2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 905. Evidence — privileges.
905.01 Privileges recognized only as provided.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 905.01 (2017)

905.01 Privileges recognized only as provided. Except as provided by or inherent or implicit in statute or in rules adopted by the supreme court or required by the constitution of the United States or Wisconsin, no person has a privilege to:

(1) Refuse to be a witness; or

(2) Refuse to disclose any matter; or

(3) Refuse to produce any object or writing; or

(4) Prevent another from being a witness or disclosing any matter or producing any object or writing.

History: Sup. Ct. Order, 59 Wis. 2d R1, R101 (1973).

This section precludes courts from recognizing common law privileges not contained in the statutes, or the U.S. or Wisconsin constitutions. Privileges and confidentialities granted by statute are strictly interpreted. Davison v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. 75 Wis. 2d 190, 248 N.W.2d 433 (1977).

A defendant did not have standing to complain that a physician's testimony violated the witness's physician-patient privilege under s. 905.04; the defendant was not authorized to claim the privilege on the patient's behalf. State v. Echols, 152 Wis. 2d 725, 449 N.W.2d 320 (Ct. App. 1989).

As s. 907.06 (1) prevents a court from compelling an expert to testify, it logically follows that a litigant should not be able to so compel an expert and a privilege to refuse to testify is implied. Burnett. v. Alt, 224 Wis. 2d 72, 589 N.W.2d 21 (1999), 96-3356.

Under Alt, a person asserting the privilege not to offer expert opinion testimony can be required to give that testimony only if: 1) there are compelling circumstances present; 2) there is a plan for reasonable compensation of the expert; and 3) the expert will not be required to do additional preparation for the testimony. An exact question requiring expert opinion testimony and a clear assertion of the privilege are required for a court to decide whether compelling circumstances exist. Alt does not apply to observations made by a person's treating physician relating to the care or treatment provided to the patient. Glenn v. Plante, 2004 WI 24, 269 Wis. 2d 575, 676 N.W.2d 413, 02-1426.

The “inherent or implicit" language in this section is quite narrow in scope and was included by the supreme court to preserve a particular work product privilege already recognized at the time this language was added to the statute, while leaving other privileges to be provided for more expressly in other statutory provisions. Sands v. The Whitnall School District, 2008 WI 89, 312 Wis. 2d 1, 754 N.W.2d 439, 05-1026.

Closed Session, Open Book: Sifting the Sands Case. Bach. Wis. Law. Oct. 2009.

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