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Resources for defenders during the pandemic

On Point is posting resources to assist defense lawyers during the pandemic. The list will remain here at the top of the blog so you can find it easily.  Help your colleagues and clients. Alert us to new information through email or the comment section, and we will add it. Also, we’ll be working to share useful information and updates on our Facebook and Twitter feeds; click the links to visit and subscribe.

Court orders suspending or modifying rules and proceedings.


  • Milwaukee epidemiologists have issued this Declaration to Protect Incarcerated Persons, Correctional Staff, and Wisconsin Communities from COVID-19. It may support motions for release from jail or prison.
  • Today Governor Evers issued a 16-page “safer at home” order, which closes no-essential businesses. The State Public Defender is an “essential business;” issued 3/24/20
  • Wisconsin’s DOC halts prison admissions/transfers due to pandemic; issued 3/22/20
  • Wisconsin circuit courts have adopted confusing, inconsistent procedures in response to the pandemic. WACDL has asked SCOW to set uniform guidelines for all circuit courts. Read its letter. 3/19/20 (See above, the supreme court issued new orders on March 22 pertaining to circuit court proceedings.)
  • ICE announced it will reduce enforcement actions during the pandemic. 3/18/20
  • The Wisconsin State Bar will allow lawyers to earn 30 CLE credits (instead of only 15) through the end of the year. 3/20/20
  • According to this Journal Sentinel article, a person who defies a health official’s order to isolate or quarantine could be prosecuted under Wisconsin’s Communicable Disease Act and face 9 months in jail and a $10,000 fine. 3/22/20
  • The Washington Post has a lengthy article about nationwide efforts to free jail and prison inmates in response to the pandemic

Practice materials/ sample motions/ considerations

  • How do you defend your client at a evidentiary hearing conduct by telephone or video conference? Mike Tobin offers practice pointers here.
  • How do the measures imposed by Wisconsin courts in response to the pandemic compare to those of other courts? The National Center for State Courts is keep track. Click here.
  • Motion for Modification of Bail, Waukesha County. Click here.
  • Motion for Stay of Sentence Due to Pandemic, Columbia County. Click here.
  • Affidavits from six physicians–epidemiologists and specialists in health in correctional facilities–for use as motion exhibits. They contain good info on the high risk of severe illness for incarcerated people, and could support bond, sentence mod, or or stay motions. (Golod, Ompad, Stern, Greifinger, Beyrer, Meyer, Sufrin)
  • A statement from Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform on the harms specific to incarcerated juveniles during this pandemic.
  • Wisconsin’ Office of Court Operations drafted FAQs re Chapter 51/54/55 proceedings during the pandemic. This is advice for judges and court staff re examinations and hearings. Defense lawyers may view things differently.
  • The Office of Court Operations also drafted FAQs Regarding Timelines in Chapter 48 and 938 Cases  during the pandemic.  Ditto regarding the disclaimer
  • NACDL has posted templates and samples of a motion challenging pre-trial confinement, motion for immediate release, motion to reduce sentence, motion for reconsideration of bail conditions, and so forth Click here and scroll down. These may be adaptable to Wisconsin practice.
  • Trials and jury deliberations by video conference? Some things to consider.
  • Commentary from the Brennan Center on Justice on the U.S. DOJ’s proposals for how federal trial courts should deal with the pandemic.
  • The Federal Defender Services Training Division has compiled a rich trove of information, sample motions, court orders, etc. Some is specific to federal practice but it’s definitely worth a look.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Dan Muza March 27, 2020, 12:38 pm

    Anyone having any luck as to inmates on Probation/Extended Supervision holds? If so, do you have any sample Motions and/or Orders to share?

    Thank you!

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