The power to hire does not give character and distinction to the office of sheriff; it is not a power peculiar to the office. Certain duties of the sheriff at common law that are peculiar to the office and that characterize and distinguish the office are constitutionally protected from legislative interference, but the constitution does not prohibit all legislative change in the powers and duties of a sheriff as they existed at common law. Internal management and administrative duties that neither give character nor distinction to the office fall within the mundane and common administrative duties that may be regulated by the legislature. Hiring and firing personnel to provide food to inmates is subject to legislative regulation, including collective bargaining under s. 111.70. Kocken v. Wisconsin Council 40 AFSCME, 2007 WI 72
, 301 Wis. 2d 266
, 732 N.W.2d 828
The assignment of deputies to transport federal and state prisoners to and from a county jail pursuant to a contract for the rental of bed space is not a constitutionally protected duty of the sheriff's office and is thus subject to the restrictions of a collective bargaining agreement. Ozaukee County v. Labor Ass'n of Wisconsin, 2008 WI App 174
, 315 Wis. 2d 102
, 763 N.W.2d 140
A sheriff may not be restricted in whom the sheriff assigns to carry out the sheriff's constitutional duties if the sheriff is performing immemorial, principal, and important duties characterized as belonging to the sheriff at common law. Attending on the courts is one of the duties preserved for the sheriff by the constitution. When a sheriff effects the delivery of prisoners pursuant to court-issued writs, the sheriff is attending on the court and can contract with a private entity for the transportation of prisoners, rather than utilizing deputies employed by the sheriffs department. Brown County Sheriff's Department Non-Supervisory Labor Ass'n v. Brown County, 2009 WI App 75
, 318 Wis. 2d 774
, 767 N.W.2d 600
Staffing an x-ray and metal detector security screening station is not one of those “certain immemorial, principal, and important duties of the sheriff at common law that are peculiar to the office of sheriff" and is not part of the sheriff's constitutionally protected powers that cannot be limited by a collective bargaining agreement. Washington County v. Washington County Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n, 2009 WI App 116
, 320 Wis. 2d 570
, 772 N.W.2d 697
The transport of individuals in conjunction with the service or execution of all processes, writs, precepts, and orders constitute immemorial, principal, and important duties that characterize and distinguish the office of sheriff and fall within the sheriff's constitutional powers, rights, and duties. As such, the sheriff has the constitutional authority to determine how to carry out those duties and can elect to privatize those duties. That sub. (4) specifically directs that the sheriff must act personally or by means of his undersheriff or deputies is not persuasive. The simple fact that the legislature codified a duty and responsibility of the sheriff, like providing food for jail inmates, does not strip sheriffs of any constitutional protections they may have regarding this duty. Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Clarke, 2009 WI App 123
, 320 Wis. 2d 486
, 772 N.W.2d 216
A sheriff has authority to aid in a rescue on ice on Lake Michigan. 60 Atty. Gen. 62.
Neither a sheriff nor a deputy can solicit or receive compensation not provided by law for official duties, but a deputy, while off duty, can be employed as a private security officer. 61 Atty. Gen. 256.
Neither the sheriff nor the county board may “privatize" the jailer function under sub. (1). 77 Atty. Gen. 94
Neither a county nor a county sheriff possesses statutory authority to use county funds to establish a revolving bail fund for the purpose of making loans to persons allowing them to post bail for certain kinds of offenses for which they are booked into the county jail. OAG 1-09
Peace maintenance; powers and duties of peace officers, cooperation. 59.28(1)(1)
Sheriffs and their undersheriffs and deputies shall keep and preserve the peace in their respective counties and quiet and suppress all affrays, routs, riots, unlawful assemblies and insurrections; for which purpose, and for the service of processes in civil or criminal cases and in the apprehending or securing any person for felony or breach of the peace they and every coroner and constable may call to their aid such persons or power of their county as they consider necessary.
County law enforcement agencies may request the assistance of law enforcement personnel or may assist other law enforcement agencies as provided in ss. 66.0313
History: 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.28; 1999 a. 150
Suppression of evidence is not required when a law enforcement officer obtains evidence outside of the officer's jurisdiction. Any jurisdictional transgression violates the appropriate jurisdiction's authority not the defendant's rights. State v. Mieritz, 193 Wis. 2d 571
, 534 N.W.2d 632
(Ct. App. 1995).
A state traffic patrol officer should not, except in extreme emergencies, be impressed into service as part of a posse comitatus under sub. (1). If so impressed, the officer is entitled to worker's compensation, if injured, from the county or municipality but would not be entitled to regular pay from the state and probably would not be entitled to worker's compensation from the state. 62 Atty. Gen. 38.
The statutes do not permit the creation of a separate regional law enforcement agency, and neither the sheriff nor the county board has power to delegate supervisory or law enforcement powers to such an agency. 63 Atty. Gen. 596.
A sheriff may not unilaterally withdraw investigative services provided to one urbanized town within the county because the town maintains its own police department. 81 Atty. Gen. 24
Transportation, apprehension of criminals. 59.29(1)(1)
Transportation of criminals through other counties; rewards for their apprehension. 59.29(1)(a)
Any sheriff or other officer who has legally arrested any person in any county may pass across and through such parts of any other county or counties as are in the ordinary route of travel from the place where such person was arrested to the place where the person is to be conveyed, according to the command of the process by which such arrest was made; and such conveyance of such prisoner shall not be considered an escape, nor shall the prisoner so conveyed or the officers having the prisoner in custody be liable to arrest on any civil process while passing through such other county or counties.
Whenever a person convicted of, or charged with, any felony, the punishment for which is not less than 5 years' imprisonment, shall escape, or whenever any such felony shall be committed by any unknown person or persons the sheriff of the county from which such escape was made or in which such felony was committed may, with the consent of the chairperson of the board of such county when such board is not in session, and with the consent of the board when it is in session, offer such reward for the apprehension and delivery of such escaped person, or the apprehension or conviction of the perpetrator of such felony as the sheriff considers necessary, not exceeding $1,000 in any one case; but no such reward or any part thereof shall be paid to any such sheriff, undersheriff or any deputy. The right to any such reward shall be determined finally by such sheriff; and if more than one person claims the reward the sheriff shall determine what portion, if any, the claimants are entitled to, and shall certify the determination to the treasurer, and such certificate shall be the treasurer's authority for paying the sum so certified.
Compensation for apprehensions in other states; conditions. 59.29(2)(a)(a)
In all cases where by the laws of this state the governor is authorized to demand of the executive authority of any other state any fugitive from justice or any person charged with a crime in this state and to appoint an agent to receive such person, and such person is apprehended in any other state by the sheriff or deputy sheriff of the county in this state where the warrant for such fugitive from justice is properly issued, or such crime was committed, and such person voluntarily returns with said sheriff to this state without requisition, such sheriff shall be entitled to $8 per day for the time necessarily expended in traveling to, apprehending and returning with such person and the sheriff's actual and necessary expenses for such time, which compensation and expenses shall be allowed by the board of such county upon the presentation thereto of an itemized and verified account, stating the number of days that the sheriff was engaged, the number of miles traveled and each item of expense incurred in rendering such services, including the transportation and board of the person in custody. No allowance whatever shall be made to the sheriff as mileage.
The sheriff of any county having less than 300,000 population shall not receive the compensation provided under par. (a)
, unless the apprehension was duly authorized in writing by the district attorney or by the circuit judge for the county where the crime was committed. The written authority shall certify that the ends of justice will be served by the apprehension and return of the person, and the sheriff shall attach the certificate to and file it with his or her itemized account of such services.
If the district attorney certifies in writing that it is necessary or desirable, the sheriff or deputy sheriff may be accompanied and assisted in retaining custody of any such prisoner, by one or more other deputy sheriffs, who shall be entitled to compensation for such services at the rate of $5 per day, unless a different rate is established by resolution of the board, and to their necessary and actual expenses. Such compensation and expenses shall be claimed and allowed in the manner provided in par. (a)
and the said certificate of the district attorney shall be attached to the verified account of such deputy for such services.
The authority of county officials to offer rewards for the arrest or conviction of persons violating the criminal law is limited to the circumstances set forth in s. 59.25 (2) [now sub. (1) (b)]. 63 Atty. Gen. 555.
Not to act as attorney.
No sheriff, undersheriff, deputy, coroner or medical examiner shall appear or practice as an attorney in any court, draw or fill up any writ, pleading or proceeding for a party in any action, nor, with the intent to be employed in the collection of any demand or the service of any process, advise or counsel any person to commence an action or proceeding; and for violation of this section every such officer shall forfeit not more than $50.
History: 1973 c. 272
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.30; 1997 a. 35
Service on sheriff; how made.
Every writ, notice or other paper required to be delivered to or served on any sheriff may be served by leaving the same at the sheriff's office during the hours it is required to be kept open; but if there is any person belonging to such office therein, such writ, notice or other paper shall be delivered to such person; and every such service shall be considered equivalent to a personal delivery to or service on such sheriff.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.31.
Fees received by sheriff. 59.32(2)
Fees, how collected.
All fees allowed to the sheriff upon the service of an execution or a writ for the collection of money or judgment for the sale of real estate and advertising thereon shall be collected by virtue of the execution, writ or judgment in the same manner as the sum therein directed to be collected.
Fees, how paid.
All fees to which sheriffs or their deputies are entitled for attendance required by law upon any court of record shall be paid out of the treasury of the county in which the services were rendered in the manner that fees of jurors attending such courts are paid; and whenever any such officer is required to perform any service for the state, which is not chargeable to the officer's county or some officer or person, that officer's account therefor shall be paid out of the state treasury.
No sheriff, undersheriff or deputy shall directly or indirectly ask, demand or receive for any services or acts to be performed by that officer in the discharge of any of that officer's official duties any greater fees than are allowed by law; and for the violation of any of the provisions of this subsection every such officer shall be liable in treble damages to the party aggrieved and shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $250.
Because fingerprinting is not one of the items that is mentioned in s. 814.70, fingerprinting persons that have been arrested or taken into custody is not an item for which the sheriff may charge a fee. Further, a sheriff cannot impose a charge for fingerprinting persons who need to submit fingerprints to the Department of Justice in order to be eligible for certain occupations or certain kinds of employment, as a county or a county officer has only such power as is conferred by statute, either expressly or by clear implication. OAG 6-09
Powers after term. 59.33(1)(1)
Every undersheriff and deputy sheriff, compensated for services by fees or by part salary and part fees, may execute and return all writs, processes and orders in their hands at the expiration of the sheriff's term of office and which the undersheriff or deputy sheriff has, before that time, begun to execute by service, levy, advertisement or the collection of money thereon.
In counties where the compensation of sheriffs, undersheriffs and deputies has been changed from the fee to the salary system, the sheriff, immediately upon the expiration of the sheriff's term, shall turn over to the sheriff's successor all writs, processes and orders in the hands of the sheriff, or in the hands of the undersheriff or deputies, whether or not such writs, processes and orders have been partly or fully executed or returned, and such successor shall execute and return or complete the execution and return of such writs, processes and orders.
In case of a vacancy in the office of sheriff, of any county, the undersheriff and deputies then in office having then any writ, process or order in their hands shall have the same authority and be under the same obligation to serve, execute and return the same as if the sheriff had continued in office.
Coroner, medical examiner duties; coroner, medical examiner compatibility. 59.34(1)(1)
Coroner; medical examiner; duties.
The coroner shall do all of the following:
Participate in inquest proceedings when required by law, except that in any county with a population of 750,000 or more and all counties which have instituted the medical examiner system this duty and the powers incident thereto shall be vested exclusively in the office of the medical examiner. Except as provided under s. 59.38 (5)
, the board shall appoint the medical examiner. The office may be occupied on a full-time or part-time basis and the officeholder shall be paid compensation as the board by ordinance provides. The duties performed by the county coroner and not vested in the medical examiner shall be performed by the clerk. The medical examiner may appoint such assistants as the board authorizes. Whenever requested by the court or district attorney, the medical examiner shall testify to facts and conclusions disclosed by autopsies performed by him or her, at his or her direction or in his or her presence; shall make physical examinations and tests incident to any matter of a criminal nature up for consideration before either the court or district attorney upon request; shall testify as an expert for either the court or the state in all matters where the examinations or tests have been made; and shall perform such other duties of a pathological or medicolegal nature as may be required.
When there is no sheriff or undersheriff in any county organized for judicial purposes, exercise all the powers and duties of sheriff of that county until a sheriff is elected or appointed and qualified; and when the sheriff for any cause is committed to the jail of that county, be keeper thereof during the time that the sheriff remains a prisoner therein.
Serve and execute process of every kind and perform all other duties of the sheriff when the sheriff is a party to the action and whenever the clerk of the circuit court addresses the original or other process in any action to the coroner as provided in s. 59.40 (2) (o)
, execute the same in like manner as the sheriff might do in other cases; exercise the same powers and proceed in the same manner as prescribed for sheriffs in the performance of similar duties; and in all cases the coroner and the coroner's sureties shall be liable in the same manner and to the same extent on the coroner's official bonds as sheriffs and their sureties are liable in similar cases.
Perform all other duties that are required by law.
Act as coroner in another county when requested to do so.
Coroner, medical examiner; compatibility with other offices. 59.34(2)(a)(a)
Notwithstanding s. 979.04 (3)
and except as provided in par. (b)
, any person holding office under sub. (1)
may also serve as an emergency medical services practitioner, emergency medical responder, or fire fighter.
No person serving as a coroner or medical examiner, or deputy coroner or medical examiner's assistant, who also serves as an emergency medical services practitioner, emergency medical responder, or a fire fighter may participate as a coroner or medical examiner, or deputy coroner or medical examiner's assistant, in any case in which he or she may be required to participate as an emergency medical services practitioner, emergency medical responder, or fire fighter. If an apparent or actual conflict of interest arises between the person's duties as coroner or medical examiner and as emergency medical services practitioner, emergency medical responder, or fire fighter, the deputy coroner or medical examiner's assistant shall act as coroner or medical examiner in the case in which the conflict exists. If an apparent or actual conflict of interest arises between the person's duties as deputy coroner or medical examiner's assistant and as emergency medical services practitioner, emergency medical responder, or fire fighter, a coroner or another deputy coroner, or a medical examiner or another medical examiner's assistant shall act as coroner or medical examiner in the case in which the conflict exists. If there is no coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner, or medical examiner's assistant available who may act without an apparent or actual conflict of interest, the coroner or medical examiner shall request that the coroner, medical examiner, deputy coroner, or a medical examiner's assistant in another county act as coroner or medical examiner in the case in which the conflict exists. Any fees owed to or expenses incurred by the acting coroner or medical examiner from the other county shall be paid by the county that requested the acting coroner's or medical examiner's services.
If a person serving as coroner under sub. (1)
is required to exercise the powers and duties of sheriff under sub. (1) (b)
, the deputy coroner shall act as coroner or, if there is no deputy coroner, the coroner shall request under the procedures in subd. 1.
that another person act as coroner until the coroner is no longer exercising the powers and duties of sheriff.
A county board in a county under 500,000 [now 750,000] can abolish the elective office of coroner and implement a medical examiner system to be effective at the end of the incumbent coroner's term. 63 Atty. Gen. 361.
A medical examiner should be a qualified expert in pathology. 69 Atty. Gen. 44.
Appointment of a law enforcement officer as an assistant medical examiner creates an impermissible conflict between the offices. 75 Atty. Gen. 28
Deputy coroner. 59.35(1)(1)
Within 10 days after entering upon the duties of the office, the coroner shall appoint some proper person, who is a resident of the county, chief deputy coroner, and may appoint as many other deputy coroners as the coroner considers proper. The coroner may fill vacancies in the office of any such appointees, and may appoint a person to take the place of any deputy who becomes incapable of executing the duties of the office. A person appointed deputy coroner for a regular term or to fill a vacancy or otherwise shall hold office during the pleasure of the coroner. Every appointment of a deputy coroner and every revocation of an appointment shall be in writing and filed and recorded in the office of the clerk of the circuit court. In case of a vacancy in the office of coroner, the chief deputy coroner shall in all things and with like liabilities and penalties execute the duties of the office until the vacancy is filled as provided by law.
The coroner shall be responsible for every default or misconduct in office of a deputy coroner during the coroner's term of office, and after the coroner's death, resignation, or removal from office, as well as before. An action for any default or misconduct under this subsection may be prosecuted against the coroner and the sureties on the coroner's official bond or against the coroner's personal representative.
The coroner may require a deputy coroner, before entering upon the duties of the office, to execute and deliver to the coroner a bond in such sum and with such sureties as the coroner may require, conditioned for the faithful performance of the deputy's official duties; and every default or misconduct of the deputy coroner for which the coroner shall be liable shall be a breach of the bond.
Whenever a medical examiner has been appointed under s. 59.34 (1) (a)
, this section shall not apply in such counties, nor shall the coroner of such counties be responsible for any default or misconduct in office of the medical examiner.
A person holding office under this section may also serve as an emergency medical services practitioner, an emergency medical responder, a fire fighter or a chief, deputy chief or assistant chief of a fire department.
A coroner can legally appoint a deputy after the time in sub. (1). 74 Atty. Gen. 198
Coroner and medical examiner; fees.
The board shall set the fees for all services rendered by the coroner or medical examiner. The fees may not exceed an amount that is reasonably related to the actual and necessary cost of providing the service.
History: 1983 a. 146
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.36; 2015 a. 336
Moratorium on fee increases. 59.365(1)(1)
From July 14, 2015, to April 17, 2017, the board may not charge an amount that exceeds the amount that was actually charged on April 17, 2015, for any of the following fees:
Fees for services rendered by a coroner or medical examiner.
Fees assessed for the signing of a death record by a coroner or medical examiner.
Fees assessed related to coroner or medical examiner transportation services.
If on or after April 18, 2017, the board increases the amount of any of the fees specified in sub. (1) (a)
, any such increase may not exceed the annual percentage change in the U.S. consumer price index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average, as determined by the U.S. department of labor, for the 12 months ending on December 31 of the year before the increase.
Notwithstanding subs. (1) (a)
, if a board that had been providing coroner or lay medical examiner services begins providing physician medical examiner services under an intergovernmental cooperation agreement under s. 66.0301
after December 31, 2015, and before April 1, 2016, the board may one time set the fee assessed for the signing of a death record at an amount exceeding the amount that was in effect on April 17, 2015, by not more than $100 and may one time set the fee assessed for the issuance of a cremation permit at an amount exceeding the amount that was in effect on April 17, 2015, by not more than $100. Fees under this paragraph may be established without regard to any change in the U.S. consumer price index.
This subsection does not apply to a county with a population of more than 300,000.
History: 2015 a. 55
; 2017 a. 334
Service when no coroner.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of coroner, or when the coroner is absent from the county, sick or unable to perform the duties of that office, or for any reason, except the nonpayment of legal fees, refuses to serve and execute legal process against the sheriff in any action commenced in any court of record within the county for which the coroner was or should have been elected, any judge of a court of record or circuit court commissioner of the county may, on proof of the vacancy, sickness, absence or refusal to serve and execute such process, by an order to be endorsed on such process and addressed to him or her, empower any citizen of the county in which such process is to be served and executed to serve and execute the same; and that order shall be sufficient authority to the person therein named to serve and execute such process with like powers, liabilities and fees as the coroner.
History: 1977 c. 449
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.37; 2001 a. 61
Medical examiner and assistants. 59.38(1)(1)
Medical examiner, assistants; salaries; fees; report.
The medical examiner and medical examiner's assistants authorized by the board shall be paid out of the county treasury of the proper county, for the performance of all their official duties and in lieu of all other compensation, salaries to be fixed by the board. The medical examiner and medical examiner's assistants shall collect for all services performed, except in cases where the county is solely liable, all fees that coroners are by law entitled to receive, and shall keep accurate books of account in which shall be entered from day to day the items of services rendered, the titles of the proceedings in which and the names of the persons for whom rendered, and the fees charged and received, and shall, at the end of every 3 months, render to the board and to the treasurer an accurate report or statement, verified by his or her oath, of all fees and income collected by them or for them during the 3 months; and at the same time they shall pay to the treasurer all fees and incomes collected by them, or which they were entitled by law to charge or receive, not paid to the treasurer. The medical examiner or a medical examiner's assistant shall act as coroner in another county when requested to do so under s. 59.34 (2) (b)
Office and records.
The board shall provide for the use of the medical examiner suitable offices at the county seat, and the medical examiner shall keep in his or her office proper books containing records of all inquests held by the medical examiner, setting forth the time and place of holding the inquests and the names of the jurors serving thereon, together with a brief statement of the inquest proceedings.
Medical examiner's bond.
Before entering upon the duties of office, the medical examiner of the county shall deliver to the clerk a bond, subscribed by 2 or more sufficient sureties, in such penal sum as the board determines, conditioned for the faithful performance of all official duties as set forth in this chapter and ch. 979
and that he or she will faithfully account for and pay to the treasurer of the county all moneys which may come to him or her belonging to the county, and which by virtue of this chapter and ch. 979
the medical examiner is required to account for and pay as aforesaid.
Special counties; deputies and assistants; powers.
The medical examiner and his or her assistants shall be compensated for the performance of all their official duties by salaries fixed by the board under sub. (1)
Medical examiner; appointment in populous counties.
In a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county executive shall appoint the medical examiner in the unclassified service, subject to confirmation by a majority of the board. The medical examiner may be dismissed at any time by the county executive with the concurrence of a majority of the members-elect of the board, or by a majority of the members-elect of the board with the concurrence of the county executive. If the county executive vetoes an action by the board to dismiss the medical examiner, the board may override the veto by a two-thirds vote of the members-elect of the board.
Coroner or medical examiner as funeral director, limitation.
No coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner or assistant medical examiner who is a licensed funeral director, an owner or operator of a funeral establishment as defined in s. 445.01
, or an employee of a funeral establishment, and no funeral establishment with which such a coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner or assistant medical examiner is associated, shall perform any of the services of a funeral director upon the body of any person whose death is required by law to be investigated by such coroner, his or her deputy, medical examiner or assistant medical examiner. Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $50.