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Ambiguity in Oral Pronouncement, Resolved by Written Judgment

State v. Edward W. Fisher, 2005 WI App 175
For Fisher: Eileen Miller Carter


¶16            Fisher’s contentions grossly misrepresent the record. Assuming the court’s oral ruling contained some ambiguity, the written judgment of conviction and the conditions of extended supervision are crystal clear with respect to what conduct the conditions cover. See Jackson v. Gray, 212 Wis. 2d 436, 443, 569 N.W.2d 467 (Ct. App. 1997) (where oral pronouncement ambiguous, we may look to written judgment to ascertain circuit court’s intent). …

Jackson summarizes the organizing principle this way: “When there is a conflict between an ambiguous oral pronouncement and the written judgment, the intent of the judge controls the determination. See State  v. Lipke, 186 Wis.2d 358, 364, 521 N.W.2d. 444, 446 (Ct. App. 1994). “[W]here the oral pronouncement is ambiguous, it is proper to look at the written judgment to ascertain the court’s intention.” Id. ” The reference to an ambiguous oral pronouncement isn’t accidental, for when the oral pronouncement is unambiguous then it controls disposition over some contrary expression in the written judgment, see e.g., State v. Gabriel L. Ortiz, 2001 WI App 215, ¶27.


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