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No misuse of discretion in ordering juvenile to register as sex offender

State v. M. E.-T., 2015AP625, 1/20/15, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

Despite the circuit court’s rather evident prejudgment of the outcome, its “lengthy and well-reasoned” decision showed that it properly exercised its discretion in denying M. E.-T.’s motion to stay the requirement that he register as a sex offender.

As a result of his second adjudication for sexual assault, M. E.-T. was ordered to register as a sex offender. After successful completion of treatment at Lincoln Hills and positive progress at Lad Lake, he moved to stay the registration requirement. The court held a hearing that featured the supportive testimony of people from Lincoln Hills and Lad Lake and from a psychiatrist who conducted a sex offender evaluation and concluded M. E.-T. was at low risk for reoffending. The court denied the motion. (¶¶4-9).

M. E.-T. argues the court acted based on a preconceived policy rather than the evidence in this case, as demonstrated by the court’s statement that M. E.-T. had the burden of proving he shouldn’t have to register and that “I don’t know if he could” meet that burden because he had been assessed as a low risk after his first adjudication and then went on to reoffend: “…[P]eople were wrong once before, and I cannot take that chance.” (¶¶9, 12). The court of appeals holds that the circuit court properly exercised its discretion:

¶13     In a lengthy and well-reasoned oral decision, the circuit court discussed numerous factors which ultimately led to the court’s conclusion that M.E.-T. was at risk of reoffending, and thus, should be on the sex offender registry. The court considered the Wis. Stat. § 938.34(15m)(c) factors, M.E.-T.’s upbringing, witness testimony, multiple psychological evaluations, M.E.-T.’s progress at Lincoln Hills and Lad Lake, and the impact on the victim, among other things. The court noted contradictions between multiple clinical evaluations of M.E.-T. and witness testimony attesting to M.E.-T.’s maturity and low risk of reoffending.

¶14     Ultimately, after a fifteen-page explanation of numerous facts, witness testimony and psychological evaluations, the circuit court determined that “[M.E.-T.’s] risk will always reflect at least a moderate level given the significant number of static factors that he possesses.” ….

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