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Rock County v. R.J., 2020AP93, 8/13/20, District 4 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

Thank heavens this opinion is not published. R.J’s initial commitment expired before he filed his notice of appeal. According to the court of appeals, R.J. should have sue sponte addressed mootness in his initial brief–before the County ever argued the point. Because R.J. waited to see whether the County would even raise mootness and then addressed the matter in his reply, the court of appeals dismissed his appeal. The court of appeals also made an error of law regarding the “contemporaneous objection” requirement.  Hopefully, R.J. will move for reconsideration or petition for review. Read more

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State  v. Catherine Cuskey Large, 2019AP1966-CR, 8/13/20, District 4 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication; case activity (including briefs)

The court of appeals correctly affirmed the circuit court’s decision to suppress OWI evidence in this case, where an officer admitted that the New Glarus Police Department’s “protocol” was to administer PBTs on motorists whether they had probable cause for OWI or not. But court of appeals did so by taking a heavy-handed approach to waiver, a rule of administration that appellate courts have the discretion to apply or not. Read more

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July 2020 publication list

On July 29, 2020, the court of appeals ordered publication of the following criminal law related cases:

State v. Dawn M. Prado, 2020 WI App 42 (striking down implied consent law for unconscious drivers)

State v. Mark J. Bucki, 2020 WI App 43 (dog sniff evidence need not be corroborated to be admissible)

Winnebago County v. S.H., 2020 WI App 46 (addressing sufficiency of evidence for ch. 51 recommitment hearings)

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State v. William Francis Kuehn, 2018AP2355, 7/28/20, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Kuehn pleaded to 5 counts of possession of child pornography; 10 more were dismissed and read-in. The court of appeals rejects Kuehn’s three challenges to his conviction and sentence. It holds trial counsel wasn’t deficient in deciding a third-party-perpetrator (Denny) defense wasn’t viable at trial. It says the circuit court properly assessed the $500 per-image surcharge for the 10 images that made up the read-ins. And, it finds not overbroad the circuit court’s imposition of an ES condition that Kuehn have no contact with his girlfriend. Read more

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State v. Christopher J. Vaaler, 2019AP2174, 8/6/20, District 4 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

An officer pulled Vaaler over in the very early morning for not having his headlights on. Per the court of appeals, Vaaler’s unusual manner of speech, the odor of intoxicants, and the fact of an open beer next to him were enough for the officer to conduct the OWI investigation that ultimately led to Vaaler’s arrest and conviction: Read more

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Michael Gilbreath v. Dan Winkleski, Case No. 19-cv-728-jdp (W.D. Wis. Aug. 4, 2020)

Witness credibility was the key issue at Gilbreath’s trial, and his counsel’s failure to present evidence that would have undermined [the complaining witness’s] credibility and bolstered Gilbreath’s defense deprived Gilbreath of a fair trial. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals unreasonably concluded that the failure to present the credibility evidence was a matter of reasonable trial strategy and that the evidence was merely cumulative. Gilbreath is entitled to habeas relief.

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Danny Wilber v. Michael Thurmer, Case No. 10-C-179 (E.D. Wis., Aug. 4, 2020).

It’s said that defendants having meritorious postconviction claims are more likely to win relief on a habeas petition in federal court than on direct appeal in Wisconsin’s appellate courts. This decision could be a poster child for that theory.  On Point last reported on Danny Wilber’s case in 2018 when the court of appeals rejected seven §974.06 claims and affirmed his conviction for 1st degree homicide. Judge Griesbach just granted Wilber’s habeas petition and ordered a new trial. Read more

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State v. Brian Anthony Taylor, 2019AP1770-CR,  District 1, 7/28/20 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

What a frustrating decision. Taylor filed a pre-sentencing motion to withdraw his plea for repeated sexual assault of a child, but the circuit court denied it applying the more stringent post-sentencing plea withdrawal standard. “No problem,” says the court of appeals, “we’ll apply the correct standard for you and affirm.” Read more

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