Wisconsin Supreme Court Accepts State v. Hoppe for Review, on Plea Colloquy Issues

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process, Wisconsin Law & Legal System

Supreme Court sealBeginning with this post, I will report here when the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts new cases for review. I invite your comments.

Last week the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to accept State v. Hoppe for review.  The issue presented, according the court’s press release, is “the extent to which a judge may rely on the contents of a plea questionnaire and waiver of rights form” in lieu of questioning the defendant on the record.  

Hoppe, charged with sexual assault and physical abuse of a child as well as multiple counts of possession of child pornography, agreed to plead guilty to twelve of the child pornography counts, and the State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges.  After being sentenced to twelve years in prison and eighteen years of extended supervision, Hoppe sought to withdraw his guilty pleas, arguing 

that the plea colloquy was defective because the circuit court had merely asked whether he had gone over the plea questionnaire and waiver of rights form with his attorneys and whether he understood the document. Hoppe also claimed that during a short pre-plea meeting with one of his attorneys, he did not personally read the form. He said he was unable to see it as it was read by the attorney, who was seated across the table. In addition, Hoppe said he could not have read the form because he did not have his reading glasses, and even if he did, he would not have understood the substance of the form due to the effect of medication he was taking after hernia surgery. Hoppe also claims his counsel made a “near-promise” that he would receive no more than two years in prison.

The circuit court denied Hoppe’s motion to withdraw the plea, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding “that the circuit court could rely on the plea questionnaire and waiver of rights form to meet the requirements of a plea colloquy because such a document is an intrinsic part of the plea colloquy.”  Briefs in the case should be submitted by mid-November.

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