Attorney Penix Argues Before the Seventh Circuit

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - June 28, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Uncategorized

On January 19, 2017, managing attorney Kimberly Penix argued before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on behalf of plaintiff-appellant in Sabina Burton v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, et. al. The primary issue in the case was whether Burton was entitled to relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While there is no video of the case, the audio is available here:

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/sound/2017/ab.16-2982.16-2982_01_19_2017.mp3

On March 17, 2017, the Court of Appeals entered a decision affirming the judgment of the district court.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman law Firm today for your free consultation.



Weighing the Risks of Requesting a New Trial

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - February 17, 2016 - Uncategorized

A motion for a new trial is a common post-conviction motion that asks a reviewing court to overturn a judge’s order or a jury’s verdict, thereby putting the defendant in the position he was in prior to the start of trial.

In Wisconsin, the availability of a new trial is governed by Wis. Stat. §805.15, which provides that an individual may request a new trial where:

  • There were errors in the trial
  • The verdict is contrary to law or to the weight of evidence
  • There were excessive or inadequate damages
  • There is newly-discovered evidence
  • The interests of justice require a new trial

Wis. Stat. §805.15(1). In Colorado, motions for a new trial are governed under Colo. Crim. P. 33. This statute allows an individual to request a new trial where:

  • The interests of justice require a new trial
  • There is newly-discovered evidence

A motion for a new trial based on the interests of justice must be filed within 14 days following the verdict. Colo. Crim. P. 33(c). A motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence must be filed as soon as the new evidence becomes known to the defendant. Colo. Crim. P. 33(c).

Before requesting a new trial, the defendant must consider the potential risks. For example, a defendant could be convicted of the same crimes and receive a greater sentence. Additionally, if there is sufficient evidence to add additional charges before the second trial, the State may do so. Therefore, it is very important to review the potential risks of requesting a new trial before motioning for one.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of a new trial in your case, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).



What Materials Do Appellate Attorneys Rely On?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - January 20, 2016 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals, Practice

Whether you privately retain an appellate attorney or are appointed one by the court, one of the first things your appellate attorney will request is the entire case file. Many people are surprised to find that it can cost hundreds of dollars to obtain all documents in a case file. This often prompts individuals to wonder, what does an appellate attorney really need? In short, the answer is usually everything.

Appellate attorneys review cases to determine whether there are grounds for appeal – such as errors made by an attorney, the judge, or the jury – from which to request post-conviction relief. In order to find every potential issue, the attorney must review the entire record. This includes:

  • The full court record, including all pleadings, minutes, and orders,
  • The full trial attorney file, including discovery, notes, correspondence, and documentation related to past convictions (if any), and
  • Transcripts of every hearing that was recorded, such as pretrial, plea, sentencing, and trial hearings.

Each of these items carry their own significance. For example, pleadings contained in the court file reveal what issues existed at the trial level, and how they were resolved. Additionally, if there was a trial, the trial transcripts reveal important details such as what objections were made and how they were handled.

These materials are vital to an appeal because appeals are based completely on the record. Every fact within an appeal must have a corresponding citation to a document in the record. Except in limited circumstances, appellate courts will not consider new witnesses or new evidence.

Additionally, appellate attorneys often discuss the case with the trial level attorney, as well. These conversations are important because the trial level attorney will likely already have ideas as to what issues there may be for appeal.

Perhaps most importantly, appellate attorneys rely on conversations with you, the client. Conversations with the client inform the attorney of what the goal of appellate representation should be, and provide important insight and details on the case.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).

 

 



But What do I Win? Remedies on Appeal in Criminal Cases

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - December 22, 2015 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals, Practice, Uncategorized

In the majority of criminal cases, a successful appeal or post-conviction motion is not the end of a criminal case. In fact, most post-conviction motions and appeals request specific relief that prolongs the case further, such as a new trial, a new sentencing hearing, or the withdrawal of a plea and the opportunity to go to trial. Following is a discussion of some potential outcomes of a successful post-conviction motion or appeal.

New Trial

If the reviewing court orders a new trial, the defendant is put in the same position he was in prior to the start of the original trial. The State may attempt to negotiate a plea bargain to avoid a second trial, however it is not required to do so. When requesting a new trial, it is important for the defendant to consider that vacated charges will be reinstated. Further, there is a possibility that he will receive the same convictions – or more – and/or a harsher sentence (assuming he did not receive a maximum sentence on all charged counts in the initial trial).

Re-Sentencing

If the reviewing court affirms a conviction but finds issue with the sentence, it may vacate the sentence and order re-sentencing. This can happen in a variety of situations, such as where the reviewing court determines that a sentence is unreasonable, the sentencing court considered incorrect information, or where the sentence falls outside of statutory sentencing guidelines. An order for re-sentencing puts the defendant back in the position he was in immediately following the criminal conviction, so the defendant can receive any sentence authorized by law.

Vacating the Plea

Where a defendant is successful in arguing that he should be permitted to withdraw his plea, the reviewing court can order that the plea be vacated. This puts the defendant in the same position he was in prior to accepting the plea. As with an order for a new trial, the State may attempt to negotiate a plea bargain, but is not required to do so. If a new plea bargain is not reached, the case will proceed to trial. As with a new trial or re-sentencing, the defendant can receive any sentence which was authorized by law at the point before the plea was entered.

While these are common remedies after a successful post-conviction motion or appeal, they are not the only remedies available.  To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your post-conviction options, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).



My Time For a Criminal Appeal Has Expired, Now What?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - November 18, 2015 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals, Federal Appeals

A defendant who wishes to appeal a criminal conviction must inform the court of his intention by filing a notice of appeal. The notice of appeal sets into motion  deadlines for various other events, leading up to the deadline to file the appellate brief. While this deadline may be extended as necessary (for more information on extending the deadline to file the appellant’s brief, read our post, How Can I Get an Extension of Time to Appeal?), in some cases defendants or their attorneys allow it to lapse.

The good news is there are options through which a defendant can attempt to seek appellate relief after the time for filing an appellate brief has expired. This post discusses three of these options.

Motion to Extend Time to File Post-Conviction Motion or Appeal

Both Wisconsin and Colorado allow defendants to seek a motion to extend the deadline to file an appeal, even after this deadline has expired. In these states, defendants must submit a motion under either Wis. Stat. § 809.82(2)(a) or C.A.R. 26(b), respectively, and the motion must state good cause for the requested extension. The threshold for good cause is higher where the motion is filed after the relevant deadline has expired. The result of a successful motion for extension is the reinstatement of a defendant’s direct appellate rights.

State Collateral Attack

Through a state collateral attack, a defendant can challenge a conviction after the time for a direct appeal has expired. In Wisconsin, collateral attacks are governed under Wis. Stat. §974.06, which provides that a defendant may pursue a collateral attack where he is in “custody” as defined by the statute, and argues that: (1) the sentence violates of the state or federal constitution, (2) the court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence, or (3) the sentence exceeds the maximum legal sentence.

In Colorado, collateral attacks are governed under C.R.S. §16-5-402. This statute imposes important deadlines on the filing of a collateral attack, depending on the type of conviction the defendant is attacking:

  • Class 1 felonies: No limit
  • All other felonies: Three years from the date of conviction
  • Misdemeanor offenses: Eighteen months from the date of conviction
  • Petty offenses: Six months from the date of conviction

As with Wisconsin collateral attacks, a Colorado defendant must allege that his conviction is in violation of the state or federal constitution.

Motion for Federal Habeas Corpus

A third option for post-conviction relief following the expiration of a defendant’s direct appeal rights is filing a motion for federal habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) requires that a federal habeas corpus petition allege that the defendant is  in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Additionally, a defendant may not file a petition for federal habeas relief unless he has either previously exhausted all state remedies available to him, or shows that the state corrective process is either ineffective or non-existent. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b).

In most cases, it is best to attempt to reinstate your direct appeal rights before pursuing an alternative option. To  speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your post-conviction options, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).

 

 



Can my Criminal Record be Expunged?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - October 21, 2015 - Uncategorized

Why Expungement?

Due to the public nature of most criminal court records, a single bad decision can result in a permanent, detrimental mark on a person’s record. Some states make these records more readily available than others. For example, individuals can search and view Wisconsin criminal records online, for free, through “Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access.” Colorado does not have a similar free database, however interested persons can search Colorado records online through paid vendors. In any state, individuals can also go to the clerk of court and request to view or copy a criminal record.

What is Expungement?

Due the detrimental nature of having a public criminal record, most States offer a procedure for having certain records expunged. Through engagement, a criminal case file is sealed, and cannot be viewed without a court order.

Am I Eligible for Expungement?

Wisconsin law allows expungement in two main situations:

1) Youthful offenders – Wis. Stat. §973.015

At the time of sentencing, a court may order that a record be expunged upon successful completion of the sentence where: (1) the offender is under the age of 25 at the time of the commission of the offense, (2) the offense carries a maximum imprisonment of 6 years or less, and (3) the court determines that the offender will benefit and society will not be harmed by the expungement.

If the offender was placed on probation or sentenced to serve jail or prison time, the clerk will automatically have the record expunged following successful completion of the sentence. Conversely, if the offender was only sentenced to pay a fine or restitution, the offender must request expumgement, upon successful completion of the sentence, using form CR-266.

2) Juvenile offenders under age 17 – Wis. Stat. §938.355(4m)

Upon turning 17, an offender who has been adjudged delinquent as a juvenile may petition the court for expungement of the juvenile adjudication where: (1)  he has complied with the conditions of the dispositional order, and (2) the court determines that the juvenile will benefit from, and society will not be harmed by, the expungement.

To request expungement under this circumstance, an individual must file form JD-1780.

The court may also expunge a criminal record where an offender committed a commercial sex act as a victim of human trafficking under Wis. Stat. §973.015(2m). Beyond thee three situations, a judge has no authority to expunge any other type of record.

Colorado law only allows expungement in two circumstances:

1) Juvenile records (Under the age of 18) – §19-1-306, C.R.S.

Juvenile records may be expunged unless: (1) the offender committed an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior, (2) the offender was adjudicated as an aggravated or violent juvenile offender, (3) the offender received an adult sentence, or (4) the offender failed to pay restitution stemming from a juvenile conviction.

If these circumstances are not present, a juvenile offender may request to have his record expunged by filing a Petition for Expungement of Record, form JDF-302, available here. Depending on the case, the offender may be able to file the petition immediately, or may have to wait up to five years. To determine when a petition can be filed in your case, review form JDF-301, available here.

2) Underage Drinking and Driving – §42-4-1715, C.R.S.

Underage drinking and driving records may be expunged where the offender: (1) had a BAC between 0.02 and 0.05, (2) is over age 21 at the time of the expungement request, (3) has not been convicted for any other DUI offense while under the age of 21, (4) has paid any fines and has completed any requirements of his conviction, (5) has never held a commercial driver’s license, and (6) was not operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time he committed the offense.

An eligible offender may request expungement by filing form JDF-305, available here.

If your conviction does not qualify for expungement, you may have the option of requesting that your case be sealed. To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your expungement options, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).



How to File a State Habeas Corpus Petition

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - September 22, 2015 - Appeals, Criminal Appeals

78486578This post considers the process of filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state court. For an overview of federal habeas corpus, review our recent post, “Petitioning for Federal Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.”

In addition to being able to file a petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus relief, state prisoners also have the option to file a petition for a writ of state habeas corpus relief.  The procedures and process of seeking state habeas corpus are governed by state statues, and vary by state.

There are several requirements that must be met in order to file a petition for state habeas corpus relief:

  1. The petitioner must be incarcerated,
  2. The petitioner must have no other state remedy available to him (either through exhaustion or expiration), and
  3. The petitioner must allege that he is entitled to immediate release.

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus asks the reviewing court to answer one question – is an incarceration legal. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not an opportunity for a court to reconsider the guilt or innocence of a prisoner. Rather, a reviewing court will evaluate the procedures used to convict and sentence a prisoner.

Prisoners do not have a constitutional right to the assistance of counsel for state habeas corpus proceedings. However, certain states including Colorado provide prisoners with the right to the assistance of counsel at certain habeas corpus hearings. In Wisconsin, petitioners can file a “Motion for Appointment of Counsel” to request appointed counsel for a habeas corpus proceeding, however there is no guarantee of appointment.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about state habeas corpus relief, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).



What is a Writ of Error Coram Nobis?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - August 27, 2015 - Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

Image result for courtEveryone makes mistakes, even judges. If a trial court makes an error related to fact so substantial and critical that the outcome of the case would have been different, a party may seek a writ of error coram nobis. The kind of error which might result in such a writ is if the court made a mistake as to a victim’s age and imposed a conviction and judgment dependent upon that mistake (say, for example, if the court thought the victim was a minor and she was not).

A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinary remedy of very limited scope. Jessen v. State, 95 Wis.2d 207, 213, 290 N.W.2d 685 (1980). It is addressed to the trial court, and provides the trial court the opportunity to correct its own record. In Wisconsin, a party seeking a writ of error coram nobis must establish three factors:

(1) that no other remedy is available,

(2) that the factual error he wishes to correct is crucial to the ultimate judgment, and

(3) the factual finding to which the alleged factual error is directed must not have been previously visited or passed on by the trial court.

See State v. Heimermann, 205 Wis. 2d 376, 384, 556 N.W.2d 756 (Ct. App. 1996). The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has interpreted the first factor to mean that people in custody cannot seek a writ of error coram nobis because, if they are, Wis. Stat. § 974.06 provides them a remedy. Id. Additionally, the requirement that the error has not previously been visited precludes most errors because attorneys are quick to bring important errors to the court’s attention through various avenues such as objections and post-conviction motions.

In Colorado, the writ of error coram nobis is perhaps even more rare. The Colorado Supreme Court once described this writ as “ancient . . . almost obsolete.” Hackett v. People, 406 P.2d 331, 158 Colo. 304 (Colo., 1965). The Hackett court explained that litigants should instead seek relief through a motion to set aside judgment.

Due to the limited scope of a writ of error coram nobis, this remedy is extremely rare. In most cases, an alternative post-conviction remedy will better serve a persons needs. To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your post-conviction options, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).



Sentence Reductions Under Wis. Stat. §973.19(1)(a)

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - July 30, 2015 - Criminal Appeals

imagesMany incarcerated people share the same goal: to have their sentence reduced. While filing an appeal can eventually have this result, Wis. Stat.§ 973.19(1)(a) provides a  fast track for incarcerated persons to request a sentence modification before engaging in more timely litigation.

Wis. Stat.§ 973.19(1)(a) provides that, after being sentenced, a person may move the court to modify his sentence where two factors are met:

(1) he has not yet ordered case transcripts, and

(2) he files his request within 90 days after the sentence or order is entered.

See Wis. Stat. § 973.19(1)(a). The benefit of filing a motion for sentence reduction under this statute is that, because the procedure does not constitute a “full blown appeal,” the person will likely obtain a faster decision from the trial court. However, it is important to consider that, by proceeding under Wis. Stat.§ 973.19(1)(a), a forfeits his opportunity to take a “full blown appeal” wherein he can challenge the issues as well as request a sentence modification.

Because it requires the forfeiture of such a substantial right, a sentence reduction under Wis. Stat. § 973.19(1)(a) is only appropriate where the sole claim for postconviction relief relates to the severity of the sentence. In all other instances, an appeal will likely be more appropriate.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of a sentence modification, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).

 

 



How to File a Federal Habeas Corpus Petition

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - June 24, 2015 - Criminal Appeals, Federal Appeals

prisonerWhere a prisoner believes that his incarceration violates federal law, he  may petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Federal habeas petitions are often filed as a lest resort after a prisoner has exhausted all other potential remedies.

In order to be considered, a federal habeas petition must allege very specific grounds. According to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), the petition must allege that the prisoner is in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Additionally, a prisoner may not file a petition for federal habeas relief unless he has either previously exhausted all state remedies available to him, or shows either that the state corrective process is ineffective or non-existent. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b).

Because such a petition initiates a federal proceeding, state prisoners must allege a violation of the US Constitution. Examples of common constitutional violations include:

  • Violation of a defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to counsel due to ineffective assistance of counsel;
  • Violation of a defendant’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights due to an improperly obtained confession; and
  • Violation of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial by a fair and impartial jury due to a biased juror, unconstitutional jury instructions, or insufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict.

Alternatively, federal prisoners may petition for federal habeas relief based on violations of the Constitution, or various other federal laws. A successful federal habeas petition may result in a new trial, new sentencing hearing, or even the prisoner’s immediate release.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of federal habeas relief, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation at (855) 973-4169.