Wisconsin Supreme Court Accepts Three New Cases, Including a Case That Will Determine Whether a Crime with No Sexual Component May Trigger Sex Offender Registration Requirements

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Tort Law, Wisconsin Civil Litigation, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process, Wisconsin Law & Legal System, Wisconsin Supreme Court

 

Supreme Court sealToday the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted three new cases for review, two criminal cases and one civil case.

One of the criminal cases, State v. Smith, 2008AP1011, asks the court to determine whether the sex offender registration statute, Wisconsin Statute section 301.45, is unconstitutional in its application to a defendant whose crime, false imprisonment of a minor, concededly had no sexual component whatsoever.  The Defendant Smith was convicted of falsely imprisoning a minor in connection with a drug crime.  That conviction triggered application of the sex offender registration requirements in section 301.45.  Smith did not register, and was charged with failing to register as required.  He argues that the sex offender registration requirement violates his due process and equal protection rights because his crime had no sexual component.

The Defendant in the other criminal case, State v. Allen, 2007AP795, argues that, even though he did not respond to his postconviction counsel’s no-merit report, his claims that his pretrial counsel was ineffective should be heard in a new postconviction motion.  Allen argues that he should have a chance to file this additional postconviction motion because his postconviction counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issues regarding the pretrial counsel’s ineffective assistance.  In an unpublished decision, the court of appeals rejected Allen’s argument, pointing out that Allen had the chance to make these arguments in response to the no-merit report.

In the third case, a civil matter, Colleen Pawloski, who suffered a dog bite from a dog owned by a man named Walter Waterman, is suing Nancy L. Seefeldt and her husband, and their insurer, because they owned the home where Waterman resided with his dogs at the time the bite occurred.  See Pawlowski v. American Family Ins., 2007AP2651. The circuit court held that Seefeldt could not be liable because at the instant when the dog bit Pawlowski, Seefeldt was not its “keeper” because its owner, Waterman, was the one “exercis[ing] dominion” over the dog. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Seefeldt was the dog’s “keeper” at the time of the bite, because she was providing it a home.  The Supreme Court is asked to resolve this question of interpretation of the dogbite statute, Wisconsin Statute section 174.02.

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