On Point

Latest from On Point

State v. David M. Hay, 2018AP2240, 5/27/20, District 2 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Hay was pulled over in the early morning and blew a .32 on the PBT. He had several drunk-driving priors, so it would be illegal for him to drive with a BAC over .02. The officer never sought a warrant; instead he searched the car (though another officer on-scene could have done that), waited for another officer to show up to “sit” with the vehicle until a tow truck came, then headed to the hospital with Hay. Only then–about an hour after the…
State v. Courtney C. Brown, 2020 WI 62, 7/3/20, affirming a published court of appeals opinion, 2017AP774-CR, case activity (including briefs) “Supreme Court affirms wide discretion in traffic stops; dissent says implicit bias will go unchecked” That’s the JSOnline’s pithy description of SCOW’s 5-1 decision in this case. Also noteworthy, Justice R.G. Bradley filed a strident, bias-denying concurring opinion suggesting that court of appeals Judge Reilly should be disciplined for writing a strident, bias-acknowledging concurrence that dared to criticize two recent 4th Amendment decisions from SCOW. An officer stopped Brown because he failed to come to a complete…
Looking for a bit of law-related entertainment this holiday weekend? Then take a listen to this episode from the podcast series The Last Archive, featuring historian Jill Lepore. It’s about the origin of the Frye test. And how that may have led to Wonder Woman. No kidding. Lepore has also written about Clarence Darrow, among many other things, in a book review which begins with events in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that led to his appearance in Winnebago County Circuit Court. No kidding! Happy Fourth of July.…
On June 24, 2020, the court of appeals ordered publication of the following criminal law related cases: State v. Tavodess Matthews, 2020 WI App 33 (motion to adjourn a probable cause hearing is a “preliminary contested matter” under judicial substitution statute) State v. Adam W. Vice, 2020 WI App 34 (confession given after polygraph ordered suppressed) State v. David M. Hay, 2020 WI App 35 (warrantless blood draw was unlawful; state failed to prove exigent circumstances) State v. Troy R. Lasecki, 2020 WI App 36 (jury instruction and restitution errors lead to reversal in case against…
State v. Dawn J. Levanduski, 2019AP1144-CR, 7/1/20, District 2 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) This published decision resolves an issue arguably left open by Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S. Ct. 2160 (2016).  The court of appeals holds that when an officer reads Wisconsin’s “Informing the Accused” form to an OWI suspect, and she refuses a blood draw, her refusal can be used against her at her OWI trial. Section 343.305 is Wisconsin’s implied consent law. Section 343.305(3)(a) says that upon arrest for a violation of §346.63(1) an officer can ask the person to provide a…
The percentage of opinions that the court of appeals publishes is going down, down, down. That’s the subject of SCOWstats new post. One might suppose that the rule change allowing the citation of unpublished opinions is to blame, but the data does not support that conclusion. What’s really surprising is that SCOW publishes more opinions than the court of appeals. Does the court of appeals lacks confidence in the guidance it has to offer the bench, the bar, and litigants?…
OLR v. Kovac, 2020 WI 58, 6/23/2020, per curiam; case activity  “Attorney Kovac’s habit of procrastination and dilatory practices continue,” says SCOW. So it has again suspended his license to practice law in Wisconsin for 5 months, concurrent to another 5-month suspension. Plus he must pay the full costs of his OLR proceeding. In one case, Kovac failed to respond to successor counsel’s requests for the client file and failed to file a timely response to a client’s grievance. In another, he failed provide the client with his file after the termination of presentation, failed to respond to a…
Miller v. Carroll, 2020 WI 56, 6/16/20, affirming a published court of appeals opinion, 2017AP2132, case activity (including briefs) You’ve surely read about this case in NY Times, the Journal Sentinel, on Wisbar.org or on On Point here or here. A judge’s Facebook friendship with one of the litigants in a child custody case before him created a serious risk of actual bias and resulted in a due process violation. Justice A.W. Bradley filed an interesting concurrence arguing that this decision is at odds with  State v. Henley, 2011 WI 67, 338 Wis. 2d…
County of Milwaukee v. Christann Spannraft, 2018AP1553 & 1554, 6/23/20, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including respondent’s brief) This is a pro se appeal of an OWI-1st conviction. Spannraft raises three claims, all of which are rejected. First, she says the court should have letter introduce evidence about the arresting officer’s administration of the roadside PBT – just not its “results,” which are barred  for any purpose other than showing probable cause by Wis. Stat. § 343.303. The court of appeals agrees with Spanncraft that the evidentiary prohibition is narrow, but it says the…
State v. Chad W. Kessler, 2019AP524, 6/23/20, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Kessler went to trial on several counts, the most serious of which was burglary. Five days before trial was to begin, he asked to represent himself with his prior counsel as standby. The court granted the request after a hearing. Kessler represented himself for one day of the trial before giving the reins back to his attorney. Postconviction, he asserts that the court’s colloquy on self-representation was inadequate because it should have delved deeper into mental health concerns. He also claims he…
State v. Russell L. Wilson, 2019AP49, 6/23/20, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Wilson was charged with repeated second-degree sexual assault of a child under Wis. Stats. §§ 948.02(2) and 948.025(1)(e). That’s a Class C felony carrying a max of 25 in and 15 out. But the state alleged that he also qualified for the repeater enhancer in Wis. Stat. § 939.618(2)(b). That would change the max to life without the possibility of parole or ES. Everybody–Wilson, his lawyer, and the judge–apparently believed the repeater applied, but, after Wilson pleaded and was sentenced,…
State v. Alfonso Lorenzo Brooks, 2020 WI 60, 6/25/20, reversing a per curiam court of appeals decision, 2018AP1774, case activity (including briefs) The police stopped Brooks for speeding in Milwaukee. Specifically, they pulled him over to the side of a residential/commercial road. The police quickly learned Brooks had a suspended license and was a convicted felon. They wrote him tickets for the speeding and operating on a suspended license. Brooks wasn’t arrested then, but he couldn’t drive away either, on account of the license issue. So, police told him, they were towing his car to impound–even though he…
State v. Dawn M. Prado, 2016AP308, 6/25/20, District 4 (recommended for publication) case activity (including briefs) They must have gotten tired of waiting. After SCOW failed (or refused) to decide the question in Howes, Brar, Mitchell, and Hawley, and SCOTUS likewise punted in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, the court of appeals now does what those higher courts could or would not: it rules on the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. § 343.305‘s provisions that permit police to withdraw blood from an incapacitated or unconscious motorist on the theory that they’ve “consented” to this by driving.…
State v. Mark D. Jensen, 2018AP1952, petition for review of a summary court of appeals order granted 6/16/20; case activity Usually we do to the issues presented first. Here, they’re pretty insubstantial, so let’s just say what’s going on: the supreme court has intervened to (potentially) save a manifestly unconstitutional (and you don’t have to take our word for it) homicide conviction and life sentence in a notorious case. We’ve discussed the underlying facts and circuitous appellate history of this case elsewhere, and we won’t repeat them here. But to understand the questions SCOW has now elected to…
State v. Nathaniel Lee Mattson, 2019AP201-CR, 6/16/20, District 3 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Mattson pled guilty to domestic battery and disorderly conduct and moved to withdraw his pleas after sentencing. Argued that he did not realize that the decision as to whether accept a plea or go to trial was exclusively his. And during the colloquy the circuit court did not inform him of that fact. There are two ways to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing. One is to allege a defect in the plea colloquy under  State v. Bangert, 131 Wis.…