On Point

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State v. Chad W. Kessler, 2019AP524, 6/23/20, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Kessler went to trial on several counts, the most serious of which was burglary.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State v. Russell L. Wilson, 2019AP49, 6/23/20, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Wilson was charged with repeated second-degree sexual assault of a child under Wis.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.…
Winnebago County v. S.H., 2019AP2277-FT, 6/17/20, District 2 (recommended for publication); case activity The court of appeals rarely publishes opinions in “fast track” cases. It took that unusual step here. The opinion strives to show the type of evidence that is sufficient for a recommitment even though the mentally ill person has taken all of her medication and has maintained stable housing and employment for two years. Dr. Vicente, the only witness at Sarah’s recommitment hearing, diagnosed her with schizophrenia and opined that if treatment were withdrawn she would become the proper subject of commitment. He did so based…
Fond du Lac v. S.N.W., 2019AP2073, 6/17/20, District 2 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity We detect the unmistakable odor of SCOW bait. One of two court appointed medical experts failed to submit his examiner’s report within 48 hours before the final hearing for an original commitment of a prisoner. S.N.W. argued that this violation deprived the circuit court of competence to adjudicate the case. Alternatively, if the court retained competency, the report had to be excluded. The court of appeals disagreed. Who needs expert reports 48 before trial? Not defense lawyers striving to defend their clients’s rights.…
State v. K.L.G., 2019AP658, District 1, 6/16/20 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity What a bummer. K.L.G. moved to suppress an officer’s identification of him made after she looked up his booking photo from a previous incidence. The circuit court granted the motion and dismissed. The State appealed, and the court of appeals reverses. The trial court granted suppression based on State v. Dubose, 2005 WI 126, ¶2, 285 Wis. 2d 143, 699 N.W.2d 582, which held that “a show up will not be admissible unless, based on the totality of the circumstances, the show up was…
State v. Alfonzo C. Loayza, 2018AP2066-CR, petition for review of a per curiam opinion granted 6/16/20; case activity Issue (from the State’s petition for review): It is well established that a DOT record is competent proof of a defendant’s prior conviction and can therefore be used to enhance the defendant’s sentence. It is also  well established  that a defendant may challenge the existence of a  conviction listed on a DOT record. But currently, there is no accepted procedure for how a defendant should challenge the existence of a conviction listed in a DOT record and what burden he…
State v. Michelle Greenwood, 2019AP248, 6/9/20, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication) case activity (including briefs) Greenwood was pulled over for going 81 when the speed limit was 70. The officer testified her eyes were glassy and bloodshot and that her pupils were quite dilated, and did not constrict quickly when he shined his flashlight on them. Per the court of appeals, this was good enough to continue to detain her after the speeding was addressed in order to investigate suspected marijuana intoxication. The parties disagreed about just when the stop was extended past its original purpose, such…
State ex rel. Milton Eugene Warren v. Michael Meisner, 2020 WI 55, 6/11/20, reversing and remanding an unpublished order of the court of appeals, 2019AP567; case activity (including briefs) Seven years ago, the supreme court decided State v. Starks, 2013 WI 69, 349 Wis. 2d 274, 833 N.W.2d 146. That opinion contained a couple of erroneous statements about the procedure for raising claims that postconviction counsel was ineffective. Both parties moved for reconsideration of these statements, which the court inexplicably denied more than a year later. Now with this decision, the court unanimously cleans up the misstatements in…
Due to COVID-19 courts have been considering large scale prison releases, but usually only for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. Are fears of violent crime recidivism warranted? What does it say about our justice system when we release some inmates but leave others is prisons with large COVID outbreaks? If you’re working on a motion for release this new study published in the Notre Dame Law Review my be helpful.
A group of researchers wanted to find out whether, using brain-imaging technology and AI, they could examine human brain activities and distinguish between an intentional and a reckless state of mind. Given that criminal law punishes defendants more harshly for acting with intent, it’s a good thing the answered turned out to be “yes.” The paper will be published soon in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, but you can read it here.
State v. Duanne D. Townsend, 2019AP787, 6/9/20, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Good news: the court of appeals reversed a circuit court decision denying Townsend’s §974.06 motion without a hearing. Townsend now gets a one on his claims for ineffective assistance of postconviction and trial counsel. Bad news: the court of appeals botched the issue of whether Townsend was denied his 6th Amendment right to determine his own defense under McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S Ct. 1500 (2018). As noted in our post on McCoy, SCOW needs to square that decision with Wisconsin…