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Court of appeals orders trial court to explain its restitution decision (again)

State v. Thomas G. Felski, 2013AP1796-CR, District 2, 1/29/14; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity

For a second time the court of appeals reverses a restitution order and remands the case for the circuit court to explain how it arrived at the restitution figure.

Felski was convicted of performing home improvement services without a contract. In his first appeal, the court of appeals upheld the determination that Felski was liable for restitution, but remanded for the circuit court to recalculate the amount of restitution because the trial court’s figure appeared to be based on a mathematical error and may have failed to take account of construction materials the victims purchased directly. (¶1). On remand, the trial court revised the restitution amount. (¶2).

Felski appealed again, arguing he should owe nothing based on the value of the work he completed. That value depends on whether the cost of the materials was included or whether the victims paid directly for all the material, in which case the costs would not be owed by Felski because the victims retained the benefit. (¶3). “The trouble is, the circuit court’s opinion still does not explain how it factored in the cost of materials paid for by the [victims],” and that uncertainty in the court’s rationale compels the court of appeals to remand once again for the circuit court to explain how it included or excluded materials costs and why. (¶5).

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