Circuit courts possess statutory competency to proceed in criminal matters when the adult defendant was charged for conduct he committed before his tenth birthday. Defendant was charged with four counts of criminal misconduct. Defendant was nine through twelve years old during the time period charged in count one and fourteen through eighteen years old during the time period charged in counts two through four. Defendant was nineteen years old when the charges were filed. The jury acquitted Defendant of count one but convicted him of counts two through four. Defendant brought a postconviction motion alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to bring a pre-trial motion to dismiss count one. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant’s age at the time he is charged, not his age at the time the underlying conduct occurred, determines whether charges are properly brought as a criminal matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court possessed statutory competency to hear Defendant’s case as a criminal matter because he was an adult at the time he was charged; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to raise a meritless motion. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law
After the circuit court denied his motion to suppress certain statements he made during police questioning, Defendant pled guilty to second-degree reckless homicide as party to a crime. Defendant was fifteen years old at the time of the crime. Defendant requested that he be allowed to withdraw his plea, arguing that his confession to police was involuntary and, alternatively, that the incriminating statements he made that were not recorded during his custodial interrogation as a juvenile were inadmissible. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s rulings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s statements were voluntary; and (2) the police violated Wis. Stat. 938.195 by turning off the device recording Defendant’s interrogation during questioning, but the error in not suppressing some of Defendant’s statements was harmless. View "State v. Moore" on Justia Law
Defendant was a juvenile when he was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which is an offense enumerated in Wis. Stat. 938.183(1)(am). At the preliminary hearing held pursuant to Wis. Stat. 970.032(1), the circuit court stated that “there is probable cause to believe a felony has been committed” and ordered that the adult court retain original jurisdiction over Defendant. At issue on appeal was whether the adult court failed to find probable cause of a violation of the specific crime charged under section 938.183(1), as required by 970.032(1) for an adult court to retain exclusive original jurisdiction over a juvenile. The Supreme Court concluded that the bindover and prosecution of Defendant in adult court were proper, holding that the circuit court made the finding required by section 970.032(1) that there was probable cause to believe Defendant committed the specific section 938.183(1) crime charged in the complaint. View "State v. Toliver" on Justia Law
The State filed a petition alleging that Tyler T., a juvenile, was delinquent and a petition for waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction over Tyler. The circuit court waived juvenile court jurisdiction over Tyler, and the court of appeals affirmed. Tyler appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying his request to strike a waiver investigation report prepared by the county department of health and human services (DHHS). The DHHS prepared its report after conducting a staffing meeting in which the county assistant district attorney, who filed the petition alleging Tyler's delinquency, participated. Because neither Tyler nor his defense counsel was invited to attend the meeting, Tyler contended that the assistant district attorney's participation in the staffing meeting constituted improper ex parte communication that compromised the objectivity of the waiver investigation report. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Tyler's request to strike the waiver investigation report prepared by the DHHS, as the DHHS is free to compile information for a waiver investigation report in the manner it deems most beneficial to the circuit court. View "State v. Tyler T." on Justia Law
The dispute in this case involved a circuit court's order requiring a school district to develop and implement an educational plan for a juvenile who was adjudged delinquent after the district expelled him from school. The court of appeals granted the district a writ of prohibition and vacated the circuit court order, concluding that the circuit court did not act within its authority in entering the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that (1) the school district had statutory authority to expel the student from school; (2) the circuit court did not have statutory authority to order a school district to provide alternative educational services to a juvenile who had been expelled from school by a lawful and unchallenged expulsion order but was still residing in the community; and (3) the court of appeals did not err in utilizing a supervisory writ to review the district court's order to provide appropriate educational resources in this case. View "Madison Metropolitan Sch. Dist. v. Circuit Court for Dane County" on Justia Law
Defendant, 14-years-old at the time of the offense, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and physical abuse of a child for the death of a 13-year-old. At issue was whether defendant's sentence of life imprisonment without parole was cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution and, in the alternative, whether defendant's sentence should be modified. The court affirmed the sentence, applying a two-step approach employed by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida, and held that defendant failed to demonstrate that there was a national consensus against sentencing 14-year-olds to life imprisonment without parole when the crime was intentional homicide and that, in the exercise of its own independent judgment, the punishment was not categorically unconstitutional. The court also held that defendant's sentence was not unduly harsh or excessive; that defendant had not demonstrated clear and convincing evidence that the scientific research on adolescent brain development to which he referred constituted a "new factor;" and that defendant had not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the circuit court actually relied on the religious beliefs of the victim's family when imposing defendant's sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's sentence of life imprisonment without parole.