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Postconviction Motions – § 974.06, Serial Litigation Bar, Penalty Enhancer Exception

State v. Thomas A. Mikulance, 2006 WI App 69
Pro se

Issue/Holding: A “narrow” exception to the serial litigation bar of § 974.06(4) and State v. Escalona-Naranjo, 185 Wis. 2d 168, 185, 517 N.W.2d 157 (1994) is established by State v. Flowers, 221 Wis. 2d 20, 27, 586 N.W.2d 175 (Ct. App. 1998), which “applies only where the defendant files a motion alleging that the State has failed to prove the prior conviction necessary to sustain the habitual criminal status (by proof or by admission) or when the penalty imposed is longer than permitted by law for a repeater,” ¶¶1, 16. Thus, although § 973.13 (sentence exceeding maximum penalty valid only to extent of statutorily authorized maximum) may be invoked in these circumstances to avoid the serial litigation bar, it may not be utilized simply to challenge the procedure under which a guilty plea was taken.

¶18      Simply stated, unlike the defendant in Flowers,Mikulance does not raise a proper Wis. Stat. § 973.13 claim. Section 973.13, as it pertains to sentencing a repeat offender, applies only when the State fails to prove the prior conviction necessary to establish the habitual criminal status (by proof or by admission) or when the penalty given is longer than permitted by law for a repeater. See Flowers, 221 Wis. 2d at 28-29; see also State v. Spaeth, 206 Wis. 2d 135, 155-56, 556 N.W.2d 728 (1996).Mikulance makes neither of these arguments. He does not argue that the court sentenced him to prison for more time than the enhancement statute permits nor does he argue that the sentence was based on lack of proof by the State or lack of an admission by him that the prior conviction existed.¶19      Instead, Mikulance mounts a constitutional challenge to the procedure the court used to accept his no contest pleas. In his most recent postconviction motion, Mikulance argues that the circuit court failed to inform him of the maximum penalties for the substantive charges of battery, disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a telephone and of the penalty enhancements attributable to his conviction as a habitual criminal. Mikulance cannot use Wis. Stat. § 973.13 to raise this type of claim. Therefore, the narrow exception articulated in Flowers for claims properly brought under § 973.13 does not apply.


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