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Defendant failed to make timely jury demand in OWI 1st case

Washington County v. Justin David Dettmering, 2022AP941, District 2, 12/21/22 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Dettmering didn’t demand a jury within the time indicated on the citation he was issued for OWI 1st, but he later claimed he should get a jury because he wasn’t advised of his right to a jury at his first court appearance as required by § 345.34(1). The court of appeals rejects his claim.

Dettmering’s citation for OWI 1st advised him that if he wanted a jury trial on the charge he had to make a written demand and pay the jury fee within 10 days of entering a not guilty plea. (¶3). The citation also gave a non-mandatory appearance date, which was a pretrial with the prosecutor not an appearance before a judge. Dettmering went to that pretrial; after he and the prosecutor failed to resolve the case Dettmering signed a form saying he was entering a not guilty plea and requesting a court trial. (¶4).

Dettmering later hired a lawyer, who moved for a jury trial on the grounds that § 345.34(1) required the court to advise Dettmering of the right to a jury at Dettmering’s first appearance and the failure to do so meant he could demand one even though more than 10 days had passed since Dettmering’s not guilty plea. (¶¶5, 7-8). But § 345.34(1) doesn’t apply here: Dettmering didn’t “appear[] in response to a citation” because his citation didn’t mandate an appearance; rather, it allowed him to appear at the date, which means § 345.34(3) applies, and that statute doesn’t require a court to personally inform him of the right to a jury. (¶8).

Even if § 345.34(1) did apply, Dettmering’s argument doesn’t succeed. It’s undisputed he wasn’t “brought before a court with jurisdiction to try the case”; indeed, he  didn’t “appear” before a court at all, but only met with the prosecutor to see if the case could be resoled short of trial. This distinguishes Dettmering’s case from City of Madison v. Donohoo, 118 Wis. 2d 646, 348 N.W.2d 170 (1984), on which he relies: Donohoo was required to appear (and, when he did, the court incorrectly told him he had to enter a plea, which started the 10-day time limit to demand a jury, when the statute allows the defendant to get an adjournment). (¶¶9-10). Further, the citation Dettmering received explicitly told him about his right to a jury and the procedure for demanding one, and it therefore satisfied the purpose of the statute’s requirement that the court advise the defendant of his right to a jury. (¶11).

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