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Allocution, Victim’s – Prohibiting Defendant from Looking at Victim

State v. Lawrence Payette, 2008 WI App 106, PFR filed 6/30/08
For Payette: Robert R. Henak; Amelia L. Bizzaro

Issue/Holding:

¶51      The trial court, having just heard a lengthy description of Payette’s violent and abusive conduct toward RS, directed that Payette not look at his victim during her statement to the court, because, the trial court said, “I just don’t want him intimidating her. We just asked him to turn around.” Payette claims that this order deprived him of his statutory (Wis. Stat. § 971.04 [15]) and due process right to be present at his sentencing, and he is, therefore, entitled to resentencing.

¶59      A trial court has considerable latitude in reasonable control of the courtroom and the conduct of parties and of witnesses before it. Wis. Stat. § 906.11(1); State v. Shanks, 2002 WI App 93, ¶10, 253 Wis. 2d 600, 644 N.W.2d 275 (“trial court has the power to alter courtroom procedures in order to protect the emotional well-being of a child witness”). We conclude that the limited restriction imposed here, based on the facts known to the trial court at the time, was a reasonable exercise of the trial court’s discretion to control the manner of proceedings before it. Neither Payette’s statutory nor constitutional rights were violated by this minor restriction during a small part of the sentencing hearing, nor has he demonstrated that he was in any articulable way prejudiced by it.

 

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