities and not others violated the equal protection clause...
The court split along familiar lines. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson along with justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks dissented
What's it all about, Alfie?
Before the 2008 law, property owners could challenge a board of review ruling in circuit court one of two ways: the court either considered the board's record to make sure there were no errors, but largely deferred to its conclusion, a process called a certiorari review, or it could basically hold a new trial over the assessment, with new evidence and no deference to the board of review, known as de novo review.
The law allowed municipalities to opt out of the latter, and instead require taxpayers to use only an enhanced certiorari review.
IOW, Shirley & Co. didn't like property-owner options--like a full-scale trial--to achieve a just assessment. "City's right, you're wrong, you lose, pay at this window."