Justia Wisconsin Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the State Claims Board awarding Appellant $25,000 in compensation after finding Appellant was innocent of a crime for which he was imprisoned, holding that Wis. Stat. 775.05(4) does not compel the Board to make a finding regarding adequacy.Appellant pled no contest to first-degree intentional homicide and spent approximately twenty-six years in prison. After his second guilty plea was vacated Appellant petitioned the State Claims Board for compensation, seeking more than $5.7 million. The Board awarded the maximum under Wis. Stat. 775.05(4). Appellant sought judicial review, arguing that the Board should have made a finding regarding the adequacy of the amount awarded. The circuit court affirmed, but the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals grafted onto the statute a process the legislature did not sanction. View "Sanders v. State of Wis. Claims Bd." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the case against him with prejudice after a mistrial was declared, holding that retrial would not violate Defendant's right against double jeopardy.Defendant was tried on one count of trafficking of a child. During trial, the trial court declared a mistrial on the basis that certain evidence was improperly admitted. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that retrial would violate his right under the Fifth Amendment, as incorporated against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, to be free against double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court exercised sound discretion in ordering a mistrial based on manifest necessity and that retrial will not violate Defendant's Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy. View "State v. Green" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's conviction for second-degree sexual assault on the grounds that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for mistrial, holding that the circuit court properly exercised its discretion in denying Defendant's request for a mistrial.At issue was whether the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a mistrial after a witness stated during his testimony about his suspicion of Defendant that he "looked on CCAP" - a term that stands for consolidated court automation programs, which makes information about circuit court and appellate court cases available to the public. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's mistrial motion. View "State v. Debrow" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order dismissing a criminal complaint against Defendant as barred by double jeopardy, holding that neither double jeopardy, issue preclusion under the Double Jeopardy Clause, or common law issue preclusion barred the present prosecution.The first criminal case against Defendant ended in a mistrial intentionally provoked by the prosecutor. Thereafter, Defendant argued that double jeopardy, and, in the alternative, issue preclusion barred the State from prosecuting the instant case. The circuit court granted relief, concluding that Defendant was in jeopardy of being convicted of the offenses now charged. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the present prosecution did not place Defendant in jeopardy for any of the same offenses; and (2) issue preclusion did not bar the instant prosecution. View "State v. Killian" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner's petition for postconviction relief in this challenge to a condition of extended supervision and probation that prohibited Petitioner from living with any women or unrelated children without the permission of the court, holding that the circuit court erred by denying Petitioner's request to transfer the approval power to the Department of Corrections (DOC) without clarifying how the imposed condition was lawful.In denying Petitioner's postconviction motion to transfer the authority to regulate Defendant's residential placements to DOC the circuit court concluded that the DOC's practices were "incompatible with the program of probation envisioned by the court." The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court "all but said it intended to administer [Defendant's] condition through case-by-case oversight, which it cannot do." The Court remanded the cause to the circuit court for it to clarify how the imposed condition was consistent with the law or to modify its order accordingly. View "State v. Williams-Holmes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court to suppress the results of a search of Defendant, holding that the law enforcement officers had probable cause to arrest Defendant, and therefore, the underlying search was a lawful search incident to arrest.A police officer executed a traffic stop of Defendant for speeding and, during her initial contact with Defendant, "detected an odor of raw marijuana." The officer called for back-up, and two officers escorted Defendant out of the vehicle. The officers proceeded to search Defendant based on the odor of marijuana and found two baggies containing cocaine and fentanyl. Defendant filed a motion to suppress on the grounds that the State lacked probable cause to arrest and search him. The circuit court granted the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officers had probable cause to arrest Defendant on the belief that he was committing or had committed a crime, and therefore, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. View "State v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals that Defendant was not entitled to sentence credit on a Langlade County charge for time served in the Oneida County Jail, holding that, under State v. Floyd, 606 N.W.2d 155 (Wis. 2008), Defendant was entitled to credit on the Langlade County charge for which Defendant was untimely sentenced.During the course of two hours Defendant stole and drove three trucks in Langlade County and was arrested after driving the third truck over the border in Oneida County. The State brought charges against Defendant in Oneida County. While Defendant remained in the Oneida County jail the State brought charges in Langlade County. The two cases were consolidated in Langlade County. Defendant pled guilty to no contest to three charges, one from Langlade County and two from Oneida County. Defendant later filed a motion to modify the judgment of conviction, arguing that he was entitled to sentence credit on his Langlade County charge for time served in the Oneida County jail. The circuit court agreed and awarded Defendant 433 days of credit. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was entitled to credit for time spent in custody in the Oneida County Jail. View "State v. Fermanich" 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 Defendant's petition for postconviction relief, holding that any error during the underlying proceedings that may have violated Defendant's right to confrontation was harmless.Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of delivering more than fifty grams of methamphetamine. In his postconviction petition, Defendant argued that the admission of certain testimony was hearsay, and therefore, his right to confrontation under the Sixth Amendment was violated. The circuit court denied relief. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that if any error occurred it was harmless. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, assuming without deciding that Defendant's confrontation right was violated, the error was harmless. View "State v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err by ordering Defendant in this case to register as a sex offender for fifteen years rather than until his death and did not err in finding Defendant ineligible to participate in the earned release program (ERP).Defendant pled guilty to five counts of possession of child pornography. As part of Defendant's sentence the circuit court ordered him to comply with sex offender registration requirements for fifteen years and found him ineligible to participate in the ERP. The State requested that the circuit court amend the judgment of conviction (JOC) to reflect that Defendant was required to register for life. The circuit court denied the motion. Defendant also moved to amend the JOC on the grounds that it was error not to allow him to participate in the ERP. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of both requests to amend the JOC, holding that the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion. View "State v. Rector" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court overruled State v. Shiffra, 499 N.W.2d 719 (Wis. Ct. App. 1993), which created a process by which a criminal defendant could obtain a limited review by way of in camera review by the court of a victim's privately-held, otherwise privileged health records, holding that Shiffra is unsound in principle and unworkable in practice and has been undermined by developments in the law.Defendant was charged with sexually assaulting his son, T.A.J., and his daughter. Citing Shiffra, Defendant sought in camera review of T.A.J.'s mental health and counseling records. T.A.J. opposed the motion, but the circuit court concluded that he lacked standing. On interlocutory appeal, the court of appeals reversed, concluding that Marsy's Law gave crime victims such as T.A.J. standing to oppose Shiffra motions. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the circuit court with instructions to deny Defendant's motion for in camera review, holding that Shiffra was wrongly decided and is overruled. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law