The Curious Nature of Expunged Offenses

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on The Curious Nature of Expunged Offenses

Roughly six years ago the Wisconsin Legislature amended the expunction statute to permit certain felonies to be expunged. At the same time, the Legislature also permitted expunction for older offenders. Previously, defendants had to be under 21 to secure the benefits of expunction. Under the newly revised statute, defendants under 25 could now have certain crimes removed from their record.

Since the expunction statute was altered, Wisconsin law has been in disarray when it comes to analyzing the framework of expunction. For decades, judges had always “reserved” a defendant’s right to seek expunction. This was logical – judges naturally wanted to see how a defendant would do on probation before making the final decision. But the Court of Appeals, in an unfortunate ruling, found that the expunction statute barred such an approach. Now, judges have to do their best to analyze the proverbial “crystal ball,” making the decision to confer expunction at the time of sentencing, as opposed to making the decision after two or three years of probation. Continue reading “The Curious Nature of Expunged Offenses”

After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments

Statue entitled "The Spirit of Justice" outside of the Rayburn Huse Office Building in Washington, D.C., showing a seated woman with a small child.I’ve been asked to be the alumni blogger for the month of May. It’s about time!

For those who don’t know me, I am a criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin. I am currently the President of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL). Because of this position, and the fact that I’ve practiced exclusively in the criminal defense field for 12 years, my posts will generally focus on defense-related issues.

In that vein, perhaps the most pressing criminal defense-related issue in Wisconsin remains the unconscionably low rate of compensation paid to lawyers who take appointments from the State Public Defender’s Office (SPD).

Here’s the nutshell version of what currently happens. Indigent defendants are constitutionally guaranteed representation by lawyers who work for the SPD. But the SPD obviously can’t handle all of the cases assigned to the agency. For one, there are cases with co-defendants, where ethical rules preventing conflicts of interest would preclude one “firm” from representing both defendants. In other situations, a flood of criminal prosecutions renders the SPD staff unable to handle all of the cases. Consequently, private attorneys will sometimes step up to the plate, and agree to take these cases.

These cases, known as SPD appointments, are paid at a rate of $40 an hour. Continue reading “After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments”