By Gretchen Schuldt
A Rock County judge blew off an appeals court order for a new trial and instead sentenced a man on a charge that was already dismissed, according to a new appeal.
The state has not yet responded in the case.
The defendant, Carl Lee McAdory, "must now face the fact that winning one battle does not mean victory in war," Circuit Judge Karl Hanson said in granting the prosecutor's motion to reinstate the dismissed charge.
Hanson eventually sentenced McAdory to three years of incarceration followed by six years of extended supervision. Hanson also vacated the charge on which McAdory originally had been sentenced and for which a District IV Court of Appeals panel ordered a new trial.
McAdory was charged with eighth-offense operating under the influence and eighth-offense operating with a restricted controlled substance. Blood testing showed he had cocaine and marijuana in his system when he was arrested. A jury found him guilty on both counts. Because the counts duplicated each other and the law says McAdory could only be sentenced on one, the prosecutor moved to dismiss the latter charge.
In ordering a new trial, the Court of Appeals found that the state repeatedly misled the jury about what the state had to prove for a conviction on the under-the-influence charge. The law requires a showing that there were enough drugs in McAdory's system to actually impair his driving. That law is different than the restricted-controlled-substances law, which makes it illegal to drive with any detectable amount of drugs in the blood, whether or not it actually affects the person's driving ability.
In addition, Circuit Judge John M. Wood, who presided over the trial, eliminated part of the jury instructions that made clear what was required for conviction on the under-the-influence charge, according to court documents.
The appellate court noted that the Circuit Court prosecutor could have avoided the entire issue if she had dismissed the impaired driving offense and stuck with the easier-to-prove restricted-substances offense. The panel even held oral argument to discuss the dismissal of that charge.
The appeals panel sent the case back to Rock County for a new trial, McAdory's lawyer, Brent A. Simerson, wrote in a brief filed in the new appeal.
"However, a new trial was never convened," Simerson wrote. Instead, at the request of the state, Hanson vacated the under-the-influence count, on which McAdory had been sentenced, reinstated the dismissed restricted-controlled-substances conviction, and sentenced McAdory to three years in prison and six years of supervised release.
Hanson said the appellate court did not find any error in how the restricted-controlled-substances charge was handled, Simerson wrote. The judge also said that McAdory “ 'had no expectation of finality in his case when the trial court imposed a sentence only on count [one], the OWI conviction,' ” Simerson wrote.
But Hanson exceeded his authority when he ignored the appeals panel's order for a new trial, Simerson said. State law requires trial judges to do what appellate courts tell them to do. The law also requires circuit judges to schedule trials when an appellate court orders new ones, he wrote. And, as the state conceded, nothing in state law authorized the reinstatement of the charge, Simerson wrote.
"Absent a source of authority in Wisconsin law, the Circuit Court should have, instead, concluded that it did not have the authority to revisit Mr. McAdory’s judgment of conviction," he said. Instead, the court should have pursued any relief through the appeals process.
Reinstating the conviction also violated double-jeopardy protection, Simerson said. Jeopardy generally attaches after a jury is empaneled and sworn and prohibits a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, he said.
"Under the Circuit Court’s decision, the state could wait indefinitely long before asking the Circuit Court to 'reinstate' a charge," he said. "After all, what limitations period would govern? Without an endpoint specified by law, the timing would be left to the vagaries of prosecutorial whim. All the while, the defendant would be forced to live his life in fear, worry, and frustration about when, if ever, the State might suddenly decide to file its reinstatement motion. This cannot be."
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