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Binding Authority – US Supreme Court Case Law

State v. Gary M.B., 2003 WI App 72, affirmed2004 WI 33
For Gary M.B.: T. Christopher Kelly

¶11. As Gary correctly notes, however, we are not bound by the Ohler decision because the Supreme Court’s holding did not rest on an interpretation of U.S. Constitutional or other “federal law” that we must apply in this case. Rather, the Court in Ohler enunciated a rule of administration3 applicable to the federal courts based on what it deemed to be a “well-established commonsense principle.” Id. at 756. Holdings of the United States Supreme Court are binding on this court only when they address questions of federal law which govern the dispute before us. See State v. King, 205 Wis. 2d 81, 93, 555 N.W.2d 189 (Ct. App. 1996). The question of whether Gary waived the right to challenge in this court the trial court’s ruling on the number of convictions admissible for impeachment purposes is not a question of federal law. We are therefore free to apply our own notion of “commonsense principles” in determining whether to find waiver in a defendant’s preemptive introduction of conviction evidence in response to a court’s pre-trial denial of a motion to exclude it.
3 Waiver rules applied by appellate courts are “rule[s] of administration,” not of jurisdiction or of the court’s power. See, e.g., State v. Riekkoff, 112 Wis. 2d 119, 124, 332 N.W.2d 744 (1983).

The supreme court affirmance of the court of appeals approved this distinct point, 2004 WI 33 ¶17.

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