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The Supreme Court affirmed affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reinstating Defendant’s conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl after the circuit court set the conviction aside on the grounds that Defendant received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court held (1) the court of appeals properly conducted the analysis required under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and found that Defendant’s counsel performed as required by the Constitution; (2) expert testimony at a Machner hearing regarding the reasonableness of trial counsel’s performance is not admissible; and (3) the circuit court did not improperly rely on Defendant’s lack of remorse when it fashioned his sentence. View "State v. Pico" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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2013 Wis. Act 20 (Act 20) eliminated a circuit court’s discretion to waive imposition of the $250 DNA analysis surcharge for felony convictions. Before the legislature adopted Act 20, the relevant statute said that the court “may” impose the $250 DNA surcharge on a defendant convicted of a felony. Act 20 changed the language of the statue, saying that the court “shall” impose the surcharge. Defendant in this case filed a postconviction motion requesting vacation of the DNA surcharge. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that “shall” as used in Wis. Stat. 973.046(1r) is mandatory, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to remove the DNA surcharge from his judgment of conviction. View "State v. Cox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that the Honorable Frank M. Calvert be suspended from the office of circuit court commissioner without compensation and prohibited from exercising any of the powers or duties of a circuit court commission in Wisconsin for a period of fifteen days due to Commissioner Calvert’s judicial misconduct. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Commissioner Calvert alleged that he had engaged in judicial misconduct in presiding over an action seeking a harassment injunction. The Judicial Conduct Panel made conclusions of law and recommended that the Supreme Court suspend Commissioner Calvert for no more than fifteen days. The Supreme Court adopted the panel’s undisputed findings and conclusions of law and agreed that a fifteen-day suspension was in order. View "Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Honorable Frank M. Calvert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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In this case arising out of the approval of a redevelopment project in the City of Eau Claire, which relied in part on funds derived from two tax incremental districts (TIDs), the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the court of appeals. Plaintiffs, Voters with Facts, et al., challenged the legality of the City’s actions with regard to the TIDs. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief on their claims and argued, in the alternative, that under certiorari review the City had acted outside the scope of its lawful authority. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint as to declaratory judgment, agreeing that Plaintiffs lacked standing. But the court reversed and remanded for certiorari review because the circuit court had not directly addressed that claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that certiorari review was appropriate because it is the proper mechanism for a court to test the validity of a legislative determination. Because the record was insufficient to enable this Court’s review, a remand to the circuit court for certiorari review of Plaintiffs’ first and second claims was required. View "Voters with Facts v. City of Eau Claire" on Justia Law

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Applying the teachings of Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 473 (1980), the Supreme Court held that the law enforcement officers in this case lawfully entered Defendant’s residence to execute two valid warrants for Defendant’s arrest and lawfully seized evidence discovered in the search incident to Defendant’s arrest. Defendant was convicted of obstructing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that his arrest and the subsequent search were unconstitutional. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the hot pursuit doctrine allowed the lawful enforcement officers to follow Defendant from his driveway into his home to effectuate his arrest. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) because this case is governed by Payton, the applicability of the hot pursuit doctrine need not be addressed; and (2) applying Payton to the undisputed facts of this case, the police officers’ entry into Defendant’s home to execute two valid warrants for Defendant’s arrest was constitutionally permissible. View "State v. Delap" on Justia Law

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The short-term rentals of Defendants’ property did not constitute “commercial activity” under the restrictive covenant that encumbered its property. Defendants purchased property in a subdivision and began renting it to vacationers on both short-term and long-term bases. Several neighboring property owners brought suit, claiming that a restrictive covenant that encumbered all lots in the subdivision precluded short-term rentals of property. The circuit court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs and enjoined Defendants from further short-term rentals. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the term “commercial activity” in the restrictive covenant is ambiguous; and (2) as narrowly interpreted by the Court, the term “commercial activity” does not prelude either short-term or long-term rentals of Defendants’ property. View "Forshee v. Neuschwander" on Justia Law

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A wine grantor-dealer relationship is not included within the definition of a dealership in Wis. Stat. 135.02(3)(b). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit certified to the Supreme Court the question answered above in order to determine whether Winebow, Inc.’s attempt to end its business relationship with two wine distributors was governed by the unilateral termination limitations of the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL), Wis. Stat. 135.03. Winebow argued that its unilateral termination of its relationship with the distributors was permissible because the parties’ business relationship was not an “intoxicating liquor” dealership entitled to the protections of the WFDL. The Supreme Court held that the operative definition of “intoxicating liquor” for purposes of Wis. Stat. ch. 135 explicitly excludes wine, and therefore, a wine grantor-dealer relationship is not included within the definition of a dealership in section 135.02(3)(b). View "Winebow, Inc. v. Capitol-Husting Co., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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At issue was whether the Building Permit Rule (Rule) extended to land identified in a building permit application as part of a project upon which no actual construction was planned. Golden Sands Diary, LLC obtained a building permit for seven farm structures. Its building permit application identified the building site as 100 acres and its total acreage as 6,388 acres, on which it sought to operate a farm. After Golden Sands filed its building permit application, the Town of Saratoga enacted a zoning ordinance seeking to prohibit agricultural uses such as those proposed by Golden Sands. Golden Sands argued that the Rule extended to all the land identified in its building permit application, and therefore, it had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. The circuit court concluded that the Rule extends to all land identified in a building permit application. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Rule applies only to building structures and not to use of land. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Rule extends to all land specifically identified in a building permit application; and (2) therefore, Golden Sands had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. View "Golden Sands Dairy LLC v. Town of Saratoga" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding that the mandatory $250 DNA surcharge the circuit court ordered Defendant to pay violated the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions and affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling that the circuit court did not rely on an improper factor when it sentenced Defendant. Defendant was convicted of felony murder and felon in possession of a firearm. The circuit court imposed the mandatory DNA surcharge under the DNA surcharge statute, Wis. Stat. 973.046, and sentenced Defendant to a period of initial confinement of ten years and extended supervision of seven and a half years. The court of appeals upheld Defendant’s sentence but reversed on the DNA charge, concluding that the circuit court should have applied the discretionary DNA surcharge statute in effect when Defendant committed his crime rather than the mandatory DNA surcharge statute in effect when Defendant was sentenced. The Supreme Court (1) reinstated the $250 surcharge as part of Defendant’s judgment, holding that the mandatory DNA surcharge statute is not an ex post facto law because the surcharge is not punishment under the intent-effects test; and (2) affirmed Defendant’s sentence. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When a foreclosure action brought on a borrower’s default on a note has been dismissed with prejudice, and the lender has not validly accelerated payment of the amount due under the note, claim preclusion does not bar the lender from bringing a subsequent foreclosure action based upon the borrower’s continuing default on the same note. After Borrower defaulted on a note, Lender filed suit seeking to foreclose on the property securing the note. The circuit court determined that Lender failed to present sufficient evidence to prevail in its foreclosure action and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice. Later, Bank, the entity servicing Borrower's loan, sent Borrower a notice of intent to accelerate payment of the note. Borrower did not cure his default, and Bank filed a complaint initiating the instant lawsuit. Borrower moved to dismiss, arguing that the lawsuit was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. The circuit court did not apply claim preclusion to any default alleged to have occurred after judgment was entered in the earlier lawsuit. The Supreme Court affirmed this conclusion, holding that claim preclusion did not bar the second lawsuit because the lawsuit alleged new facts giving rise to a new and subsequent default and a different transaction than that presented in the first foreclosure action. View "Federal National Mortgage Ass’n v. Thompson" on Justia Law