Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing J.W.K.'s appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence extending his commitment, holding that J.W.K.'s sufficiency challenge was moot. J.W.K. was originally committed in February 2016 for six months under Wis. Stat. 51.20. In July 2016, Portage County filed a petition seeking to extend J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. The circuit court found the statutory dangerousness standard was satisfied and extended J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. J.W.K. filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, in 2017, the County filed a petition seeking another twelve-month extension of J.W.K.'s commitment, which the circuit court granted. The court of appeals dismissed J.W.K.'s appeal as moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that reversing the expired 2016 order for insufficient evidence would have no effect on subsequent recommitment orders because later orders stand on their own under the language of section 51.20. View "Portage County v. J.W.K." 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 Appellant's motion for early termination of probation, holding that the circuit court did not have inherent authority to grant Appellant's motion for early termination of probation. Appellant argued that, notwithstanding the requirements of Wis. Stat. 973.09(3)(d), which direct the circuit court how it may modify a person's period of probation and discharge the person from probation, circuit courts have the inherent authority to reduce or terminate a term of probation, and the statue could not take that right away. The State countered that Appellant was not eligible for early termination of his probation because he did not meet the requirements of section 973.09(3)(d). The circuit court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Wisconsin courts do not have the inherent authority to reduce or terminate a period of probation. View "State v. Schwind" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop, holding that none of the officer's questions or actions violated the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. The weapon was discovered in the glove compartment of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop. In his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment by asking Defendant whether he had a weapon in the vehicle, asking whether he held a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and verifying whether Defendant had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer unlawfully extended the traffic stop by asking whether Defendant had a weapon in the vehicle and whether he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. View "State v. Wright" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect (NGI), holding that a circuit court is not required to inform an NGI defendant of the maximum possible term of civil commitment at the guilt phase. Defendant's motion to withdraw his NGI plea was based on the circuit court providing inaccurate information to him concerning the maximum period of civil commitment should he prevail on his affirmative defense to his criminal charges. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's denial of Defendant's motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, for two reasons given in this opinion, a circuit court is not required to inform an NGI defendant of the maximum possible term of civil commitment at the guilt phase. View "State v. Fugere" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree intentional homicide for shooting Dale Meister, the father of his granddaughter, and sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of release to extended supervision, holding that Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation was not violated in this case. Specifically, the Court held (1) because Meister’s statements to family and friends about Defendant were not testimonial and therefore did not implicate the Confrontation Clause, this Court need not reach the certified questions regarding the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the right of confrontation; (2) “other acts” evidence of Defendant’s prior burglary was properly admitted for the purpose of challenging Defendant’s asserted memory problems; and (3) Defendant’s counsel was not ineffective either at trial or at sentencing. View "State v. Reinwand" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court declaring Wis. Stat. 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c) unconstitutional as applied to Defendant, holding that circuit court erred in declaring the statute unconstitutional. Defendant was undergoing treatment in the Iowa County Drug Treatment Court program when he picked up new drug charges. Based on those charges, the State moved to expel Defendant from the drug treatment court program pursuant to section 165.95(3)(c). While the expulsion hearing was pending, Defendant pled no contest to possession of heroin. Defendant subsequently filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c). The circuit court issued a declaratory judgment ruling that sections 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c) violated Defendant’s substantive and procedural due process rights. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s order after Defendant conceded that the circuit court erred in declaring section 165.95 unconstitutional, holding (1) Defendant did not have a fundamental liberty interest in continued participation in a treatment court funded by section 165.95; and (2) section 165.95 need not define expulsion procedures for treatment courts in order to survive a procedural due process challenge. View "State v. Keister" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals remanding this case to the circuit court with directions to amend Defendant’s judgment of conviction to reflect the sentence credit Defendant requested for time that he spent at liberty after being mistakenly released from prison without being transferred pursuant to a detainer to serve remaining conditional jail time, holding that Defendant was not entitled to the sentence credit. Specifically, the Court held (1) for the purpose of receiving sentence credit under Wis. Stat. 973.155, a defendant is “in custody” whenever the defendant is subject to an escape charge under Wis. Stat. 946.42 or another statute which expressly provides for an escape charge; and (2) Defendant in this case was not entitled to sentence credit because Defendant, who was at liberty, could not have been subject to conviction for escape under section 946.42. View "State v. Friedlander" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s postconviction motion, holding that trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance and that there was no Brady violation in the proceedings below. Appellant was convicted of sixteen felonies based on allegations that he had repeated sexual contact with two juveniles and exposed them to pornography. Appellant filed a postconviciton motion asserting, among other things, ineffective assistance of counsel claims and a claim that the State violated its obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The circuit court denied the postconviction motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) even if trial counsel’s performance was deficient, there was no prejudice to Defendant; and (2) the State did not violate Defendant’s due process rights under Brady when it failed to disclose impeachment evidence about a government witness’s pending charges. View "State v. Wayerski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s restitution order of $8,487.41 against Defendant for losses caused by his burglary of a residence, holding that the circuit court did not err in calculating the amount of restitution. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred in alleging prior burglaries of the victim’s home in violation of Wis. Stat. 973.20. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) there was no evidence presented at the restitution hearing to support a finding that the victim’s missing property was stolen on any other date than the date of the burglary considered at sentencing; and (2) the circuit court did not clearly err in finding that the victim met her burden in proving the amount of loss resulting from the crime considered at sentencing and in ordering restitution at $8,487.41. View "State v. Wiskerchen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s judgment of conviction of Defendant for operating while intoxicated (OWI) as a second offense, holding, among other things, that a prior expunged OWI conviction must be counted as a prior conviction under Wis. Stat. 343.307(1) when determining the penalty for OWI-related offenses. In 2011, Defendant was convicted of injuring another person by operation of a vehicle while intoxicated. The circuit court later ordered expunction of Defendant’s 2011 conviction. In 2016, Defendant was charged with one count of OWI as a second offense. The State relied on Defendant’s expunged 2011 conviction as the prior predicate offense under section 343.307(1) in order to charge him with second offenses. After Defendant was convicted, he appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a prior expunged OWI conviction constitutes a prior conviction under section 343.307(1); and (2) the State must prove a prior OWI conviction in a second offense OWI-related offense by a preponderance of the evidence. View "State v. Braunschweig" on Justia Law