Can a defendant knowingly and intelligently plead guilty to a charge that requires proof of intent to do “X” if the defendant does not know what “X” is? The majority answers “yes.” Justice Abrahamson (joined by A.W. Bradley) answers “no.” Kurt Vonnegut fans will Shirley enjoy the dissent. 🙂 Read more
Suppose you confessed to attempted homicide while sitting in a police station interrogation room with 2 officers who are positioned between you and the exit. Would you feel free to leave? The majority says a reasonable person would. The dissent by A.W. Bradley (joined by Abrahamson) says a reasonable person would not. Read more
Now you can! Check out the SCOTUS Notes crowdsourcing project sponsored by the University of Minnesota:
In this project, members of the public transcribe handwritten notes from U.S. Supreme Court justices. Unlike members of Congress, justices cast their votes in complete privacy during weekly conference meetings. Only justices are allowed in the Chief Justice’s conference room when they discuss, deliberate, and make initial decisions on cases that focus on some of the nation’s most pressing legal issues. The only record of what has been said, and by whom, is provided by the handwritten personal notes the justices themselves take during conference. These crucial documents detail the discussions and debates that took place in thousands of cases spanning multiple decades.
This opinion recounts in detail MacArthur’s controlling, violent behavior toward K.W., the victim in this case, and toward 4 of his previous girlfriends. The lead issues are (1) whether McArthur’s conduct toward the previous girlfriends was admissible as “other acts” evidence, and (2) whether trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting when, during the jury trial, a detective read K.W.’s statement which described MacArthur’s “relationship rules” and his escalating violence toward her. The court of appeals answers both questions “no.” Read more
Vang argued that his trial was ineffective in failing to object to (1) a police officer’s hearsay testimony about the victim’s statements to him; (2) his own testimony on direct about participating in an illegal street race for money; and (3) the State’s question about the local Fox News station mentioning him on a segment called “Wisconsin’s Most Wanted.” The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s decision to deny Vang a Machner hearing on the first 2 claims for failure to show prejudice and on the third claim for failure to show deficient performance. Read more
Williams, a prison inmate, objected to DOC deducting funds from his prison account to pay the restitution ordered in his criminal case. He asked the sentencing judge to order DOC to stop but the sentencing judge declined. The court of appeals affirms, holding the sentencing court isn’t competent to address that issue. Instead, Williams has to exhaust his administrative remedies using the inmate complaint review system (ICRS) and, if that fails, he can bring a certiorari action in circuit court. Read more
Coker was charged with OWI after police stopped her car because other drivers called police to report an erratic driver. The court of appeals rejects her claim that the information from the callers wasn’t sufficiently reliable because it was offered anonymously and wasn’t corroborated by the arresting officer’s observations. Read more
The Nation has published a long essay digging into an almost 30-year-old case from Colorado that reveals the problems with some forensic sciences. “What we found was a startling lack of scientific support for forensic pattern-matching techniques such as toolmark analysis; a legal system that has failed to separate nonsense from science even in capital cases; and a consensus among prosecutors all the way up to the attorney general’s office that scientifically dubious forensic techniques should be not only protected, but expanded.” For more, see here.