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Guilty Pleas – Post-Sentencing Plea Withdrawal: Suppression of Material Exculpatory Impeachment Evidence – Constitutional Basis

State v. Kevin Harris, 2004 WI 64, affirming as modified 2003 WI App 144, 266 Wis. 2d 200, 667 N.W.2d 813
For Harris: Steven A. Koch

Issue/Holding:

¶16 Therefore, the court of appeals in the instant case misstated the law when it held that “the State violates the Constitution if it withholds the type of information that could form the basis for further investigation by the defense[,]” and that a constitutional violation occurs when the State refuses to disclose “potentially exculpatory” evidence. Harris, 266 Wis. 2d 200, ¶36. …¶17 Harris claims that the State violated his constitutional right to Brady evidence by failing to disclose, before he entered his plea, that B.M.M. alleged that her grandfather had assaulted her. Therefore, Harris asserts that he is entitled to withdraw his plea under Sturgeon. We determine, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Ruiz, that due process does not require the disclosure of material exculpatory impeachment information before a defendant enters into a plea bargain. …

¶23 … We therefore hold, based on the United States Supreme Court decision in Ruiz, that due process does not require the disclosure of material exculpatory impeachment information before a defendant enters into a plea bargain.15


15 The State asks us to go one step further and overrule the court of appeals’ decision in State v. Sturgeon, 231 Wis. 2d 487, 605 N.W.2d 589 (Ct. App. 1999). We decline to do so. Today’s decision is limited to the scope of material exculpatory impeachment evidence. We do not determine whether due process requires the disclosure of purely exculpatory information prior to a plea bargain.

 

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