Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for failure to protect a child from sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under thirteen as a party to a crime. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that Defendant’s convictions were proper, holding (1) Defendant’s convictions were not multiplicitous and thus did not violate double jeopardy because failure to protect a child from sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under thirteen as a party to a crime are not identical in fact; (2) Defendant failed to overcome the presumption that the legislature intended cumulative punishments for her conduct, given that her conduct consistent of two separate acts; and (3) Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was without merit. View "State v. Steinhardt" on Justia Law

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The policy and practice of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) of creating and disseminating criminal history reports in a manner that sometimes indicate that some individuals who are innocent of any criminal activity have a criminal activity violates Petitioners’ constitutional rights. Petitioners challenged the DOJ’s policy and practice of creating and disseminating criminal history reports that wrongly imply that certain individuals have a criminal activity. The circuit court granted judgment in favor of the DOJ. Petitioners argued that Wis. Stat. 19.70 requires the DOJ to correct or supplement its record production when it inaccurately ascribes a criminal history to an innocent person and that the failure to correct inaccuracies violates their right to procedural and substantive due process and their equal protection rights. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the DOJ’s criminal history search reports violate Petitioners' rights, and Petitioners are to be afforded prospective relief sufficient to protect those rights. View "Teague v. Schimel" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with obstructing an officer. The State Public Defender (SPD) appointed a lawyer. Thereafter, three appointed attorneys withdrew in rapid succession. The circuit court determined that Defendant had forfeited his right to appointed counsel, and the SPD denied Defendant’s request for a fourth attorney. Defendant represented himself at the one-day trial, and the jury found him guilty of obstruction. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) right-to-counsel warnings in forfeiture cases and the procedures suggested by the dissent in State v. Cummings are strongly recommended but not required; and (2) after applying the standard enunciated in State v. Cummings to this case, it is clear that Defendant forfeited his constitutional right to counsel by engaging in voluntary and deliberate conduct that frustrated the progression of his case and interfered with the proper administration of justice. View "State v. Suriano" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the crime of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated - fourth offense. Defendant requested a new trial, arguing that his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to the prosecutor’s statements that Defendant had refused to submit to a breathalyzer test following his arrest for drunk driving. Specifically, Defendant claimed that he possessed a constitutional right to refuse to take a warrantless breathalyzer test such that the prosecutor was not permitted to seek an inference of guilt from the refusal, and therefore, his trial attorney should have objected to the prosecutor’s statements. The circuit court denied the postconviction motion with a hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) upon Defendant’s arrest for drunk driving he had no constitutional or statutory right to refuse to take the breathalyzer test; (2) therefore, the State could comment at trial on Defendant's improper refusal to take the test; and (3) accordingly, Defendant’s attorney did not render ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to argue contrary to controlling precedent. View "State v. Lemberger" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with burglary, possession of burglarious tools, criminal damage to property, and criminal trespass, each as a repeater. Defendant filed a motion to suppress seeking to prevent the prosecution from using at trial Defendant’s statement, “they caught me,” that Defendant made to detectives at the county jail. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that there was no violation of Defendant’s right to be free from self-incrimination. Thereafter, a jury found Defendant guilty on all four counts. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the question that preceded Defendant’s statement did not constitute interrogation, and therefore, Miranda warnings were not required. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State did not compel Defendant to be a witness against himself. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of operating while intoxicated and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration, both as third offenses. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress all evidence obtained during a traffic stop, claiming that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion. Before the court could hold a suppression hearing, the officer died. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, concluding that the use of the deceased officer’s recorded statements at the suppression hearing did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause or the Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Confrontation Clause protects a defendant’s right to confrontation at trial but not at suppression hearings; and (2) in this case, the admission of the deceased officer’s recorded statements during the suppression hearing did not deprive Defendant of due process. View "State v. Zamzow" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child. Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that testimony given by Catherine Gainey, the social worker who conducted a cognitive graphic interview with the child victim, violated the Haseltine rule and that Defendant’s counsel was ineffective for failing to object. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Gainey’s testimony did not violate the Haseltine rule and was therefore admissible, and accordingly, Defendant’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to object to Gainey’s testimony; and (2) Defendant’s remaining claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were without merit. View "State v. Maday" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Defendant was sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison. Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction and order denying postconviction relief. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was entitled to a new trial due to errors pertaining to jury selection and the jury he received. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Defendant’s claims on appeal failed, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Lepsch" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of a warrantless blood draw on the basis that the deputy that arrested him lacked probable cause to do so and that the deputy violated Defendant’s rights by obtaining the blood draw. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest Defendant but that the section of Wisconsin’s implied consent statutes that permits a blood draw from an unconscious individual is unconstitutional unless exigent circumstances exist, and exigent circumstances did not exist in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the deputy’s warrantless search was permissible under the exigent circumstances doctrine that relates to the risk of destruction of evidence. Remanded. View "State v. Howes" on Justia Law

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Voces de la Frontera (Voces) submitted a public records request to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. seeking all immigration detainer forms (I-247 forms) that the Sheriff received from the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement since November 2014. The I-247 forms contained immigration-related information about certain individuals held at the Milwaukee County Jail. Voces then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the Sheriff to produce the I-247 forms. The circuit court granted the writ and ordered the Sheriff to produce unredacted versions of the I-247 forms. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the I-247 forms were statutorily exempt from disclosure under Wisconsin public records law. View "Voces de la Frontera, Inc. v. Clarke" on Justia Law