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Allocution – Generally

State v. James C. Lindsey, 203 Wis. 2d 423, 554 N.W.2d 215 (Ct. App. 1996)
For Lindsey: Park M. Drescher

Issue/Holding:

It is undisputed that the trial court at the sentencing hearing erred when it did not afford Lindsey the right of allocution provided by § 972.14(2), Stats. …First, we conclude that because § 972.14(2), Stats., clearly establishes a statutory right of allocution and because the trial court did not follow the mandate of § 972.14(2), the trial court committed a statutory error. Second, we observe that the United States Supreme Court has held there is no federal constitutional right to allocution. See Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962). However, because of conflicting case law in Wisconsin, it is unclear whether there is a due process right to allocution under the Wisconsin Constitution.15 We decline to resolve the conflicting case law on this issue because we conclude that even if there is a due process right to allocution, the trial court’s constitutional error denying that right was harmless.

… Because Lindsey was subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole, there is no possibility that anything Lindsey could have said at sentencing would have affected his sentence. Thus, there is no reasonable possibility that the trial court’s failure to ask Lindsey if he wanted to speak contributed to Lindsey’s sentence. …

 

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