Frequently Asked Questions

Q: “What does the City Attorney do?”

A: The City Attorney’s Office represents the City of Green Bay as a corporation by protecting the city’s legal interests, advising city administration, advocating on the city’s behalf, and representing the city in court, administrative hearings, quasi-judicial hearings, and any other legal action.  Our department does not represent any individual person or resident.  The City Attorney only represents employees and elected officials in their official capacities when the City’s interests are at stake.  Just like a corporate business attorney who works solely for a corporation and does not represent any other person or business, the City Attorney acts in a similar capacity for the City of Green Bay.


Q: What doesn’t the City Attorney do?”

A: Because the Law Department only represents the City of Green Bay as a corporation, we do not provide any legal advice to private groups or persons, nor do we represent them in any private matters or lawsuits or draft legal documents for them.  If you have legal questions, you will need to contact a private attorney.  Legal advice includes interpreting laws, comparisons of cases or matters, analysis of legal arguments, or answering questions on laws, ordinances, or statutes.


Q: “I read that the City adopted an ordinance, and I want to make sure I am in compliance.  Can you tell me if I am in compliance or if my interpretation is correct?”

A: You will need to reach out to the department tasked with enforcement of that ordinance to determine if you are in compliance or if your interpretation is correct.  Most of your questions will either go to the police department or inspections office.  If you are unsure who you should speak to, send an e-mail to the law department and we will help put you in touch with the correct person.


Q: “How do I obtain a copy of documents the city has in its files?”

A: You may inspect or obtain a copy of public records by submitting a request for those documents.  In many cases, you can obtain routine documents by calling the department directly.  Otherwise, you can submit a request for public records form or send an e-mail to the law department identifying the records you are requesting.  Visit our Public Records page for more information on how to submit your request.


Q: “I need to file an appeal with the Sex Offender Residency Board.  How do I do that?”




Q: “Who do I call to report a potential City Code violation?”

A: All violations of local laws must be made to an investigative agency such as the Green Bay Police Department or the Community Investment Department. Do NOT report violations directly to the City Attorney.


Q: “Can you represent me in my case?”

A: No.  The attorneys in the Law Department do not represent individuals in private legal matters.  The City Attorney may only represent the city as a municipal corporation and its employees, departments, officers, boards, commissions, and authorities in their official capacities and in the course of official business.


Q: “I want to sue the city, how do I do that?”

A: The City Attorney cannot advise you on the procedure to sue the city.  You should speak with a private attorney if you need assistance with your case.  If your type of case requires you to file a notice of claim against the city, click here for information on the claims procedure.


Q: “How can I get a copy of the City Code or a City ordinance?”

A: The Green Bay Municipal Code is available online.  Hard copies of codes or a particular ordinance may be obtained from the City Clerk’s office located at 100 N. Jefferson St., Room 106, Green Bay, WI 54301, (920) 448-3010.


Q: “Can you refer me to a private attorney?”

A: The Wisconsin State Bar is the governing organization for all attorneys in the state.  To use the State Bar lawyer referral service, visit them on the web at


Q: “I received a municipal citation, what should I do?”

A: If you have received a citation and do not want to challenge it, you can pay it before the first appearance date on the citation.  The Municipal Court accepts payment either online or in person at 330 S. Jefferson Street.  Visit the Municipal Court’s website for more information on how to pay your citation.  If you wish to challenge the citation, you will need to appear at court on your first appearance date and enter a plea of “Not Guilty.”  Visit our Municipal Prosecutor page for more information.


Q: “Where do I pay my parking ticket?”

A: Parking tickets can be paid at City Hall located at 100 N. Jefferson St.  You can pay a parking ticket by dropping your payment in the pre-marked envelope in a drop box outside of City Hall, or by paying in person in Room 300 in City Hall.


Q: How do I contest my parking ticket?”

A: To contest a parking ticket, you must file the contestation form available in Room 300 at City Hall.  You will then receive a date to appear in Municipal Court to challenge your ticket.  If you have already filed the contestation form but still have questions, contact Municipal Court directly at (920) 448-3131.


Q: “What is the difference between the City Attorney and the District Attorney?”

A: The City Attorney is the attorney for the City of Green Bay, and is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.  The attorneys in the Law Department provide legal services to the Mayor, City Council, as well as for City departments, boards, commissions, employees, and officers. The Law Department also prosecutes violations of the Green Bay Municipal Code and non-criminal municipal court cases, but not any violations of state law or criminal matters.

The District Attorney is an elected official who investigates and prosecutes criminal activity throughout Brown County. The District Attorney represents the state and the county by focusing exclusively on prosecution of county and state crimes and offenses.  The DA’s Office number is (920) 448-4190.


Q: “I am having a dispute with my neighbor.  Can the Law Department give me advice or assist in getting the dispute resolved?”

A: No.  Disputes between neighbors are private civil matters.  You will need to consult a private attorney to obtain specific legal advice on your situation.  If the matter is criminal in nature or requires police intervention, please contact the Green Bay Police Department directly.


Q: “My neighbor’s tree is growing over the property line or overhanging onto my property.  Can the City do anything about it, or can I cut the limbs myself?”

A: If the tree poses a threat to the right-of-way, like the sidewalk or a street, the City may be able to take action against the owner of the tree.  However, if the tree poses no threat to the public right-of-way, the issue is a private matter and you need to consult a private attorney to obtain specific legal advice on your situation.


Q: “My neighbor built a fence on my property.  What can I do?”

A: The location of a fence is a private matter.  You will need to consult a private attorney to obtain specific legal advice on your situation.


Q: “My neighbor did something to his property that causes mine to flood.  What can I do?”

A: The City does not have jurisdiction over storm water runoff on private property unless there is a recorded easement on the plat which is not being enforced.  In all other instances, drainage issues are private matters.  You will need to consult a private attorney to obtain specific legal advice on your situation.