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Applying the teachings of Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 473 (1980), the Supreme Court held that the law enforcement officers in this case lawfully entered Defendant’s residence to execute two valid warrants for Defendant’s arrest and lawfully seized evidence discovered in the search incident to Defendant’s arrest. Defendant was convicted of obstructing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that his arrest and the subsequent search were unconstitutional. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the hot pursuit doctrine allowed the lawful enforcement officers to follow Defendant from his driveway into his home to effectuate his arrest. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) because this case is governed by Payton, the applicability of the hot pursuit doctrine need not be addressed; and (2) applying Payton to the undisputed facts of this case, the police officers’ entry into Defendant’s home to execute two valid warrants for Defendant’s arrest was constitutionally permissible. View "State v. Delap" on Justia Law

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The short-term rentals of Defendants’ property did not constitute “commercial activity” under the restrictive covenant that encumbered its property. Defendants purchased property in a subdivision and began renting it to vacationers on both short-term and long-term bases. Several neighboring property owners brought suit, claiming that a restrictive covenant that encumbered all lots in the subdivision precluded short-term rentals of property. The circuit court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs and enjoined Defendants from further short-term rentals. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the term “commercial activity” in the restrictive covenant is ambiguous; and (2) as narrowly interpreted by the Court, the term “commercial activity” does not prelude either short-term or long-term rentals of Defendants’ property. View "Forshee v. Neuschwander" on Justia Law

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A wine grantor-dealer relationship is not included within the definition of a dealership in Wis. Stat. 135.02(3)(b). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit certified to the Supreme Court the question answered above in order to determine whether Winebow, Inc.’s attempt to end its business relationship with two wine distributors was governed by the unilateral termination limitations of the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL), Wis. Stat. 135.03. Winebow argued that its unilateral termination of its relationship with the distributors was permissible because the parties’ business relationship was not an “intoxicating liquor” dealership entitled to the protections of the WFDL. The Supreme Court held that the operative definition of “intoxicating liquor” for purposes of Wis. Stat. ch. 135 explicitly excludes wine, and therefore, a wine grantor-dealer relationship is not included within the definition of a dealership in section 135.02(3)(b). View "Winebow, Inc. v. Capitol-Husting Co., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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At issue was whether the Building Permit Rule (Rule) extended to land identified in a building permit application as part of a project upon which no actual construction was planned. Golden Sands Diary, LLC obtained a building permit for seven farm structures. Its building permit application identified the building site as 100 acres and its total acreage as 6,388 acres, on which it sought to operate a farm. After Golden Sands filed its building permit application, the Town of Saratoga enacted a zoning ordinance seeking to prohibit agricultural uses such as those proposed by Golden Sands. Golden Sands argued that the Rule extended to all the land identified in its building permit application, and therefore, it had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. The circuit court concluded that the Rule extends to all land identified in a building permit application. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Rule applies only to building structures and not to use of land. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Rule extends to all land specifically identified in a building permit application; and (2) therefore, Golden Sands had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. View "Golden Sands Dairy LLC v. Town of Saratoga" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding that the mandatory $250 DNA surcharge the circuit court ordered Defendant to pay violated the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions and affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling that the circuit court did not rely on an improper factor when it sentenced Defendant. Defendant was convicted of felony murder and felon in possession of a firearm. The circuit court imposed the mandatory DNA surcharge under the DNA surcharge statute, Wis. Stat. 973.046, and sentenced Defendant to a period of initial confinement of ten years and extended supervision of seven and a half years. The court of appeals upheld Defendant’s sentence but reversed on the DNA charge, concluding that the circuit court should have applied the discretionary DNA surcharge statute in effect when Defendant committed his crime rather than the mandatory DNA surcharge statute in effect when Defendant was sentenced. The Supreme Court (1) reinstated the $250 surcharge as part of Defendant’s judgment, holding that the mandatory DNA surcharge statute is not an ex post facto law because the surcharge is not punishment under the intent-effects test; and (2) affirmed Defendant’s sentence. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When a foreclosure action brought on a borrower’s default on a note has been dismissed with prejudice, and the lender has not validly accelerated payment of the amount due under the note, claim preclusion does not bar the lender from bringing a subsequent foreclosure action based upon the borrower’s continuing default on the same note. After Borrower defaulted on a note, Lender filed suit seeking to foreclose on the property securing the note. The circuit court determined that Lender failed to present sufficient evidence to prevail in its foreclosure action and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice. Later, Bank, the entity servicing Borrower's loan, sent Borrower a notice of intent to accelerate payment of the note. Borrower did not cure his default, and Bank filed a complaint initiating the instant lawsuit. Borrower moved to dismiss, arguing that the lawsuit was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. The circuit court did not apply claim preclusion to any default alleged to have occurred after judgment was entered in the earlier lawsuit. The Supreme Court affirmed this conclusion, holding that claim preclusion did not bar the second lawsuit because the lawsuit alleged new facts giving rise to a new and subsequent default and a different transaction than that presented in the first foreclosure action. View "Federal National Mortgage Ass’n v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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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

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The intent-effects test is the proper test used to determine whether a sanction is “punishment” such that due process requires a defendant be informed of it before entering a plea of guilty. In the instant case, the circuit court failed to inform Defendant that his plea of guilty to second-degree sexual assault would subject him to lifetime GPS tracking pursuant to Wis. Stat. 301.48. The circuit court concluded that lifetime GPS tracking is not punishment and therefore denied Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea. Applying the intent-effects test to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the intent nor effect of lifetime GPS tracking is punitive. View "State v. Muldrow" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court ruling that Defendant’s trial counsel’s failure to object to an exhibit sent to the jury during deliberations constituted ineffective assistance with respect to only one of the six counts for which Defendant was convicted. On appeal, Defendant argued that all six of his convictions should be vacated due to his trial counsel’s deficient performance and that the State forfeited its right to argue the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test at his Machner hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) circuit courts reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel following multiple-count trials may conclude that deficient performance prejudiced only one of the multiple convictions; and (2) the State did not forfeit its right to challenge the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test when it did not petition the Supreme Court for review following the court of appeals’ original decision remanding for a Machner hearing. View "State v. Sholar" on Justia Law

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At issue was the rule that the company that purchases the assets of another is not responsible for the latter’s liabilities and the rule’s common-law exception when the parties use the transaction to fraudulently escape responsibility for those liabilities. Plaintiff, whose husband died from mesothelioma, sued Fire Brick Engineers Co. and Powers Holdings, Inc. alleging they were negligent in manufacturing or distributing the asbestos products to which Plaintiff’s husband was exposed. The complaint identified Powers Holdings as the successor to Fire Brick. Powers asserted that Plaintiff brought the action against the wrong entity because Powers was not liable for the torts of its predecessor corporations. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Powers. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a determination of whether Powers should be held responsible for the liabilities of its predecessor company, concluding that the question of whether a transfer transaction was entered into fraudulent must be answered in the context of Wisconsin’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Powers was entitled to summary judgment because the Act does not govern the “fraudulent transaction” exception to the rule of successor non-liability. View "Springer v. Nohl Electric Products Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury