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COA upholds decision to make juvenile register as sex offender

State v. D.I.G., 2019AP855, 2/5/2020, District 2 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

The juvenile here was found delinquent for sexual contact with his younger sister. He moved the court for a stay of registration under State v. Cesar G., 2004 WI 61, 272 Wis. 2d 22, 682 N.W.2d 1. The court declined to stay registration, disagreeing with the expert assessment the juvenile presented. As you might expect, the court of appeals affirms this discretionary decision.

The juvenile argues the court erred in three ways because its decision was in conflict with the psychologist’s “(1) assessment that there was ‘no evidence [he] has any atypical persistent sexual interest,’ (2) risk assessment finding [him] at a sexual offense risk of under 3%, and (3) professional opinion that [he] was not an appropriate candidate for the sex offender registry.” (¶8).

The opinion is mostly concerned with factual nuances, and easily sustains the trial court’s conclusions. It’s well within the norm of judicial decision-making and appellate review. But it’s galling (if familiar to ch. 980 practitioners) that faced with statistical evidence of (low) risk–the same sort of evidence we use to lock people up, sometimes for life, in this state–the circuit court identifies a seemingly random fact about the juvenile’s offense (that it involved a half-sibling) and declares the statistical evidence meaningless. (¶13).

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