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Deferred Prosecution Agreement – Standard of Review

State v. Chase E. Kaczmarski, 2009 WI App 117
For Kaczmarski: Harold L. Harlowe, David M. Gorwitz

Issue/Holding:

¶10      Both the State and Kaczmarski agree that the deferred prosecution agreement is analogous to a contract and therefore we draw upon principles of contract law in determining the respective rights of the parties to the agreement. See State v. Roou, 2007 WI App 193, ¶25, 305 Wis. 2d 164, 738 N.W.2d 173 (applying contract-law principles in the context of a plea agreement). The interpretation of a written contract is a question of law subject to de novo review. State v. Toliver, 187 Wis. 2d 346, 355, 523 N.W.2d 113 (Ct. App. 1994). “[W]hen terms of a contract are plain and unambiguous, we will construe the contract as it stands.” Id. A contract is ambiguous only when it is “‘reasonably or fairly susceptible of more than one construction.’” State v. Windom, 169 Wis. 2d 341, 349, 485 N.W.2d 832 (Ct. App. 1992) (quoting Borchardt v. Wilk, 156 Wis.  2d 420, 427, 456 N.W.2d 653 (Ct. App. 1990)). Whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law we decide de novo. Id. We may not construe a contract “to revise an unambiguous contract in order to relieve a party to a contract ‘from any disadvantageous terms’ to which he or she has agreed.” Id. (quoting Dykstra v. Arthur G. McKee & Co., 92 Wis. 2d 17, 38, 284 N.W.2d 692 (Ct. App. 1979)). We construe ambiguous language in a contract against the drafter. Walters v. National Props., LLC, 2005 WI 87, ¶14, 282 Wis. 2d 176, 699 N.W.2d 71.

 

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