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17. Plain error rule

State v. Troy Allen Shaw, 2023AP697, 1/24/24, District II (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Shaw’s challenge to improper closing argument persuades COA that the prosecutor erred, but fails to overcome the imposing tests for plain and harmless error. Shaw appeals his conviction for criminal trespass to a dwelling. (¶1). In a… Read more


Waukesha County v. C.A.E., 2020AP834-FT, District 2, 9/16/20 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity “Carly” argued that the circuit court committed plain error when it admitted and relied on hearsay evidence of dangerousness introduced through the County’s testifying doctor at her recommitment hearing. She also challenged the court’s involuntary med order because the last… Read more


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


State v. Frank M. Zdzieblowski, 2014 WI App 130; case activity The prosecutor during voir dire elicited a promise from prospective jurors that they would convict if the State proved the elements of the charged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, and then reminded the jurors of that promise in his rebuttal closing argument. The court of… Read more


State v. Donald W. Jorgensen, 2008 WI 60, reversing unpublished decision For Jorgensen: Martha K. Askins, SPD, Madison Appellate Issue/Holding: ¶21      Wisconsin Stat. § 901.03(4) (2003-04) recognizes the plain error doctrine. [3] The plain error doctrine allows appellate courts to review errors that were otherwise waived by a party’s failure to object.  State v. Mayo, 2007 WI… Read more