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This week in SCOW: transgender rights, religion at sentencing, and . . .

This week the Wisconsin Supreme Court hears oral argument in 5 cases concerning public defense. They raise some hot-button issues. Here are the cases, issues, and the times for the arguments, which you can watch on Wisconsineye.org:

Wednesday, December 8th

9:45  State v. Christopher W. Yakich: When a defendant has been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in two separate cases and is subject to two separate commitment orders, does the circuit court have authority to run the terms of commitment consecutive to one another?

10:45  Sheboygan County v. M.W.: What is the proper remedy when, in a ch. 51 recommitment proceeding, the circuit court fails to make specific factual findings with reference to the statutory basis for its determination of dangerousness as required by Langlade County v. D.J.W., 2020 WI 41, 391 Wis. 2d 231, 942 N.W.2d 277?

December 9th 

9:45  State v. Westley D.Whitaker:  Does it violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Article I, Section 18 of the Wisconsin Constitution to consider a defendant’s religious identity and impose a sentence intended to deter crime solely within his religious community?

If a sentencing court may consider a defendant’s religious association to deter other members of a religious community, does the “reliable nexus” test of State v. Fuerst, 181 Wis. 2d 903, 512 N.W.2d 243 (Ct. App. 1994), and State v. J.E.B., 161 Wis. 2d 655, 469 N.W.2d 192 (Ct. App. 1991), require congruity between the offense and the activity protected by the First Amendment?

Does the sentencing factor/objective of “protection of the public” permit the sentencing court to increase the sentence imposed on the defendant to send a message to an identified set of third parties that they should alter their behavior in the future, apart from generally being deterred from committing offenses like those committed by the defendant? (Added by the supreme court.)

December 10th

9:45  State v. Nhia Lee: Whether a circuit court is required to appoint counsel at the county’s expense when the SPD is unable to do so within 10 days of the defendant’s initial appearance?

Whether Lee’s rights to due process, to counsel, and to a speedy trial were violated by his protracted pretrial confinement as he waited for the State Public Defender to find counsel for him.

10:45  State v. C.G.: Does Wis. Stat. § 301.45, the statute governing juvenile sex offender registration, unconstitutionally infringe on Ella’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech by preventing her from legally changing her name to reflect her gender identity?

Does requiring Ella to register under Wis. Stat. § 301.45 amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment?

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