November Decisions from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals took on a wide variety of criminal and civil cases last month, issuing more than fifty decisions. Following are summaries of three of the decisions.

State v. Redmond – This case arose from Mr. Redmond’s convictions for kidnapping and false imprisonment. At trial, the jury did not reach a consensus regarding a sexual assault charge against Mr. Redmond. Thereafter, Mr. Redmond brought three challenges. First, he moved for waiver of the DNA surcharge. Second, he challenged the sex offender registration requirement because the sexual assault charge did not result in conviction. The second challenge was resolved in accordance with Wis. Stat. § 301.45(1d)(b) which states that a “sex offense” includes kidnapping and false imprisonment of a minor by a non-parent. Thus, Mr. Redmond’s convictions were “sex offenses” even though the sexual assault was not proved. In short, the second challenge failed. When Redmond brought his third challenge, a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 974.06, the circuit court refused to hear it because, it said, Redmond should have raised this motion when he moved for waiver of the DNA surcharge. The Court of Appeals affirmed, in part, holding that Redmond was procedurally barred from bringing the § 974.06 challenge because he failed to do so when he challenged his sex offender registration. Redmond was not required to pursue post-conviction relief at the same time he requested waiver of the DNA surcharge but he was required to pursue § 974.06 when he challenged the sex offender registration requirement. The take-home lesson is that it is best practice to assert post-conviction motions simultaneously in order to avoid this procedural bar.

State v. Niko C. – Niko C., a minor, pled guilty to first degree sexual assault. At the circuit court level, he requested that registration in the state’s juvenile sex offender registry be stayed. The juvenile sex offender registry is not public like its adult counterpart. Due to the registry’s private nature and the violence associated with the crime, the court refused to stay Niko C.’s placement on the juvenile sex offender registry. On appeal, Niko C. argued the circuit court judge abused his discretion by failing to consider the factors in Wis. Stat. § 938.34(15m)(bm) before requiring registration. The Court of Appeals disagreed. Although the circuit court recognized that Niko C. was at low risk to re-offend, still, the serious nature of the offense convinced the court that a stay would not be appropriate.

St. Paul Veterinary Clinic v. Labor and Industry Review Commission – Yvonne Chojnacki, a veterinary assistant at St. Paul Veterinary Clinic, sustained a low back injury while lifting a 40lb. pit bull in preparation for surgery. After initial treatment, Ms. Chojnacki returned to work but continued to experience symptoms. Eventually, in 2005, her doctor performed an invasive low back surgery. The treating doctor concluded the work injury contributed to Ms. Chojnacki’s pre-existing condition and was responsible for her ongoing medical needs. A second invasive low back surgery was undertaken in 2007. Society Insurance had Ms. Chojnacki independently examined on 4 occasions by Dr. Orth who opined work injury temporarily aggravated a pre-existing low back condition. Based on this opinion, Society Insurance denied responsibility for Ms. Chojnacki’s ongoing medical expenses. An administrative law judge heard the case and determined that the treating doctor’s opinions were more credible than the independent medical examiner’s and the Labor and Industry Review Commission affirmed. The Court of Appeals relied on its standard of review in resolving the claim stating that the Commission is the sole judge of the weight and credibility of medical evidence. Because LIRC’s determination relied on substantial supporting evidence, the Court of Appeals affirmed.