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8. Guilty plea error

State v. Kasey Ann Gomolla, 2022AP199-CR, 2/6/24, District 3 (recommended for publication); case activity Even if the court of appeals had not recommended this decision for publication, Gomolla’s case seems destined for further review. While the facts here are somewhat distinguishable from State v. Cross, 2010 WI 70, 326 Wis. 2d 492, 786 N.W.2d 64… Read more


State v. Keith M. Abbott, 2020 WI App 25; case activity (including briefs) After losing a suppression motion, Abbott pled “no contest” to 2nd degree intentional homicide. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of suppression for some evidence and reversed it as to other evidence. It held that Abbott’s mental breakdown during questioning did… Read more

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How to beat the “harmless error” rap

For the 2015 SPD conference, Judge Sankovitz and Attorneys Rob Henak and Melinda Swartz prepared an excellent outline on a problem that plagues many defense lawyers on appeal.  They have a great issue. They win it, but then the court of appeals or supreme court finds the error harmless.  This detailed, well-researched outline walks you… Read more


Percell Dansberry v. Randy Pfister, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 13-3723, 9/15/15 The judge who took Dansberry’s guilty plea understated the mandatory minimum sentence Dansberry faced, and therefore Dansberry’s plea was not entered with a full understanding of the consequences, as required under Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969), and Brady v. United States, 397… Read more


State v. James Lee Johnson, 2012 WI App 21 (recommended for publication); for Johnson: Melinda A. Swartz, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate; case activity The guilty plea colloquy was defective, in that it failed to advise Johnson that the trial court wasn’t obliged to follow the terms of the plea bargain (here: to dismiss and read-in a… Read more