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It doesn’t take much to explain a sentencing decision

State v. Steven Ray Gaddis, 2015AP130-CR, District 1, 7/28/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Even the sentencing judge admitted his sentencing explanation “could have been more extensive” (¶10). But, hey, it was good enough for government work.

¶9     The sentencing transcript here shows that the trial court complied with the law. It considered Gaddis’ character, as exemplified by his “horrible” record. See [State v.] Harris, [2010 WI 79,] 326 Wis. 2d 685, ¶28[, 786 N.W.2d 409]. The trial court considered both the severity of the crime and the need to protect the public by referencing Gaddis’[s] displaying of the box cutter and finding the State’s version of events more accurate. See id. Moreover, the trial court considered additional factors, like Gaddis’[s] need for “treatment and other cognitive intervention,” which stemmed from Gaddis’[s] substance abuse problems. See [State v.] Gallion, [2004 WI 42,] 270 Wis. 2d 535, ¶43 n.11[, 678 N.W.2d 197].

¶10     While the trial court could certainly have been more extensive in its comments, review of the record permits only one conclusion: the trial court properly exercised its discretion. Given the defendant’s substance abuse problems, extensive criminal history—with over two-dozen prior convictions—and the nature of the incident, this court agrees with the order denying Gaddis’[s] postconviction motion:

[The trial] court concedes that its sentencing comments could have been more extensive. The court could have gone on for pages and pages of transcript but did not need to do so in this case to state the obvious: that the defendant was a career criminal with serious rehabilitative needs who was unwilling or unable to curb his criminal behavior. Probation was obviously off the table given the defendant’s history. And while there were some mitigating factors in the defendant’s favor, the court did not assign any significant weight to them and was not required to do so.

Nor did the sentencing court rely on inaccurate information about Gaddis’s conduct or the possibility he could have been charged with a more serious crime. Gaddis was detained for shoplifting, and upon being told to empty his pockets he pulled out a box cutter; but he disputed the security guard’s characterization that he then displayed the box cutter in a threatening manner. (¶¶2-3). The circuit court had sufficient factual basis to conclude the security guards felt threatened, and that under these circumstances Gaddis could have been charged with a felony, even if he may not have been convicted. (¶¶12-18).

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