Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Defendant's postconviction motion for resentencing, holding that Defendant did not forfeit his ability to challenge inaccurate information raised by the State at his sentencing but that the circuit court's reliance on the inaccurate information was harmless error. In his postconviction motion, Defendant argued for the first time that the circuit court violated his due process rights when it relied on inaccurate information at sentencing. The postconviction court concluded that the State introduced inaccurate information at the sentencing hearing, that the circuit court actually relied on the inaccurate information, but that the error was harmless. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendant forfeited his claim because he failed to object at the sentencing hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the forfeiture rule does not apply to previously unknown, inaccurate information first raised by the State at sentencing; and (2) the circuit court's error in relying on the inaccurate information at sentencing was harmless. View "State v. Coffee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals imposing laches and denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that this Court will not revisit its ruling that the State may assert laches as a defense to a habeas petition and that the State established unreasonable delay and prejudice. In 2007, Defendant was convicted of reckless homicide. By 2010 or 2011, Defendant knew that his counsel failed to file a notice of intent to pursue post conviction relief as promised, causing Defendant to lose his direct appeal rights. In 2017, Defendant filed his habeas petition asserting ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to appeal. The State pled laches. The court of appeals imposed laches and denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that State properly asserted laches and that the court of appeals did not erroneously exercise its discretion by applying laches and barring relief. View "Wren v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's order vacating Defendant's 1996 judgment of conviction for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, party to a crime, and granting Defendant's postconviction motion for a new trial, holding that prejudice cannot be presumed when the entire trial transcript is unavailable. Under State v. Perry and State v. DeLeon, when a transcript is incomplete, a defendant is entitled to a new trial after making a facially valid claim of arguably prejudicial error. In making its ruling in this case the circuit court concluded that a new trial was necessary because there was no available transcript of Defendant's 1996 jury trial. The court of appeals reversed, ruling that Defendant was not entitled to a new trial because he did not meet his burden to assert a facially valid claim of error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Perry/DeLeon procedure applies whether all or a portion of a transcript is unavailable; and (2) no exception to the Perry/DeLeon procedure was available to Defendant because the transcript was unavailable due to Defendant's own delay. View "State v. Pope" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court suppressing the victim's identification of Defendant, holding that State v. Dubose, 699 N.W.2d 582 (Wis. 2005), was unsound in principle and is thus overturned and that the State satisfied its burden that the identification was reliable. The identification in this case began with law enforcement showing a single Facebook photo to the victim. Defendant argued on appeal that his suppression motion was correctly granted on the ground that the police utilized an unnecessarily suggestive procedure in violation of his due process rights as explained in Dubose. The Supreme Court overturned Dubose and held (1) due process does not require the suppression of evidence with sufficient indicia of reliability; (2) if a criminal defendant meets the initial burden of demonstrating that a showup was impermissibly suggestive, the State must prove under the totality of the circumstances that the identification was reliable even though the confrontation procedure was suggestive; and (3) under the totality of the circumstances of this case, the State satisfied its burden. View "State v. Roberson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing without prejudice criminal complaints against Autumn Lopez and Amy Rodriguez charging them with a single count of retail theft of items valued at more than $500 and less than $5,000, as parties to a crime, holding that the State may charge multiple acts of retail theft as one continuous offense pursuant to Wis. Stat. 971.36(3)(a). In dismissing the criminal complaints against the defendants the circuit court ruled that the State may not charge multiple acts of misdemeanor retail theft as a single felony. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State has the authority to charge multiple retail thefts under Wis. Stat. 943.50 as one continuous offense pursuant to section 971.36(3). View "State v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming both Defendant's judgment of conviction and the denial of his motion to suppress, holding that the court of appeals did not err in determining that law enforcement's search of Defendant's pursuant pursuant to 2013 Wisconsin Act 79 was valid. The officer in this case observed Defendant riding a bicycle in violation of a city ordinance. Defendant's movements concerned the officer, and the officer ordered Defendant to stop. The officer proceeded to search Defendant, asserting that had a legal basis to search him under Act 79 because, part, he knew Defendant was on supervision. Defendant was subsequently charged with drug offenses, and the circuit court denied Defendant's motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court's finding of fact that the officer had knowledge of Defendant's supervision status prior to conducting the warrantless search at issue in this case was not clearly erroneous; (2) corroborated tips of an unnamed informant may be considered in the analysis of the totality of the circumstances; and (3) under the totality of the circumstances, the officer in this case had reasonable suspicion that Defendant was committing, was about to commit, or had committed a crime. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Defendant's postconviction motion, holding that the circuit court properly exercised adult court criminal jurisdiction over Defendant, who was then sixteen years old, based on another circuit court's prior decision to waive Defendant from juvenile court to adult court. In his postconviction motion Defendant argued that Wis. Stat. 938.183(1) did not give the circuit court competency to proceed over the juvenile counts because, for the circuit court to waive Defendant without a waiver hearing, the statute required a prior waiver by that particular circuit court. Thus, Defendant argued, the circuit court improperly relied on the other circuit court's waiver, never acquired adult-court jurisdiction over Defendant, and thus lacked competency to preside over Defendant's case in adult court. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 938.183(1) conferred exclusive original adult criminal jurisdiction over Defendant based on the other circuit court's prior waiver. View "State v. Hinkle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's judgment granting Defendant's motion to suppress a test of Defendant's blood sample, holding that the State lawfully obtained the blood sample. A police officer arrested Defendant for driving under the influence. Defendant gave the officer permission to take a sample of her blood to determine its alcohol concentration. Before the sample was tested, however, Defendant revoked her consent and demanded the immediate return or destruction of her blood sample. Defendant's blood sample was nevertheless tested. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that Defendant's revocation of consent made the test unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State performed only one search in this case when it obtained a sample of Defendant's blood, and that search ended when the State completed the blood draw; (2) a defendant arrested for intoxicated driving has o privacy interest in the amount of alcohol in that sample; and (3) therefore, the State did not perform a search on Defendant's blood sample when it tested the sample for the presence of alcohol, and as a result, Defendant's consent to the test was not necessary. View "State v. Randall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, holding that the disciplining of Defendant's attorney for professional misconduct that included his handling of Defendant's defense did not prove that counsel had provided ineffective assistance. Defendant pleaded guilty to a single count of armed robbery as a party to a crime. Before sentencing, Defendant asked to withdraw his plea due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the motion. While Defendant's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court decided a disciplinary case brought against Defendant's counsel and disciplined the attorney for professional misconduct. On appeal, Defendant argued that his attorney's discipline for his misconduct in handling Defendant's defense is proof to establish the deficiency of his counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the record did not demonstrate that the professional misconduct of Defendant's attorney prevented Defendant from receiving effective assistance of counsel, and therefore, the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion in denying Defendant's motion. View "State v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendant's petition for a supervisory writ in which Defendant argued that an automatic stay in his case began upon the circuit court's entry of a involuntary medication order rather than upon filing a notice of appeal but vacated the circuit court's order for involuntary medication, holding that the order was constitutionally insufficient. The circuit court ordered Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to restore his competency to stand trial on a felony charge. After the Supreme Court released its decision in State v. Scott, 914 N.W.2d 141 (Wis. 2018), subjecting involuntary medication orders to an automatic stay pending appeal, the circuit court stayed its involuntary medication order. Defendant petitioned the court of appeals for a supervisory writ and challenged the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. 971.14 based on its incompatibility with Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). The Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals did not err in denying Defendant's petition for a supervisory writ; and (2) the standard for ordering involuntary medication set forth in section 971.14(3)(dm) and (4)(b) is unconstitutional to the extent it requires circuit courts to order involuntary medication based on a standard that does not comport with Sell. View "State v. Fitzgerald" on Justia Law