Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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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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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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The circuit court’s finding that Defendant consented to a blood draw was not clearly erroneous, and Defendant’s consent was voluntary. Defendant was convicted of operating while intoxicated, third offense. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress the results of a blood test, arguing that it was an unconstitutional search because he did not consent to having his blood drawn. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, Defendant voluntarily consented to the blood draw. The dissent argued that neither a driver’s obtaining a Wisconsin operators license nor a driver’s operating a motor vehicle in Wisconsin is a manifestation of actual consent to a later search of the driver’s person by a blood draw. View "State v. Brar" on Justia Law

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Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S.C. 367 (1987), does not require officers to follow “standard criteria” when conducting a community caretaker impoundment. Defendant, a suspected in the armed robbery of a bank, was arrested under an outstanding probation warrant. Police officers chose to impound the car in which Defendant was found. Officers then conducted an inventory search of the seized vehicle at the police station, a search that turned up several items held for safekeeping. The State then charged Defendant with armed robbery. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search and seizure of the car. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the officers possessed a bona fide community caretaker justification for impounding Defendant’s car; and (2) the warrantless seizure of Defendant’s car after his arrest was constitutionally reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Asboth" on Justia Law

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Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), is not violated by the admission of a non-testifying co-defendant’s statements that are nontestimonial. Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case, Defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated. Defendant was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, as a party to the crime and with the use of a dangerous weapon, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, as a party to the crime with the use of a dangerous weapon. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court’s failure to sever his trial from the trial of his co-defendant and the subsequent admission of his co-defendant’s inculpatory statements violated his rights under Bruton. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to sever the trials because the co-defendant’s statements were nontestimonial; and (2) the admission of a hearsay statement was harmless. View "State v. Nieves" on Justia Law

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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