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Presentence Report — Bias of Author: Spouse of Another Agent Concurrently Responsible for Defendant’s Supervision

State v. Donald W. Thexton, 2007 WI App 11, PFR filed 1/02/07
For Thexton: Kirk B. Obear

Issue/Holding: The rule of State v. David W. Suchocki, 208 Wis. 2d 509, 561 N.W.2d 332 (Ct. App. 1997) (conflict of interest where PSI author married to defendant’s prosecutor) does not extend to situation where PSI author is married to another probation agent and both are jointly supervising the defendant:

¶5       We do not believe that the same inherent bias exists in the relationship between two supervising probation agents. Suchocki stated that it was vital for the author of the report to be independent of either the prosecution or the defenseId. at 518. This independence is crucial because the prosecution and the defense are the two parties to a criminal action, and the report’s author functions as an agent of the court which must deal impartially with both parties. Thexton’s argument is essentially that a report’s author must be independent of other probation agents, but this cannot be the case. The State correctly points out that the supervising probation agent often conducts the PSI. [4] If one supervising probation officer can be a neutral agent of the court, we can think of no reason why two cannot be, or why it should make any difference if the two happen to be married. The reasoning of Suchocki does not fit the facts of this case, and we affirm the circuit court on this point.

 

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