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Evidence, Admissibility – Sufficiency of Objection

State v. Van G. Norwood, 2005 WI App 218
For Norwood: Terry Evans Williams

Issue: Whether objection to admissibility of a defendant’s statement on the ground that it was “an offer of settlement” (which thus raised a § 904.08 bar) sufficed to raise a § 904.10 objection of an inadmissible offer to plead guilty.


¶17      First, at the very least, trial counsel’s objection should have led the court to Wis. Stat. §  904.08, which in turn would have brought Wis. Stat. §  904.10 to the court’s attention. Counsel used the phrase “offer to compromise” in framing her objection, and § 904.08 contains virtually identical language. See State v. Corey J.G., 215 Wis. 2d 395, 407 & n.7, 572 N.W.2d 845 (1998) (stating that although an objection must be sufficiently specific to apprise the trial court of the grounds on which it is based, it is not necessary for counsel to cite the precise statutory section at issue). Section 904.10 lies on the facing page to this statute directly in the reader’s field of vision in the current version of our statutes. Moreover, § 904.10 is directly on point. It categorically mandates the exclusion of plea offers. See State v. Mason, 132 Wis. 2d 427, 432-33, 393 N.W.2d 102 (Ct. App. 1986) (holding that “is not admissible” language in § 904.10 intended a prohibition “for any purpose”). Under the circumstances, § 904.10 was simply too conspicuous not to notice.¶18      Second, one could reasonably conclude that Norwood ’s trial counsel did adequately preserve an objection based on Wis. Stat. § 904.10. Although it may not have been technically correct to characterize Norwood ’s letter as an “offer of settlement,” counsel appears to have used the term loosely to refer to the ultimate disposition of a case. …

¶19      Third, if we apply waiver to this case, Norwood would probably have grounds to claim ineffective assistance of counsel. Counsel performs ineffectively when his or her performance is deficient and prejudices the client’s defense. …


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