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State v. John A. Augoki, 2016AP231-CR, 4/25/17, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Augoki raises two claims on appeal of his jury-trial conviction of three sexual assaults: that the jury heard other-acts evidence it should hot have heard (raised here as plain error) and that the court unconstitutionally limited his cross-examination of a state expert. The court of appeals rejects both in a fact-intensive opinion. Read more

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State v. K.C., 2017AP32, District 1, 4/25/17 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

The trial court properly exercised its discretion when, as a sanction for “egregious” behavior, it defaulted K.C. at the grounds-phase of the trial on the TPR petition filed against her. Read more

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Justice Gorsuch’s nomination generated a lot of press about the Chevron doctrine–the idea that, under federal law, courts must defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of a statute that it is charged with enforcing. See e.g. this SCOTUSblog post and this NYTimes article.  With Gorsuch confirmed, pundits expect SCOTUS to take on the “administrative state” soon.  Looks like SCOW will beat it to the punch at least with respect to courts and administrative agencies in Wisconsin.  Yesterday, SCOW granted a petition for review in Tetra Tech EC, Inc v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue and took the unusual step of asking the parties to brief an additional issue. Here it is:

Does the practice of deferring to agency interpretations of statutes comport with Article VII, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which vests the judicial power in the unified court system?

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State v. Lemberger, 2017 WI 39, April 20, 2017, affirming a one-judge court of appeals decision; 2017AP1452; case activity (including briefs)

The supreme court declares Lemberger’s legal claim “unsettled,” and thus holds his trial counsel did not perform deficiently by not raising it. The court’s opinion, however, fails to present the actual substance of the claim. Read more

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Nelson v. Colorado, USSC No. 15-526, (April 20, 2017), reversing and remanding Colorado v. Nelson, 364 P.3d 866 (2015); SCOTUSblog page (inlcuding links to briefs and commentary).

This decision establishes that a State cannot force an exonerated defendant to file a civil suit and prove his innocence by clear and convincing evidence in order to recover costs, fees, and restitution he paid upon conviction. Read more

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So asks Orin Kerr in a post at the Volokh Conspiracy about a decision from the Fifth Circuit, Alexander v. City of Round Rock, 2107 WL 1393702 (April 18, 2017), involving a § 1983 lawsuit against police alleging violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Read more

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This week Pacific Standard magazine reported on some interesting new research. Jurors are more likely to convict a person accused of a gruesome crime if they are shown color photographs of the victim rather than black and white photographs. Read more here.

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This week Wired ran an op-ed arguing that courts should stop using algorithms to set bail and sentence defendants until some ground rules are set. Yes, it discusses Compas and State v. Loomis. But beyond that it describes what could happen if courts move from using simple algorithms to using deep learning algorithms known as neural networks to sentence someone. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Consider a scenario in which the defense attorney calls a developer of a neural-network-based risk assessment tool to the witness stand to challenge the “high risk” score that could affect her client’s sentence. On the stand, the engineer could tell the court how the neural network was designed, what inputs were entered, and what outputs were created in a specific case. However, the engineer could not explain the software’s decision-making process. With these facts, or lack thereof, how does a judge weigh the validity of a risk-assessment tool if she cannot understand its decision-making process? How could an appeals court know if the tool decided that socioeconomic factors, a constitutionally dubious input, determined a defendant’s risk to society? Following the reasoning in Loomis, the court would have no choice but to abdicate a part of its responsibility to a hidden decision-making process.

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