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27. Errors declared harmful

How to beat the “harmless error” rap

For the 2015 SPD conference, Judge Sankovitz and Attorneys Rob Henak and Melinda Swartz prepared an excellent outline on a problem that plagues many defense lawyers on appeal.  They have a great issue. They win it, but then the court of appeals or supreme court finds the error harmless.  This detailed, well-researched outline walks you… Read More

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State v. Lonel L. Johnson, Jr., 2014AP2888-CR, District 3, 9/15/15 (not recommended for publication); case activity High fives for the defense! The domestic abuse repeater enhancer applied to this defendant increased his maximum penalty for the charged offense. Thus, the court of appeals held (and the State conceded) that the jury had to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that… Read More

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Mark D. Jensen v. Marc Clements, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 14-1380, 9/8/15, affirming Jensen v. Schwochert, No. 11-C-0803 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 18, 2013) At Jensen’s trial for the murder of his wife Julie the State introduced Julie’s handwritten letter to the police, written two weeks before her death, in which she wrote she would never… Read More

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State v. John M. Navigato, 2012AP2108-CR, District 2, 4/9/14; court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity State v. Teddy W. Bieker, 2012AP2693-CR, District 2, 4/9/14; court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity The circuit court, relying on the district attorney’s assertion of the so-called “interlocking confessions” doctrine, denied Navigato’s… Read More

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State v. Lamont L. Travis, 2013 WI 38, affirming published court of appeals decision, 2012 WI App 46, 340 Wis. 2d 639, 813 N.W.2d 702; case activity ¶9   The question of law presented to this court is whether a circuit court’s imposition of a sentence using inaccurate information that the defendant was subject to a mandatory minimum five-year period… Read More

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State v. Randy L. Martin, 2012 WI 96, reversing unpublished decision; case activity Miranda – “Custodial Interrogation”   Martin was arrested for disorderly conduct and handcuffed at the scene of an otherwise unrelated incident (¶6, id. n. 6). Search of his car yielded a gun. When an officer asked him, Martin denied ownership. The officer then prepared to arrest Henry… Read More

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State v. Anthony L. Prineas, 2012 WI App 2 (recommended for publication), reissued after initial decision withdrawn; for Prineas: Robert R. Henak; case activity; prior history: State v. Prineas, 2009 WI App 28, 316 Wis. 2d 414, 766 NW.2d 206 Evidence – Prior Inconsistent Statements  Evidence of complainant KAC’s statements made during an alleged sexual assault were… Read More

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State v. Joseph Hammer, 2010AP3019-CR, District 1, 11/22/11 court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); for Hammer: Rex Anderegg; case activity The State’s conceded discovery violation (failure to produce reports or photographs related to a trajectory rod investigation) prejudiced the defense and therefore entitles Hammer to a new trial on two counts of attempted… Read More

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