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SVP – Trial: Venue – County of Predicate Offense

State v. Bernard G. Tainter, 2002 WI App 296, PFR filed 12/23/02


¶14. Wisconsin Const. art. I, § 7, grants criminal defendants the right to a trial “by an impartial jury of the county or district wherein the offense shall have been committed; which county or district shall have been previously ascertained by law.” Tainter claims this provision conflicts with Wis. Stat. § 980.02(4) and (5), which allow the commitment trial to be held in the county where the person committed the predicate offense, the county where the person is to reside upon discharge, the county where the person is incarcerated, or Dane County. Tainter argues his right under Wis. Stat. § 980.05(1m) should trump § 980.02(4) and (5) and we should grant him a new trial. We disagree.¶15. We determine the language of the two statutes and the constitution shows the legislature did not intend to extend a defendant’s right to trial in the county where the crime was committed to persons being tried under Wis. Stat. ch. 980. While the legislature intended to afford individuals in ch. 980 proceedings the constitutional rights afforded to criminal defendants, its enactment of a statute specifically addressing venue reveals its intent not to extend a criminal defendant’s right to trial in the county of the offense. Subsections 980.02(4) and (5) specifically deal with venue, while § 980.05(1m) is a general statute addressing constitutional rights. Where a general statute conflicts with a specific statute, the specific statute prevails. State v. Smith, 106 Wis. 2d 151, 159, 316 N.W.2d 124 (Ct. App. 1982).

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