Justia Wisconsin Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court modified the decision of the court of appeals affirming Appellant's judgment of conviction and the denial of her motion for postconviction relief and affirmed as modified, holding that Appellant appropriately raised her challenge to the circuit court's use of previously unknown information during sentencing and that there was no due process violation in this case. On appeal, Appellant claimed, among other things, that the circuit court denied her due process at sentencing by failing to provide her with notice that it would consider previously unknown information first raised by the court at sentencing. The State responded that Appellant forfeited her direct challenge to the previously unknown information considered at sentencing because she failed to object at the sentencing hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) where previously unknown information is raised by the circuit court at a sentencing hearing a defendant does not forfeit a direct challenge to the use of the information by failing to object at the hearing; and (2) Appellant's due process rights were not violated by the circuit court's use of the previously unknown information. View "State v. Counihan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court vacating Defendant's 2005 conviction by the Mid-Moraine Municipal Court of operating while intoxicated (OWI) in violation of a City of Cedarburg ordinance, holding that the municipal court had power to adjudicate the allegation that Defendant operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated in violation of a municipal ordinance. When Defendant was again charged with OWI in 2016, Defendant collaterally attacked his 2005 conviction by proving that he had a 2003 OWI conviction in Florida. Defendant argued that, therefore, his 2005 OWI conviction was factually a second offense and outside of the municipal court's limited subject matter jurisdiction. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the 2005 judgment was void for lack of municipal court subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 2005 municipal citations invoked the municipal court's subject matter jurisdiction, which was granted by Wis. Const. art. VII, 14; and (2) even if Wisconsin's statutory progressive OWI penalties were not followed in 2005, the municipal court would have lacked competence, not subject matter jurisdiction. View "City of Cedarburg v. Hansen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Defendant's postconviction motion for resentencing, holding that Defendant did not forfeit his ability to challenge inaccurate information raised by the State at his sentencing but that the circuit court's reliance on the inaccurate information was harmless error. In his postconviction motion, Defendant argued for the first time that the circuit court violated his due process rights when it relied on inaccurate information at sentencing. The postconviction court concluded that the State introduced inaccurate information at the sentencing hearing, that the circuit court actually relied on the inaccurate information, but that the error was harmless. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendant forfeited his claim because he failed to object at the sentencing hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the forfeiture rule does not apply to previously unknown, inaccurate information first raised by the State at sentencing; and (2) the circuit court's error in relying on the inaccurate information at sentencing was harmless. View "State v. Coffee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals imposing laches and denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that this Court will not revisit its ruling that the State may assert laches as a defense to a habeas petition and that the State established unreasonable delay and prejudice. In 2007, Defendant was convicted of reckless homicide. By 2010 or 2011, Defendant knew that his counsel failed to file a notice of intent to pursue post conviction relief as promised, causing Defendant to lose his direct appeal rights. In 2017, Defendant filed his habeas petition asserting ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to appeal. The State pled laches. The court of appeals imposed laches and denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that State properly asserted laches and that the court of appeals did not erroneously exercise its discretion by applying laches and barring relief. View "Wren v. Richardson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's order vacating Defendant's 1996 judgment of conviction for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, party to a crime, and granting Defendant's postconviction motion for a new trial, holding that prejudice cannot be presumed when the entire trial transcript is unavailable. Under State v. Perry and State v. DeLeon, when a transcript is incomplete, a defendant is entitled to a new trial after making a facially valid claim of arguably prejudicial error. In making its ruling in this case the circuit court concluded that a new trial was necessary because there was no available transcript of Defendant's 1996 jury trial. The court of appeals reversed, ruling that Defendant was not entitled to a new trial because he did not meet his burden to assert a facially valid claim of error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Perry/DeLeon procedure applies whether all or a portion of a transcript is unavailable; and (2) no exception to the Perry/DeLeon procedure was available to Defendant because the transcript was unavailable due to Defendant's own delay. View "State v. Pope" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court suppressing the victim's identification of Defendant, holding that State v. Dubose, 699 N.W.2d 582 (Wis. 2005), was unsound in principle and is thus overturned and that the State satisfied its burden that the identification was reliable. The identification in this case began with law enforcement showing a single Facebook photo to the victim. Defendant argued on appeal that his suppression motion was correctly granted on the ground that the police utilized an unnecessarily suggestive procedure in violation of his due process rights as explained in Dubose. The Supreme Court overturned Dubose and held (1) due process does not require the suppression of evidence with sufficient indicia of reliability; (2) if a criminal defendant meets the initial burden of demonstrating that a showup was impermissibly suggestive, the State must prove under the totality of the circumstances that the identification was reliable even though the confrontation procedure was suggestive; and (3) under the totality of the circumstances of this case, the State satisfied its burden. View "State v. Roberson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing without prejudice criminal complaints against Autumn Lopez and Amy Rodriguez charging them with a single count of retail theft of items valued at more than $500 and less than $5,000, as parties to a crime, holding that the State may charge multiple acts of retail theft as one continuous offense pursuant to Wis. Stat. 971.36(3)(a). In dismissing the criminal complaints against the defendants the circuit court ruled that the State may not charge multiple acts of misdemeanor retail theft as a single felony. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State has the authority to charge multiple retail thefts under Wis. Stat. 943.50 as one continuous offense pursuant to section 971.36(3). View "State v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming both Defendant's judgment of conviction and the denial of his motion to suppress, holding that the court of appeals did not err in determining that law enforcement's search of Defendant's pursuant pursuant to 2013 Wisconsin Act 79 was valid. The officer in this case observed Defendant riding a bicycle in violation of a city ordinance. Defendant's movements concerned the officer, and the officer ordered Defendant to stop. The officer proceeded to search Defendant, asserting that had a legal basis to search him under Act 79 because, part, he knew Defendant was on supervision. Defendant was subsequently charged with drug offenses, and the circuit court denied Defendant's motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court's finding of fact that the officer had knowledge of Defendant's supervision status prior to conducting the warrantless search at issue in this case was not clearly erroneous; (2) corroborated tips of an unnamed informant may be considered in the analysis of the totality of the circumstances; and (3) under the totality of the circumstances, the officer in this case had reasonable suspicion that Defendant was committing, was about to commit, or had committed a crime. View "State v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Defendant's postconviction motion, holding that the circuit court properly exercised adult court criminal jurisdiction over Defendant, who was then sixteen years old, based on another circuit court's prior decision to waive Defendant from juvenile court to adult court. In his postconviction motion Defendant argued that Wis. Stat. 938.183(1) did not give the circuit court competency to proceed over the juvenile counts because, for the circuit court to waive Defendant without a waiver hearing, the statute required a prior waiver by that particular circuit court. Thus, Defendant argued, the circuit court improperly relied on the other circuit court's waiver, never acquired adult-court jurisdiction over Defendant, and thus lacked competency to preside over Defendant's case in adult court. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 938.183(1) conferred exclusive original adult criminal jurisdiction over Defendant based on the other circuit court's prior waiver. View "State v. Hinkle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's judgment granting Defendant's motion to suppress a test of Defendant's blood sample, holding that the State lawfully obtained the blood sample. A police officer arrested Defendant for driving under the influence. Defendant gave the officer permission to take a sample of her blood to determine its alcohol concentration. Before the sample was tested, however, Defendant revoked her consent and demanded the immediate return or destruction of her blood sample. Defendant's blood sample was nevertheless tested. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that Defendant's revocation of consent made the test unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State performed only one search in this case when it obtained a sample of Defendant's blood, and that search ended when the State completed the blood draw; (2) a defendant arrested for intoxicated driving has o privacy interest in the amount of alcohol in that sample; and (3) therefore, the State did not perform a search on Defendant's blood sample when it tested the sample for the presence of alcohol, and as a result, Defendant's consent to the test was not necessary. View "State v. Randall" on Justia Law