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By Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin law has been through several evolutions over time – as evidenced by these interesting (and old) court cases we dug up from the Newspapers.com archives. Check out these old cases that you’d never see in a courtroom today.

Man Jailed for Failure to Pay AlimonyMan Jailed for Failure to Pay Alimony

On January 31, 1880, a local Milwaukee man, Joseph Budar, got himself into some legal hot water for failing to pay his wife alimony. The case wasn’t new, and Budar claimed he didn’t owe his wife anything because she’d cheated on him with another man. Alimony (now often called spousal maintenance or spousal support) has been around for eons; in fact, it dates back as far as the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, and it was created for the “discarded” wife’s lodging, food, clothing and other necessities.

(Interestingly, the same Joseph Budar was later arrested for violating the Temporary Wartime Prohibition Act – but we don’t know if he ended up paying his wife what the court said he owed.)

Wisconsin Horse Thief George MorrisonWisconsin Horse Thief George Morrison

A slippery horse thief who escaped jail in Neillsville and made it all the way to Lavelle, Indiana, was captured and brought back to Marshfield for trial on September 30, 1885. On top of being a “noted horse thief,” Morrison was a bigamist – he married five different women (maybe on account of his “gentlemanly” appearance). He was also suspected of murder.

Man Found Guilty of BigamyMan Found Guilty of Bigamy, but His Third Wife Missed Him

It’s nearly always been illegal to marry someone while you’re already married to someone else – but Gustave Lange married three someones at once. In 1890, he was found guilty of bigamy. As he sat in jail awaiting trial, his third wife got well into her cups and went to the jail to drop off some pants – and then seemingly became so agitated that neighbors feared for their lives.

What Do You Think of These Cases?

Do you know of any old legal cases in Wisconsin (or elsewhere) that were interesting to read about? I’d love to hear your stories, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino