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State v. Mark D. Jensen, 2021 WI 27, 3/18/21, affirming a court of appeals summary disposition; case activity (including some briefs)

Julie Jensen died by poisoning in 1998. The state eventually charged her husband, Mark, with having killed her; the defense was that she had died by suicide. Before her death Julie had made oral and written statements to the effect that Mark would be responsible if something happened to her. She wasn’t available to testify at the trial, of course, and Mark moved to exclude these statements on Confrontation grounds. Our supreme court now holds that, when it held these statements testimonial in a prior appeal (in 2007), it established the law of the case; it further concludes that SCOTUS has not altered the law so much since then that the law-of-the-case doctrine should give way. So, it remands for a new trial, without the statements. [continue reading…]

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State v. Chardez Harrison, 2019AP2151, 3/23/21, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Harrison was arrested on suspicion of some armed robberies and carjackings. While he was in custody, a detective read him the Miranda warnings. The version of the warnings printed on cards for the Milwaukee police to use apparently concludes with a question: “Realizing that you have these rights, are you now willing to answer some questions or make a statement?” (¶6). Harrison responded to this question by saying “I don’t want to make no statement right now.” Pretty clear invocation, right? Wrong, says the court of appeals. [continue reading…]

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The Supreme Court’s most recent orders list denied cert in a whole lot of cases; one of those denials drew a written dissent from Justice Sotomayor. She would have granted certiorari and summarily reversed an Eighth Circuit decision denying habeas relief to the defendant. [continue reading…]

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State v. Wilson P. Anderson, 2020AP819-Cr, 3/16/21, District 1 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

A few weeks ago, District 4 issued a to-be-published decision regarding the State’s burden of proof on a motion for involuntary medication to restore a defendant’s competence for trial. See State v. Green. It held that to satisfy Sell v. U.S., 539 U.S. 166 (2003), the State must file an individualized treatment plan specifying the medications and dosages it wants to administer to the defendant, and the circuit court must approve it. In Anderson’s case, District 1 holds that the State can file a psychologist’s report that simply indicates the defendant’s diagnosis, treatment history, and a need for medication (without specifying drugs, dosages, etc.). District 1’s decision in Anderson seems oblivious to, and contradicts, Green and a new District 4 decision in State v. Engen as well as Sell itself and substantial federal case law. [continue reading…]

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State v. Eric Engen, 2020AP160-CR, 3/18/21, District 4, (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

This is the third court of appeals decision on Sell v. United States in three weeks. As in State v. Green, District 4 here again holds that the State must file an individualized treatment plan to support a motion for involuntary medication to restore a defendant’s competence for trial. A psychiatrist’s report simply opining that medication is necessary to restore competency does not satisfy Sell. Green and Engen conflict with District 1’s decision this week in State v. Anderson, which holds that a report by a psychologist (who cannot prescribe medication) simply opining that the defendant needs medication to regain competence, satisfies Sell. The Engen decision is important for several other reasons as well. [continue reading…]

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State v. Robert Daris Spencer, 2018AP942-CR, District 1, 3/9/21 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Spencer challenges the trial court’s decision to dismiss a juror for cause just before deliberations began, but over a dissent the court of appeals holds his claims are forfeited or that any error was harmless. However, Spencer is entitled to a Machner hearing on his claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to hearsay evidence. [continue reading…]

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State v. Theophilous Ruffin, 2019AP1046-CR, District 1, 3/9/21 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Ruffin raises three challenges to how the jury was instructed at his trial. Two are rejected in all respects, but one—regarding trial counsel’s decision to withdraw a self defense instruction—gets him a Machner hearing. [continue reading…]

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City of Cedarburg v. Katherine D. Young, 2020AP1848, District 2, 3/17/21 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Young was prosecuted for an OWI 1st offense that did not arise out of a traffic stop or involve police collecting blood or breath samples or even testifying at trial. Can that be done? Sure, it can. And the evidence that was presented at trial was sufficient to convict her, too. [continue reading…]

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