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§ 904.04, Construction — General

State v. Gregory J. Franklin, 2004 WI 38, affirming unpublished decision of court of appeals
For Franklin: Patrick M. Donnelly, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding:

¶11. Wisconsin Stat. § 904.04(2) evidence may be offered in a criminal trial or a civil suit. State v. Sullivan, 216 Wis. 2d 768, 783, 576 N.W.2d 30 (1998) and Daniel B. Blinka, Evidence of Character, Habit and “Similar Acts” in Wisconsin Civil Litigation, 73 Marq. L.Rev. 283, 289 (1989). It has been offered to prove the character of a person: (1) for the impermissible purpose of implying that the person committed a disputed past act6 that is consistent with his or her character, or (2) for a permissible purpose, such as showing the person acted with a plan, motive, absence of mistake.7 Its use is carefully regulated when the other acts are “bad acts” because the admission of such evidence may imply that the defendant is a bad person. Whitty v. State, 34 Wis. 2d 278, 292-97, 154 N.W.2d 557 (1967). As we said inWhitty, when other acts evidence is admitted, there can be “an overstrong tendency” to believe that a defendant is guilty of the crime charged simply because he or she is the kind of person who is likely to act a certain way, or that the defendant should be punished now, not necessarily for the crime charged, but because the defendant may have escaped punishment for a previous offense. Id. at 292.

For authority to the effect that “the supreme court [has] moved directly to an analysis of the legislative intent by looking to resources traditionally reserved for ambiguous statutes.” Courtney F. v. Ramiro M.C., 2004 WI App 36, ¶14.

 

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