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Court of appeals finds factual basis for plea to contempt

State v. Kody K. Johnson, 2019AP1058-CR, District 4, 1/9/19, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Johnson accepted a negotiated disposition of 3 contempt charges stemming from his interference with child custody. He then moved to withdraw his plea arguing that the charges had no factual basis and were multiplicitous.

At the plea hearing, defense counsel said that “the amended charges were based on Johnson’s “intentional disobedience, resistance, or obstruction” of an order issued in the paternity case, and that Johnson would be charged with one count of contempt for his conduct on March 1, a second count for March 2, and a third count for March 3.” Opinion, ¶6. In addition, at the preliminary hearing an officer testified she had spoken to Johnson by phone, told him that he had no right to custody, and directed him to return the child.

The court of appeals found that defense counsel’s statements, bolstered by the officer’s testimony, provided the requisite factual basis for the plea. Opinion, ¶14. See State v. Black, 2001 WI 31, ¶11, 242 Wis. 2d 126, 624 N.W.2d 363 (“In conducting this inquiry into whether there is a factual basis for the offense, the trial court may consider … testimony of police officers, the preliminary examination record and other records in the case.”)

The court of appeals declined to address whether the 3 contempt charges were multiplicituous on the grounds that Johnson’s argument was undeveloped. See State v. Pettit, 171 Wis. 2d 627, 646-47, 492 N.W.2d 633 (Ct. App. 1992) . Opinion, ¶20.

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