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SCOW will address “stipulated trials” to preserve issues for appeal

State v. Jacob Richard Beyer, court of appeals certification granted 11-18-20, 2019AP1983; case activity (including briefs)

Issue presented (from the certification):

[W]hether the guilty-plea waiver rule applies when a defendant pleads not guilty to an offense, but stipulates to the inculpatory facts supporting each element of the offense, and explicitly agrees to a finding of guilt at a hearing before the circuit court at which no witness testifies.

Beyer litigated and lost on a discovery issue in the circuit court. He wanted to appeal that issue, but it would be waived if he pleaded guilty. So he, the state, and the circuit court agreed to have a trial on stipulated facts: the parties agreed on the facts of the case, which they presented to the court; no witnesses were called. The court found Beyer guilty and he appealed.

In the court of appeals the state reneged on its agreement and argued that Beyer could not raise his discovery claim because the trial was really a guilty plea. The court of appeals wasn’t sure about this and decided to punt the matter up to a higher court. As we wrote when the certification came out, there are good practical reasons to permit stipulated trials; we’ll see whether those reasons are enough to move SCOW off its rigid adherence to the guilty plea waiver rule.

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