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Plea-Withdrawal, Post-sentencing — Procedure — Reliance on Counsel’s Expertise to Infer Understanding of Elements

State v. Robert J. Nichelson, 220 Wis. 2d 214, 582 N.W.2d 460 (Ct. App. 1998)
For Nichelson: Paul M. Moldenhauer


The State concedes that the discussion between Willett and Nichelson did not include a “complete catalogue of the elements of the offense.” It also appears to concede that, “examined in a vacuum, the above colloquy [between Willett and Nichelson] would not satisfy the [constitutional] requirements.” The State, however, asks us to view the above statements in light of the trial court’s statements at the postconviction hearing that Willett was one of “the most experienced and cautious attorneys” to appear before the court. We reject the State’s argument. The trial court’s general opinion of the defense counsel does not establish that the requirements of § 971.08(1)(a), Stats., were met. Our review is instead focused on the transcript of the plea hearing and other evidence in the record that establishes what occurred at the plea hearing. See Van Camp, 213 Wis.2d at 141-42, 569 N.W.2d at 583. Because neither the transcript nor the rest of the record reveals that all the essential elements were discussed with Nichelson, we conclude that § 971.08(1)(a) was not met.


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