State v. Kit R. Stilwell, 2022AP1734-CR, District 2, 4/05/23 (1-judge opinion, not eligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

After summarizing an “inordinate[ly]” complicated set of facts in an otherwise simple bail jumping case, the court of appeals notes that because he failed to file a reply brief, the state’s arguments were conceded by Stilwell. Recognizing that Stilwell was unrepresented and the “obligation on the part of a court to make reasonable allowances to protect pro se litigants,” however, the court briefly addresses Stilwell’s arguments. (Opinion, ¶7).

First, in response to Stilwell’s argument that his trial was “unlawfully scheduled,” the court notes that the statute cited and relied upon by Stilwell, Wis. Stat. § 969.09, concerns conditions of release on bond and not the court’s authority to schedule jury trials. In this case, Stilwell appeared in court and was given notice of his scheduled jury trial. (¶8).

Second, Stilwell argued that the judge who presided over his trial had no “lawful jurisdiction” over his case. The court rejects this argument with citation to Wis. Stat. §§ 753.03 and 753.075, which grant circuit court’s “general jurisdiction” and authorize the appointment of “reserve judges.” (9).

Third, the court rejects Stilwell’s speedy trial claim noting that he was responsible for “most, if not all” of the substantial delay between his initial appearance and his eventual trial. (¶¶10-11).

Fourth, the court rejects Stilwell’s argument that he was unlawfully “charged” via a citation instead of criminal complaint and notes that, according to the state, the Stilwell’s argument may be based on a misunderstanding of pre-trial plea negotiations that failed to resolve the case. (¶12).

Fifth and finally, the court rejects Stilwell’s argument that because he refused to sign his bond form, but was mistakenly released from custody on bond, that the no-contact condition was invalid. The court rejects the argument and affirms the jury’s verdicts that were based on his violation of the no-contact provision of his bond. (¶13).

This last claim is somewhat reminiscent of State v. Friedlander, 2019 WI 22, 385 Wis. 2d 633, 923 N.W.2d 849, where the court overruled a line of court of appeals’ cases that had granted sentence credit for time spent “at liberty.” But, whereas the Friedlander court held the defendant’s erroneous release from custody meant that he was not subject to an escape charge, and thus not entitled to sentence credit, Stilwell’s erroneous release from custody on bond permitted him to be charged and convicted of bail jumping. As the court briefly notes, however, because Stilwell posted the cash required by the bond, he  was thereafter subject the the conditions of his release despite not signing the bond form.