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19. Prior record, admission of

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


court of appeals decision (1-judge; not for publication); for Knapp: David M. Helmke; BiC; Resp. Harmless Error – Prior Conviction Inadmissible testimony suggestive of a prior conviction (Knapp’s statement upon arrest “that he was going to jail again”) was non-prejudicial: Knapp himself testified he had a prior conviction and nothing in the inadmissible testimony indicated… Read more


State v. Sylvester Sigarroa, 2004 WI App 16, PFR filed 1/2/04 For Sigarroa: John Pray, UW Law School Issue/Holding: A witness’s improper reference to the defendant’s prior criminal history was not prejudicial, where the judge ordered it struck, gave the standard final instruction on ignoring all things stricken, and the evidence of guilt was overwhelming… Read more