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 affirming the circuit court's judgment convicting Defendant of operating or going armed with a firearm while intoxicated, holding that Defendant's argument that Wis. Stat. 941.20(1)(b) was unconstitutional as applied to him was without merit.Specifically, Defendant argued that the statute violated his right to armed self-defense under the Second Amendment, as held in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) section 941.20(1)(d) is not violate the right of the Second Amendment because Defendant did not act in self-defense; and (2) the statute does not severely burden Defendant's Second Amendment right. View "State v. Christen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the law on testimonial hearsay has not changed in the last fourteen years to such a degree that, at Defendant's new trial, the circuit court was no longer bound by the Supreme Court's decision on appeal in State v. Jensen (Jensen I), 727 N.W.2d 518 (Wis. 2007).Before Defendant's criminal trial for killing his wife, Julie, the Supreme Court held that certain hearsay statements made by Julie were testimonial and that the statements were inadmissible under the Confrontation Clause. Defendant was convicted. In subsequent federal habeas corpus litigation, the federal court held that it was not harmless error to admit Julie's testimonial statements and ordered Defendant's conviction vacated. The State then initiated new proceedings against Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to exclude Julie's statements, per Jensen I. The circuit court denied the motion, explaining that, under the law today, Julie's statements were not testimonial. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the circuit court was bound by Jensen I. View "State v. Jensen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the court of appeals denying the State's petition for leave to file an interlocutory appeal of an order of the circuit court granting Defendant's discovery request, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting the request.In 2016, the State filed a petition seeking to commit Defendant was a sexually violent person. The circuit court found probable cause to believe that Defendant was a sexually violent person and bound him over for trial. Thereafter, Defendant moved the circuit court to order the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) to disclose its database so he could have an expert analyze the Wisconsin-specific base rate. Defendant asserted that the DOC's Wisconsin-specific data provided a more relevant basis upon which to calculate his risk of engaging in future acts of sexual violence and that the database was discoverable. The circuit court ordered the DOC to transmit the full, unredacted database to Defendant. The court of appeals denied the State's petition for leave to appeal the non-final order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court permissibly ordered the disclosure of the DOC database. View "State v. Jendusa" 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 and order denying Defendant's postconviction motion, holding that Defendant's counsel never conceded Defendant's guilt during closing arguments.A jury found Defendant guilty of second-degree reckless homicide with a dangerous weapon, as a party to a crime, and possession of a firearm by a person adjudicated delinquent for a felony. After Defendant was convicted, the United States Supreme Court decided McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S. Ct. 1500 (2018). Seeking to apply McCoy to his case, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, arguing that trial counsel conceded his guilt during closing arguments. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's McCoy argument failed because defense counsel did not concede Defendant's guilt during closing arguments. View "State v. Chambers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's judgment of conviction for eighth offense operating while intoxicated (OWI), holding that it was more likely than not that Defendant had a 1990 California OWI conviction, and therefore, the State met its burden of proof.The court of appeals remanded Defendant's conviction for resentencing as a seventh offense, determining that the State did not prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the existence of Defendant's 1990 California OWI conviction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the documentary evidence in the record was sufficient to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, Defendant's 1990 California OWI conviction. View "State v. Loayza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the circuit court with directions to deny Defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that Defendant was not in custody for purposes of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), when he was interviewed by a police officer.Defendant was an inmate in jail when he returned a call from an officer regarding an incident at Defendant's prior correctional institution. During the call, during which no Miranda warnings were given, Defendant admitted to the officer that he took and destroyed an inmate's missing property. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that it was bound to apply the per se rule set forth in State v. Armstrong, 588 N.W.2d 606 (Wis. 1999), that incarcerated individuals are in custody for Miranda purposes. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the per se rule adopted in Armstrong was effectively overruled by the United States Supreme Court in Howes v. Fields, 565 U.S. 499 (2012). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the decision in Howes functionally overruled Armstrong's per se rule; and (2) Defendant's circumstances did not satisfy the standard requirements for custody under Miranda's framework. View "State v. Halverson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the denial of Defendant's motion for postconviction relief on the basis that the video-recorded forensic interviews of Defendant's victims were inadmissible, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the three video-recorded forensic interviews during Defendant's trial.Defendant was charged with sexually abusing three victims, who were ages four through seven at the time of the assaults. Before trial, the State informed Defendant and the circuit court of its intent to introduce the video recordings of the victims' forensic interviews into evidence. The court allowed the State to introduce the video recordings. The jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts. The trial court later denied Defendant's motion for postconviction relief. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the video recordings were not admissible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant forfeited several of his objections to the admissibility of the forensic interviews; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the three video-recorded forensic interviews during Defendant's trial. View "State v. Mercado" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's judgment of conviction and the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion for postconviction relief, holding that the felon-in-possession statute as applied to Defendant as applied to Defendant is constitutional.In 2003, Defendant was convicted of multiple felony counts of failure to support a child. Consequently, Defendant was permanently prohibited from possessing a firearm. Defendant was subsequently charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of Wis. Stat. 941.29(2). Defendant moved for postconviction relief, arguing that section 941.29(2) was unconstitutional as applied because his 2003 conviction did not justify the lifetime firearm ban. The circuit court denied postconviction relief, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's challenge to the felon-in-possession statute requires the application of an intermediate level of scrutiny; and (2) the statute is constitutional as applied because it is substantially related to important governmental objectives. View "State v. Roundtree" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's judgment and order denying Defendant's postconviction motion to withdraw his guilty plea, holding that counsel was not ineffective and Defendant was not entitled to withdraw his plea post-sentencing.Defendant pleaded guilty to violation of sex offender registry and was sentenced. Almost one year later, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, asserting that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance and that, as a result, his plea was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary. After a hearing, the circuit court denied Defendant's postconviction motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance in failing to inform Defendant about State v. Dinkins, 810 N.W.2d 787 (Wis. 2012), because Dinkins did not provide Defendant with a defense. View "State v. Savage" 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 Defendant's Wis. Stat. Chapter 980 petition for discharge from his commitment as a sexually violent person, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the State is not required to present expert testimony to prove the required dangerousness element in Wis. Stat. 980.01(7); (2) the holding in In re Commitment of Curiel, 597 N.W.2d 697 (Wis. 1999), that the appropriate standard of review to use in Chapter 980 cases is the sufficiency of the evidence test set forth is reaffirmed; and (3) the evidence in the record satisfied the sufficiency of the evidence standard. View "State v. Stephenson" on Justia Law