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At issue was whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the City of Milwaukee complied with Wis. Stat. 70.32(1) in its tax assessment of property owned by Metropolitan Associates. Also on appeal, Metropolitan asked the Supreme Court to substitute the court’s judgment for the circuit court’s judgment regarding the credibility of witnesses and the relative weights to assign to various pieces of evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) the City’s assessment of Metropolitan’s property complied with the statute; (2) the circuit court’s findings of fact regarding the reliability of respective appraisals were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court’s findings were sufficient to support its determination regardless of whether the presumption of correctness was employed. View "Metropolitan Associates v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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In this case requiring the Supreme Court to interpret and apply Wis. Stat. 971.04(1) and (3), the Supreme Court held (1) section 971.04(3) did not apply to the facts of this case because it does not place any limitation on a defendant’s ability to waive the right to be present at any portion of trial; and (2) Defendant, by his conduct, waived his section 971.04(1) right to be present at trial. The court thus affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, which determined that Defendant waived his statutory right to be present at trial. View "State v. Washington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When an officer conducts a valid traffic stop, part of that stop includes checking identification, even where the reasonable suspicion forming the basis for the stop has dissipated. The Supreme Court in this case affirmed Defendant’s conviction for operating a motor vehicle under the influence, seventh offense, holding (1) asking for a driver’s license does not impermissibly extend a stop because it is part of the original mission of the traffic stop; and (2) the circuit court correctly denied Defendant’s suppression motion because Defendant’s stop was reasonably executed, and no Fourth Amendment violation occurred. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Debra Sands appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Menard, Inc. Sands and John Menard, Jr., were involved in a romantic relationship from late 1997 to April 2006. Sands alleged that from 1998 until 2006 she cohabitated with Menard and they engaged in a "joint enterprise" to work together and grow Menard's businesses for their mutual benefit. Menard and his affiliated entities argued that by failing to comply with Supreme Court Rule 20:1.8(a), which regulated business transactions between lawyers and their clients, Sands was precluded from seeking an ownership interest in any of Menard's various business ventures. As to the claim she characterized as a “Watts” unjust enrichment claim, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded Sands failed to allege facts which, if true, would support her legal conclusion that she and Menard had a joint enterprise that included accumulation of assets in which both she and Menard expected to share equally. Furthermore, the Court held SCR 20:1.8(a) could guide courts in determining required standards of care generally; however, it could not be used as an absolute defense to a civil claim involving an attorney. Finally, the Court concluded the court of appeals properly granted summary judgment to Sands on Menard, Inc.'s counterclaim for breach of fiduciary duty, and to the Trustees on their motion for summary judgment dismissing Sands' claim. View "Sands v. Menard, Jr." on Justia Law

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State v. Douangmala, 646 N.W.2d 1, was objectively wrong because it failed properly to consider the harmless error statutes, Wis. Stat. 971.26 and 805.18, and is thus overruled. At issue in this case was whether Defendant’s motions to withdraw two guilty pleas for two separate criminal violations should be subject to harmless error analysis pursuant to Wis. Stat. 971.26 and 805.18. In his motions filed pursuant to section 971.08(2) Defendant argued that the circuit court’s immigration consequences advisement was defective and that his guilty plea resulted in losing the cancellation of removal defense. The circuit court denied the motions, finding that the immigration consequences advisement substantially complied with section 971.08(1)(c). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the immigration consequences advisement did not substantially comply with the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) applying the harmless error analysis to this case, the circuit court’s errors were harmless as a matter of law; and (2) therefore, Defendant was not entitled to withdraw his guilty pleas. View "State v. Fuerte" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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 asserting that defense counsel at trial had been ineffective. Appellant was convicted of five crimes relating to her abuse and neglect of her son. Appellant filed a postconviction motion, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support her convictions and that defense counsel at trial had been ineffective. The circuit court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that trial counsel’s performance was not deficient. View "State v. Breitzman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s small claims money judgment for the Estate of Stanley G. Miller against Diane Storey. In the small claims action, a jury found Story liable for theft of money from her uncle when she cared for him in the last year of his life. The circuit court awarded the Estate actual damages of $10,000 under Wis. Stat. 799.01(1)(d), exemplary damages of $20,000 under section 895.446(3)(c), attorney fees of $20,000 under section 895.446(3)(b), and double taxable costs under section 807.01(3). The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court held (1) section 3895.446 is an “other civil action,” and therefore, the damages cap is $10,000 under section 799.01(1)(d), and double costs are authorized under section 807.01(3); (2) attorney fees are included within the meaning of “costs of investigation and litigation” under section 895.446(3)(b); and (3) as to exemplary damages, the court of appeals properly reversed the circuit court because the circuit court’s ruling was contrary to the clear legal standard set forth in Kimble v. Land Concepts, Inc., 845 N.W.2d 395. View "Estate of Miller v. Storey" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s consent to a blood draw was not given freely and voluntarily under the Fourth Amendment, and the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply in this case. Defendant submitted to a blood draw after a law enforcement officer stated the consequences of refusing to submit to a test. The information given to Defendant, however, was not accurate. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress the results of the blood test obtained under Wisconsin’s implied consent law. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the circuit court to reinstate its order suppressing the evidence, holding (1) the State did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant’s consent to the blood draw was freely and voluntarily given under the Fourth Amendment and thus valid; and (2) the exclusionary rule’s deterrent effect will be served by suppressing evidence of Defendant’s blood test. View "State v. Blackman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for possession with intent to deliver non-narcotic controlled substances as a repeat offender, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. A search of Defendant’s person revealed illegal drugs in Defendant’s possession. The search was warrantless but allegedly consensual. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the officer extended the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion, and therefore, his consent was void. The circuit court denied the motion after a suppression hearing. Defendant filed a postconviction motion arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at the suppression hearing. The circuit court denied the motion. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress and the denial of his postconviction motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the officer did not extend Defendant’s traffic stop because the request to perform a search of his person was part of the stop’s mission; (2) Defendant was lawfully seized at the time of the request, and Defendant provided his consent to the search freely and voluntarily; and (3) trial counsel did not perform deficiently. View "State v. Floyd" on Justia Law

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Applying Wis. Stat. 70.47(7)(aa) and Wis. Stat. 74.37(4)(a) in a manner that required submission to a tax assessor’s search as a precondition to challenging the revaluation of their property violated Plaintiffs’ due process rights. Plaintiffs brought this case claiming that the assessment of their real property was excessive and that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 74.37(4)(a), as applied, were unconstitutional because they conditioned their right to challenge the assessor’s valuation of the property on submission to a search of the interior of their home. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Town. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 73.37(4)(a) were unconstitutionally applied to Plaintiffs. View "Milewski v. Town of Dover" on Justia Law