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Gabler v. Crime Victims Rights Board, 2016AP275, petition for bypass granted 10/11/16

On bypass;  case activity (including briefs)

Issue (derived from court of appeals’ briefs):

Whether the Crime Victims Rights Board’s power to remedy a violation of a victim’s right to the speedy disposition of a criminal case can be applied to judges without violating the separation of powers doctrine.

This case reached SCOW via a bypass petition, which On Point does not have. The parties’ briefs identify many issues but the one above seems to be the biggie. Under Article I, § 9m of the Wisconsin Constitution and §950.04(iv)(k), crime victims have the right to a timely and speedy disposition of a criminal case. If a trial court violates that right, the victim may file a complaint with the Crime Victims Right Board.  In this case, a victim of child sexual assault filed a complaint with the Crime Victims Rights Board arguing that Judge William Gabler violated her right to a speedy disposition when he delayed the defendant’s sentencing by 6 months. The Board ruled in her favor, and the circuit court reversed. Why did Judge Gabler delay the sentencing? Because the State had charged the defendant with a second sexual assault, and Gabler wanted to sentence him after the second trial.

You can imagine that the Board’s decision might not sit well with circuit court judges since they have a well-established right to control their own dockets. And it might not sit well with SCOW since it has enjoyed the exclusive right to discipline judges. The Board argues that Article I, § 9m created a new constitutional restriction on a circuit court’s discretion to act in a criminal case and that it provides a crime victim with a remedy where the judge’s violation does not rise to the level of judicial misconduct. Indeed, Article I, § 9m supposedly means that SCOW’s power to remedy a judicial violation of a victim’s rights is now shared with the legislature. Will SCOW be receptive to this argument–especially since 4 justices are former circuit court justices? We’ll find out soon.


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