Criminal

DEBUNKING THE VOTER FRAUD MYTH “Sensationalist claims have circulated this election season about the extent of voter fraud, with some politicians going so far as to tell voters to fear that this November’s election will be “rigged.” Because electoral integrity is one of the elements necessary to making America the greatest democracy in the world, claims like this garner media attention, and frighten and concern voters.But putting rhetoric aside to look at the facts makes clear that fraud by voters at the polls is vanishingly rare, and does not happen on a scale even close to that necessary to “rig”…
In this image by Goya, a person, asleep at his drawing table, is besieged by creatures associated in Spanish folk tradition with mystery and evil. The title of the print, emblazoned on the front of the desk, is often read as a proclamation of Goya’s adherence to the values of the Enlightenment—without Reason, evil and corruption prevail. Wisconsin is now under an order from state government to “stay at home” to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.  It is not understatement this order has restricted the lives of people in unimaginable ways.  Gov. Tony Evers issued this order after hearing…
State v. Gary R. Schumacher, 2019AP1261-CR, District 4, 5/7/20, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Schumacher was convicted of OWI with a prohibited alcohol content in connection with an accident at 8:45 p.m. His blood was drawn at 10:56 p.m., and tests showed a BAC of .171, well above his legal limit of 0.08. The sole issue on appeal was whether Schumacher’s trial counsel had adequately cross-examined Kristin Drewieck, a chemist with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene about her estimates of Schumacher’s BAC at 8:45 p.m. Drewieck calculated three different estimates for a 200 pound…
This report contextualizes discussions about early release in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It begins by outlining the actions taken in Wisconsin thus far to address the spread of the disease into and within state facilities. It then describes the authorities and duties of the governor, DOC, and individual facilities with respect to releasing prisoners to relieve overcrowding, respond to specific threats, or address the health and safety of individual inmates.
State v. Tavodess Matthews, 2019AP2142, 5/12/20, District 1 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs). Section 801.58(1) states that if a party to a civil action files a judicial substitution request “preceding the hearing of any preliminary contested matter” and not later than 60 days after service of the summons and complaint then the request must be granted.  A “preliminary contested matter” refers to a “substantive issue” going to”the merits of the case.” The court of appeals holds that a motion to adjourn a probable cause hearing  in a Chapter 980 case fits that bill. Defense counsel moved to…
State v. Jeffrey I. Quitko, 2019AP200-CR, District 3, 5/12/20 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Quitko’s motion to suppress evidence obtained following his traffic stop for speeding violation should have been granted because law enforcement lacked probable cause to request that he submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT). ¶2     …. In State v. Goss, 2011 WI 104, ¶2, 338 Wis. 2d 72, 806 N.W.2d 918, our supreme court held, under facts largely similar to those present in this case, that a law enforcement officer has probable cause to request that a driver submit…
United States v. Sineneng-Smith, USSC No. 19-67, 2020 WL 2200834, May 7, 2020, vacating and remanding 910 F.3d 461 (9th Cir. 2019); Scotusblog page (including links to briefs and commentary) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reformulated the issues Sineneng-Smith raised in district court and on an appeal of her conviction for violating a federal immigration statute, and invited three organizations to file amicus briefs and participate in further oral argument. (Slip op. at 5-7). The Supreme Court holds the Court of Appeals “departed so drastically from the principle of party presentation as to consitute an abuse…
Town of Waterford v. Christopher Pye, 2019AP737, 5/6/20, District 2 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) The court of appeals rejects the municipality’s argument that the doctrine of equitable tolling applies to the two-year statute of limitation for bringing a forfeiture action. In June 2014 Pye was cited for first-offense OWI causing injury, first-offense operating with a prohibited alcohol content, and inattentive driving. Because of the causing-injury allegation, the OWI and PAC were charged as crimes in circuit court. But under the statute in effect in at the time of the offense (and since amended), “injury”…
State v. David William Krumm, 2019AP243-CR, District 3, 5/5/20 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Under § 343.303 and County of Jefferson v. Renz, 231 Wis. 2d 293, 603 N.W.2d 541 (1999), there was probable cause to believe Krumm was operating while intoxicated, so police could request he submit to a preliminary breath test. ¶11     Renz teaches that, here, [Officer] Volz had the required degree of probable cause to request of Krumm that he submit to a PBT. The totality of circumstances illustrates that, notwithstanding Krumm’s “passing” grades on his field sobriety tests,…
State v. Ronald Eugene Provost, 2018AP1268 & 1269, 4/14/20, District 3 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) It’s unclear why this opinion is recommended for publication. Best guess is that is provides a (rather thin) gloss on the “systemic breakdown” exception to the rule that delays attributable to defense counsel don’t weigh in favor of a speedy trial violation. The court cites and adopts a statement from a New Mexico court that defense counsel’s delays represent a “systemic breakdown” only when they are caused by “problems that are both institutional in origin and debilitating in scope.” (¶40
Ladarius Marshall v. Scott Eckstein, No. 15-CV-008 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 22, 2020) Marshall pleaded to homicide and other charges. Before he did so, though, he moved to suppress statements he’d made during more than 12 hours of interrogation at the police station (he was 16 years old at the time). The trial court and our court of appeals held that the interrogating officers “scrupulously honored” Marshall’s multiple assertions that he didn’t want to talk with them anymore. The federal district court finds this conclusion unreasonable because the officers deflected his refusals to talk and cajoled him into continuing. What’s…
Courtesy of Garrett Epps, writing at The Atlantic, “A Citizen’s Guide to SCOTUS Live”: America’s typical amusements—March Madness, the NBA playoffs, Major League Baseball Opening Day, the U.S. Open, the Masters—have suddenly disappeared. Just in time, though, a new Big League debuts tomorrow [May 4], offering a welcome spectacle of bare-knuckle combat, vicious competition, taunts, and trash talk. The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return on May 9. Until then, the United States Supreme Court is the only show in town. Read the entire piece here. Over at the Gray Lady, Adam Liptak explains how “revolutionary” it is for the…
State v. Phyllis M. Schwersenska, 2018AP1619-CR, District 4, 4/30/20 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Schwersenska was convicted of embezzling money from a joint bank account she held with her daughter, H.R. The court of appeals holds trial counsel wasn’t ineffective for failing to raise the defense that, as joint owner of the account, none of the money in the account belonged solely to H.R. and so she can’t be guilty of theft from H.R. Based on testimony of H.R. and other witnesses, the state’s theory of prosecution was that most of the money deposited in the…
Wisconsin is trying to address the COVID 19 pandemic by shutting down places where the disease is most easily spread among large groups of people.  That makes sense. But what does not make sense is Wisconsin refusing to address the places where the disease is most easily spread among large groups of people.  Jails and prisons.  The deadly problem is getting worse in prisons. The number of prisoners who have tested positive for the virus grew by more than 50 percent in the past week. The first COVID-19-related death in a prison came on March 26. Since then over 215…
SOURCE: Captain Steve Brancazio Boca Raton Police Department What is a citizen who wants to follow the law to do when: Wisconsin Governor Evers issued an executive order that to contain the spread of the deadly COVID 19 disease, people should stay at home and non-essential businesses should remain closed.  Washington County Sheriff Martin Schultis has said failure to follow this order “is a criminal violation. It’s an arrestable violation.”  Kenosha County Sheriff Beth has also urged people to follow the order.  Milwaukee police are allowed to issue citations to people failing to comply with Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer at…
Langlade County v. D.J.W., 2018AP145-FT, reversing an unpublished court of appeals opinion, 4/24/20; case activity Wisconsin involuntarily commits more of its residents than any other state in the country–by a long shot. According to a report for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the annual commitment rate among states ranges from 0.23 to 43.8 per 1,000 adults with serious mental illness. The average is 9.4 per 1,000.  Wisconsin, which is ranked 20th in population size, owns the 43.8 rate. SCOW’s 4-3 decision here can begin to end Wisconsin’s fait accompli commitment hearings–but only if defense lawyers object…