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SCOW will review circuit court’s attempt to act like a DOC supervision agent

State v. Junior L. Williams-Holmes, petition for review of a published court of appeals decision granted 11/16/22; case activity (including PFR, PFR response, and briefs)

Issue presented (from the defendant’s PFR)

Can a circuit court use its statutory authority to modify conditions of probation and extended supervision to regulate the day-to-day affairs of individuals on supervision, contrary to statutes conferring on the Department of Corrections the exclusive authority to administer probation?

As explained in On Point’s post on the decision, the circuit court ordered, as a condition of Williams-Holmes’s extended supervision and probation, that he not live with any member of the opposite sex or any unrelated child “without permission of the Court.” The court of appeals read this as a permissible no-contact order given the circuit court’s power to impose reasonable and appropriate supervision conditions, §§  973.01(5) and 973.09(1)(a), and to modify those conditions, §§ 302.113(7m)(a) and 973.09(3)(a). It rejected Williams-Holmes’s argument that the circuit court was using its authority to establish supervision conditions to take over the day-to-day administration of probation (at least for the purposes of his living arrangements), contrary to §§ 301.03(3) and 973.10(1), which grant DOC the authority to “administer” probation, parole and extended supervision matters and “control” probationers.

The PFR (and our post) discuss how the court of appeals decision overlooks the circuit court’s own characterization of its “condition” as a “requirement for my approval of DOC’s practice of residential placement” as well as the myriad and significant practical difficulties that will arise—for both the person on supervision and the court system—if circuit courts can engage in this kind of end-run around DOC’s statutorily-mandated powers. The supreme court will now have to tell us where a circuit court’s authority to set supervision “conditions” ends and DOC’s authority to administer and control begins.

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