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SVP – Trial: Evidence – Other Crimes

State v. David J. Wolfe, 2001 WI App 136, 246 Wis.2d 233, 631 N.W.2d 240, PFR filed 5/18/01
For Wolfe: Ann T. Bowe

Issue: Whether evidence of the respondent’s arson adjudication, and institutional violations and misconduct while at an adolescent treatment center were admissible under § 904.04.


¶37 Diagnoses of a mental disorder and dangerousness are directly foretold through past conduct. The jury needed to consider evidence of relevant past conduct to determine whether Wolfe had a mental disorder which predisposed him to commit acts of sexual violence and whether there was a substantial probability that he would commit acts of sexual violence in the future.…¶38 The use of an individual’s conduct and behavioral history and their effect on treatment is suitable in a WIS. STAT. ch. 980 commitment case. See State v. Adams, 223 Wis. 2d 60, 73, 588 N.W.2d 336 (Ct. App. 1998), review denied, 225 Wis. 2d 488, 594 N.W.2d 382 (Wis. Apr. 6, 1999) (No. 96-3136).

¶40 At trial, evidence was presented regarding Wolfe’s arson adjudication, his institutional rule violations and misconduct while at Norris, and his inability to participate in treatment programs. Clinical psychologist Michael Caldwell testified that Wolfe suffers from pedophilia and a personality disorder with antisocial features. A personality disorder is exhibited by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others, failure to comply with rules, irresponsibility and lack of remorse. The arson adjudication and institutional misconduct were presented to establish Wolfe’s diagnosed mental disorder, his dangerousness, and his risk of reoffending. This evidence had the tendency to make the statutory elements of a WIS. STAT. ch. 980 commitment more probable than not, State v. Sullivan, 216 Wis. 2d 768, 786, 576 N.W.2d 30 (1998), and thus was relevant. See WIS. STAT. § 904.01.

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