Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
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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

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The Supreme Court answered a question certified to it from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, holding that Wis. Stat. 943.10(1m)(a)-(f) identifies alternative means of committing one element of the crime of burglary under section 943.10(1m), and therefore, a unanimous finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as to a locational alternative in subsections (a)-(f) is not necessary to convict. Defendants pleaded guilty to violations of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and, based on their previous Wisconsin burglary convictions, were classified as armed career criminals and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of fifteen years' imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1). Before the Seventh Circuit, Defendants asserted that because the locational alternatives in section 943.10(1m)(a)-(f) provide alternative means of committing one element of the crime of burglary, the Wisconsin burglary statute was too broad to fall within the definition of burglary as a predicate violent felony under the ACCA. The Seventh Circuit then certified a question of Wisconsin state law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that the legislature intended that section 943.10(1m)(a)-(f) set forth alternative means of committing one element of burglary and not elements of distinct crimes and remanded the cause to the Seventh Circuit. View "United States v. Franklin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's denial of Appellant's postconviction motion, holding that, as a matter of first impression, Miranda warnings are not required at John Doe proceedings. Appellant was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation was not violated because his John Doe testimony regarding the statement of his estranged wife to police was not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted; (2) Appellant's claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the admission of his John Doe testimony because he was not read all of the Miranda warnings failed because the law was unsettled as to whether Miranda warnings were required at the John Doe proceedings; and (3) Miranda warnings are not required at John Doe proceedings. View "State v. Hanson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming a jury verdict convicting Defendant of armed robbery and operating a vehicle without the owner's consent and affirming the denial of Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that the court of appeals properly denied Defendant's appeals. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant waived his right to object to the use of Wis JI-Criminal 140 by failing to object to its use at the jury instruction and verdict conference; (2) Wis JI-Criminal 140 does not unconstitutionally reduce the State's burden of proof below the reasonable doubt standard; and (3) discretionary reversal under Wis. Stat. 751.06 was not warranted under the facts of this case. View "State v. Trammell" on Justia Law