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Judicial Bias – Sentencing after Revocation

State v. James Robert Thomas, No. 2010AP332-CR, District III, 7/27/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Thomas: Steven D. Phillips, SPD, Madison Appellate; BiC; Resp.; Reply

The sentencing court exhibited objective bias, requiring resentencing, when it imposed the maximum on sentencing after revocation, given the court’s threat when it placed Thomas on probation to do just that if his probation were revoked.

State v. Brian K. Goodson, 2009 WI App 107, followed. Goodson recognizes that judicial bias may exist in one of two, “alternative” forms: objective appearance of bias; and bias-in-fact. Both were apparent in Goodson, while in this instance only the objective appearance of bias is manifest. That is enough, the court rejecting the State’s contention that both forms must be present:

¶7        However, unlike the second, alternative basis for our objective bias conclusion in Goodson, this case is not one of those rare instances where actual bias is demonstrated on the record.  In Goodson, the circuit court freely acknowledged it had prejudged the outcome and was enforcing its earlier promise to impose the maximum sentence.  In contrast, here the court did not explicitly invoke its earlier promise to impose the maximum when providing its sentencing reasons.[2]

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