A State Assembly committee recommended adoption of a bill that make more people eligible to have their criminal records expunged, but made four more crimes ineligible for expungement.
Felony stalking offenses, misdemeanor property damage to a business, misdemeanor criminal trespass to a dwelling, and violation of a domestic abuse injunction or restraining order would be ineligible for expungement under an amendment adopted by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a 8-6 vote. The bill then was forwarded to the full Assembly on a unanimous vote.
The Senate's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee recommended Senate adoption of the bill, without the additional four ineligible crimes, on a 5-2 vote.
The full Assembly is expected to consider its version June 16.
Wisconsin's expungement law is stricter than other states' laws. Currently, a person who wants to have a criminal conviction expunged from their Wisconsin record must ask the judge at the time of sentencing, before the judge has any idea how that person does in prison or on supervision. The law also limits the availability of expungement to those less than 25 years old at the time of the crime and to those who do not have a felony conviction record. The offense for which expungement is requested must not be a violent felony and must not carry a penalty greater than six years in prison.
Both the Assembly and Senate versions of the bill would change the law in several ways. It would remove the discriminatory age limit of 25 and would allow people convicted of crimes to request expungement when they complete their sentences.
Other limits, including a prohibition on expunging records related to violent crimes and crimes carrying penalties of more than six years in prison, would remain in place.
Under the bill, once an expunction petition is filed, a judge would review it and either grant or deny it. If denied, a new petition could not be filed for two years.
The bill also would limit a person to one expunction.
The legislation also makes clear what it means to successfully complete a sentence. That would include completing community service, paying all fines, fees, restitution, and completing any community supervision without revocation.
Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications. WJI also will continue to profile former Gov. Scott Walker's appointees who are still in office.
Italics indicates direct quotes from the application.
Name: Chris L. Taylor
Appointed to: Dane County Circuit Court
Appointment date: June 11, 2020 (Elected in April 2021.)
Law School – University of Wisconsin Law School
Undergraduate – University of Pennsylvania
High School – Birmingham High School, Lake Balboa, CA
Recent legal employment:
August 2011-present – State legislator, Wisconsin State Assembly
2003-present – Public policy director, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
Wisconsin State Bar
Wisconsin State Supreme Court bar admission
General character of practice before becoming a judge:
My law practice consisted of civil litigation primarily in areas of family law, including various injunctions and guardian ad litem appointments. In my early practice, I also assisted partners with various plaintiff-side employment issues and a significant campaign finance case.
In my position at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, I provided legal counsel to the Public Affairs Department.
Describe typical clients:
I primarily represented family law clients and developed a specialty in that area. At Planned Parenthood, I developed a specialty in reproductive health law, managed and reorganized our public affairs board, supervised junior lawyers and public affairs staff, provided support for policy makers and provided extensive legal analysis and writing regarding various reproductive health issues.
Number of cases tried to verdict: Approximately five. Had dozens of motion hearings, depositions, etc.
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
As a state legislator for the last decade (2011-present), I used my legal experience to research, draft and pass important legislation in many areas, including law enforcement reform as follows:
1. Independent Criminal Investigations following police-involved deaths. 2013 Wis. Act 348 was legislation I co-authored with Republican Representative Garey Bies, a former deputy sheriff. This first in the nation law requires that following the death of civilian by law enforcement, two independent lead investigators outside of the police department involved must lead the resulting criminal investigation. This is significant in providing independence, transparency and accountability to the public.
2. Police Use of Force Standards, AB 1012-Other reform legislation I authored set specific police use of force standards to delineate the "objective reasonableness" standard set forth in Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). Though this bill has not passed, many provisions were eventually incorporated into reforms adopted by the Madison City Council.
3. Body Camera standards, 2019 Wisconsin Act 108-This bill resulted from a Legislative Student (sic) Committee on law enforcement body cameras I co-chair with Republican Senate Pat Testin. This unanimously approved legislation set important body camera standards for law enforcement, including a presumption that such footage should be available
to the public.
As a practicing attorney at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (2003-2011), I lead (sic) a five year initiative around protecting patients' rights to have their birth control prescriptions filled in Wisconsin pharmacies without harassment or delay. In administrative (In the Discipline of Neil Noesen, LS-0310091-PHM) and Court of Appeals actions concerning a pharmacist who refused to fill and transfer a patient's birth control prescription (Noesen v. Wisconsin, 2008 WI App 52), I primarily researched and authored two Amicus briefs regarding ethical and legal issues presented.
My legal research and advocacy helped pass an important state law in 2009 that requires pharmacies to dispense patients' birth control prescriptions without delay.
As a litigator in private practice from 1996-2003, I managed dozen of cases primarily involving family law, various injunction actions and several GAL (guardian ad litem) cases.
1. In In re the Marriage of Moe, 2000 FA1363 I represented petitioner from 2000-2002 in a contentious divorce action resulting in a trial and a plethora of post-judgment motions before Judge Diane Nicks. This case was significant because it concerned complicated determinations of the respondent's income due to his failure to disclose income streams found by extensively examining bank records.
2. In Hagen v. Heisig, 2002CV1167 I represented plaintiff from 4/11/02-5/20/02 in obtaining a permanent harassment restraining order from Judge Moria Krueger for employees and customers at her daycare facility. This was a significant case because it involved a child care business needing an harassment restraining order rather than an individual.
3. I also served as a GAL for an individual with mental health issues being evicted from public housing by the City of Madison. Though the defendant refused to contact me or appear for trial, I successfully litigated this case before Judge William Foust by showing that the city never attempted to accommodate his disability in violation of federal disability laws.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies:
Wrote amicus brief in 2004 administrative hearing regarding pharmacist Neil Noesen and his refusal to fill and transfer a person's birth control prescription; attended the hearing.
As legislator and Joint Finance Committee member, attended many hearings with staff and leadership of administrative agencies.
I treat these hearings as I would treat a legal hearing in preparing questions and soliciting needed information.
Describe your non-litigation legal experience (e.g., arbitration, mediation).
Volunteered with Case Mediation Program to help settle family law disputes; at Planned Parenthood, performed legal tasks including drafting, amending and advocating for legislation that supported health policy; prepared legislative and regulatory analysis, memos and materials on relevant public policy matters, and provided state and federal legal and constitutional analysis, legal research and writing on a variety of reproductive health, women's rights and campaign finance issues.
As legislator, evaluated and analyzed various policies, co-authored more than 250 bills and resolutions, focusing on needed legal reforms in areas of social justice, criminal justice reform, environmental conservation, protecting and enhancing democracy, women’s and civil rights and issues concerning children....I have used my legal background to play a key role in exposing nefarious assaults on our democracy brought, and sometimes buried, in lengthy, last minute motions that we are given little time to review. For example, the “Lame Duck” laws, which curtailed both executive and judicial powers, were first distributed to minority JFC members late on a Friday afternoon for a Monday hearing. This required me, as the only attorney among the minority members, to quickly digest, analyze and expose the significant legal ramifications these bills posed.
By Gretchen Schuldt
A Republican bill that would send thousands of people on community supervision to prison would cost the state up to $1 billion to build two prisons to house the increased population and $171 million a year in increased operating costs, according to a fiscal estimate from the Department of Corrections.
The bill, Senate Bill 188, would require DOC to recommend revoking a person's extended supervision, parole, or probation if the person is charged with a crime while on release.
DOC estimated that there would be an additional 6,280 revocation cases per year and 47%, or 2,952, of the recommendations would be ratified by the Department of Administration's Division of Hearings and Appeals, which reviews and decides such cases.
If each additional revocation resulted in an additional 19 months in prison, the average daily prison population would jump by 4,673.
The Hearings and Appeals Division now affirms about 87% of revocation recommendations and the average time served for those is 39 months. DOC said it is likely that a smaller percentage of revocation recommendations would be affirmed if the agency must try to revoke everyone accused of a crime. DOC said it now uses several factors to determine whether revocation is appropriate.
Bills similar to SB188 have been introduced in the past.
"I look forward to defeating this bill for a fourth time," said State Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), a leading legislative proponent of criminal justice reform.
Oshkosh Correctional Institution housed a daily average of 2,035 inmates in 2020, DOC said in its estimate. DOC would need two additional prisons of about that size to house the increased population.
"It is estimated that the cost to construct one new 2,000 bed medium security correctional institution would be approximately $450 million to $550 million," the agency said.
The Badger State Sheriff's Association, in testimony last month before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said the bill would hit local jail budgets as well.
"This means 6,280 more individuals will be occupying county jails without reimbursement from DOC," the association said. "Essentially, this bill is an unfunded mandate to Wisconsin county jails."
And DOC Secretary Kevin Carr, testifying against the bill, said that prison populations declined during the pandemic.
"That number will be increasing back to pre-pandemic levels without legislative change," he said. "There are serious and immediate safety consequences within existing DOC facilities if any legislation increases the incarceration rate."
The State Public Defender's Office said the proposed process raised constitutional concerns.
"And while the administrative law judge would still retain discretion under the bill whether or not to revoke supervision...this bill will lead to prison sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the alleged criminal activity," SPD said.
By Gretchen Schuldt
(Updated 6/7/21 to correct Booth's biography.)
Ezekiel Gillespie, born a slave, grew up to win the right to vote for Wisconsin's Black men. (All women would have to wait a while.)
Gillespie may be one of the better-known unsung heroes in Wisconsin's legal history – he at least has a pocket park named after him – but his story seems especially timely now, as the Legislature works diligently to increase restrictions on who can vote and when.
Gillespie was born a slave in Georgia. His mother also was enslaved and his father reportedly was their owner. Reports about how Gillespie got his freedom are contradictory, but he may have bought his freedom from his own father.
State voters were asked in an 1849 constitutional referendum whether the voting franchise should be extended to African American men. There were numerous political offices up for a vote at the same time. The franchise referendum passed, 5,265 to 4,075, but a lot of voters who went to the polls didn't vote on the referendum question at all – they were more interested in other items on the ballot. Because the referendum did not receive a majority of all the votes cast that day, officials said, it failed.
That is how the matter stayed until 1865, when Gillespie tried to register to vote in Milwaukee.
Unsurprisingly, election officials turned him away, as did election officials when he showed up at the polls to vote.
Gillespie sued the Milwaukee board of election inspectors. In anticipation of the suit, Gillespie already was working with Sherman Booth, an abolitionist and newspaper editor. Gillespie was represented by Byron Paine, a premier civil rights attorney of the time and a former (and future) State Supreme Court justice, who may have had his fees covered by Booth.
Gillespie lost in Milwaukee County Circuit Court and appealed to the Supreme Court.
D.G. Hooker, representing the election inspectors, argued that the constitution required that the suffrage measure, to be adopted, had to be approved by a majority of voters in the election, not just a majority voting on the referendum.
"It is not reasonable to presume...that the convention intended to permit a change in the provisions of the constitution on so important a subject as the right of suffrage, and one which the convention knew would at that time have been particularly odious to a large majority of the people, without requiring that it should be approved, either by an actual majority of all the members of the legislature, or by an actual majority of the voters themselves," he argued.
But the court disagreed.
"Under the provisions of our constitution, as well as of other constitutions, persons are elected to a particular office who have a majority of the votes cast – not for the candidates for some other office, but for the candidates for that office...." Justice Jason Downer wrote for the three-member court. "To declare a measure or law adopted or defeated – not by the number of votes cast directly for or against it, but by the number cast for and against some other measure, or for the candidates for some office or offices not connected with the measure itself, would not only be out of the ordinary course of legislation, but, so far as we know, a thing unknown in the history of constitutional law."
Please help us identify people and events that deserve more recognition for their place in Wisconsin’s legal history. You can send as much information as you want, but at minimum we need:
-The name of the person / identity or name of event
-A picture, if available
-A brief description of the person or event and the person or event’s impact on Wisconsin law or legal history
-Where we can find out more about the person or event
We are closing this phase of the project on Nov. 15.
Please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to WJI, P.O.
Box 100705, Milwaukee, WI 53210
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin