Who would have thought it? Caution -- this video includes adult content.
Hat tip, Brennan Center for Justice.
In the past 98 years, there has been exactly one previously elected State Supreme Court justice who lost a bid for re-election. That happened, according to the State Bar of Wisconsin, back in 1967, when Chief Justice George R. Currie was ousted by the voters.
Currie was in the unfortunate position of facing re-election shortly after joining an opinion ruling that the state could not use its antitrust law to keep the Milwaukee Braves baseball team from relocating to Atlanta. He also was nearing the mandatory retirement and, if re-elected, would not be able to serve the full 10 years, according to the Wisconsin Court System website.
In addition, according to the State Bar, only four State Supreme Court appointees in the past 107 years have been defeated at the polls when they sought full terms.
The State Bar included the election statistics in a report urging adoption of an amendment to the state constitution that would restrict Supreme Court justices to a single, 16-year term. The State Bar recently stepped up its efforts to push the proposal. Amending the state constitution requires that the proposed language be adopted by two consecutive legislatures and by voters in a referendum.
The report said a 16-year term for justices makes sense for several reasons:
"Are you in favor of corpse hiders?"
The strangest question asked during a Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety meeting came from Republican State Rep. Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago).
"Are you in favor of corpse hiders?" Horlacher asked. "Because I'm not."
Horlacher asked his question after State Rep. Fred Kessler, (D-Milwaukee) wondered whether anyone had been sentenced to the 10-year maximum for hiding a corpse. He told Horlacher he did not want people engaged in hiding corpses, but questioned the need for increasing the penalty. The committee was debating Assembly Bill 202, which would ibump the maximum penalty to 12 1/2 years in prison.
The committee recommended adoption on a 11-1 vote.
Gov. Scott Walker's appointment of Rebecca Bradley to the State Supreme Court was the quickest in 50 years.
There were just 18 days between the death of Justice N. Patrick Crooks and Walker's appointment of Bradley. That beats by one day the time lapse between the July 23, 1964 death of Justice William Diederich and Gov. John Reynolds' Aug. 11, 1964 appointment of Nathan S. Heffernan to the high court as Diederich's successor.
The chart below shows the number of days that lapsed between the time that a pending vacancy became public knowledge and the time a replacement appointment was made.
Tammy Loertscher used drugs before she knew she was pregnant, but quit as soon as she found out. Her mistake was being honest with doctors about it. She ended up in jail.
From The Atlantic story:
The local child welfare department appointed a lawyer for Loertscher’s fetus, even though Loertscher did not have a lawyer herself. “I was so upset,” Loertscher says, “And I had no idea how things worked. I’d never been in trouble before.” (Aside from a bounced check charge from several years ago, Loertscher has no criminal record.) Loertscher was brought into a room at the hospital and told the judge was on the phone. She told the judge she didn’t want to speak without a lawyer present and left the room. The judge finished the hearing without her and ordered her to treatment.
“I don’t understand why this is happening,” Loertscher recalls saying at the time. “Since I had the inkling that I was pregnant, I didn’t do anything … They said I was terrible. And I wasn’t.” Remembering that period of time brought her to tears. Loertscher believed going to treatment would require her to admit that she was an addict, which she insisted she wasn’t. And so she was found in contempt of court and incarcerated.
During her 18 days in jail, Loertscher says she received no prenatal care and, when she refused to submit to urine tests, was put in solitary confinement, with nothing but a roll of toilet paper.
Loertscher sued in federal court, alleging the 1997 "cocaine mom" law allowing her jailing is unconstitutional. The state tried and failed to get the suit dismissed. It will continue to move forward.
Municipal Court, for "gain"
The state's largest city "gained" $12.2 million more in forfeitures and other revenue than it spent during the five years ending in 2014, according to a City of Milwaukee Legislative Reference Bureau memo.
The biggest revenue source for the court was forfeitures -- it collected $24.8 million in forfeitures over that time period and $8.6 million in charges for services. It spent a total of $21.1 million over that same time period.
The LRB report did not detail what happened to the Municipal Court "gain."
Grand jury? Good luck with that
State legislators who back dumping the use of John Doe investigations for many alleged crimes argue that the state can use grand juries instead. There are obvious differences between John Doe and grand jury proceedings. In a John Doe, the presiding judge has broad discretion to issue subpoenas and search warrants. In a grand jury, the jurors listen to testimony given by witnesses and can either return and indictment or not.
But good luck getting a grand jury seated in this age of multiple jobs and crazy schedules. Sayeth the law: "Grand jurors shall serve for a period of 31 consecutive days unless more days are necessary to complete service in a particular proceeding." The law allows the presiding judge to discharge a grand jury at any time, but who will be wiling to even entertain the possibility of giving up a month of their lives?
Appeals Court strikes down seizure overreach
The State Court of Appeals this month refused to find it excessive for law enforcement to seize a $22,500 car used in two marijuana sales totaling $115, but did say an innocent woman who had $20,000 invested in the car should get some of her money back.
Gladys Vogel loaned Steve Baumgard $20,000 to buy the car, and Baumgard contributed $2,500 by trading in an old vehicle. Vogel wanted Baumgard to have a car so he would have some way to get to work and school, according District II State Court of Appeals decision.
Baumgard used the car when was made two of three marijuana sales, which involved a total of 10.37 grams of marijuana. Criminal charges related to the three sales were dropped when Baumgard entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.
Baumgard had repaid just $550 of the loan before the car was seized by the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.
Appeals Court Judge Mark D. Gundrum, writing for the court's three-member panel, rejected the argument that seizing a $22,500 car over three drug deals worth a total of $175 was "patently disproportionate to the offense.”
Gundrum was joined in his decision by Judges Paul F. Reilly and Lisa S. Neubauer.
"Each of Baumgard’s sales took place in the middle of the day in parking lots where members of the public would likely be present," Gundrum wrote. "And while we certainly recognize that no direct harm to innocent bystanders occurred on these occasions, Baumgard’s repeated participation in the sale of drugs would harm not only the user of the drugs he sold but society more generally. Additionally, his sales of drugs in such public locations and at such times of day would inherently create at least some safety risk to others."
In addition, Gundrum said, the purpose of the state statute allowing law enforcement to seize vehicles used in drug trafficking is to to "deter drug trafficking by permitting confiscation and forfeiture of the means and mobility used."
"In that Baumgard utilized the Toyota for two of the three felony drug sales for which he was charged, forfeiture of the vehicle is entirely consistent with the purpose of the statute, as is forfeiture of Baumgard’s financial interest in the vehicle, in that forfeiture of that interest will make it more difficult for him to purchase another vehicle for any future illegal drug sales," Gunderson wrote.
Seizing Vogel's interest in the car is another matter, the court said.
"The undisputed testimony was that Vogel had no knowledge of Baumgard’s illegal activity and certainly did not consent to it....As a result, forfeiture of her full financial interest, as the circuit court effectively ordered, is necessarily disproportionate and would amount to an unconstitutionally excessive fine," Gundrum said.
Baumgard's direct financial interest in the car -- $3,050 -- is properly forfeited, Gundrum wrote. Any other proceeds resulting from the sale of the car should go to Vogel.
"This holding balances the purpose of the forfeiture statute with the need to apply the law in a constitutional manner based on the individualized culpability of persons with an ownership interest in the subject property," Gundrum wrote.
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