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Supreme Court accepts one new case

Madison, Wisconsin - July 9, 2009

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to accept one new case and to deny review in a number of other cases. The case numbers, issues, and counties of origin are listed below.

This child sexual-assault case examines whether a defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were sufficient to have the case sent back to the trial court as directed by the Court of Appeals.

Some background: Michael James Carter was charged with sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl. The circuit court denied Carter’s post-conviction motion claiming that his defense counsel was ineffective because he failed to present evidence of a “possible” prior sexual assault of the girl. Carter argued counsel should have done more to investigate and should have offered evidence of the possible prior assault to provide and alternative explanation for the child’s detailed sexual knowledge expressed in her testimony.

The Court of Appeals determined that until further investigation is completed, neither the circuit nor appellate court can determine whether Carter was prejudiced by counsel’s deficient performance.

“The state asks the Supreme Court to review: (1)  if the Court of Appeals improperly sent the case back to the circuit court; (2)  whether Carter failed to show exactly what counsel should have done to uncover evidence of a prior incident; and (3) whether such evidence would have been admissible.”

The post-conviction court found that counsel had reasonably weighed the pros and cons of his legal strategy and that it could not see how the defense counsel could be criticized for not introducing evidence that he concluded would not benefit his legal strategy.
Counsel testified extensively as to his reasons for not seeking to introduce evidence of the possible prior sexual assault. He hired an investigator to try to interview the girl, but her mother did not want the girl to speak with him, counsel said.

Carter criticizes the post-conviction court’s decision, contending the trial court made no explicit finding regarding the admissibility of a prior incident. From Milwaukee County.

Review denied: The Supreme Court denied review in the following cases. Supreme Court review is a matter of judicial discretion, not of right, and will be granted only when special and important reasons are presented. As the state’s law-developing court, the Supreme Court exercises its discretion to consider for review only those cases that fit certain criteria, but these criteria neither control nor fully measure the Court’s discretion (see Wis. Stat. (rule) § 809.62).

2007AP2541   Andrews v. PSC
2007AP2673   PSC v. Andrews - Justice Patience Drake Roggensack dissents

2008AP1003-CR  State v. Bell - Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissents

2008AP1538-FT  Cartlein Inv. v. Boyd - Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson dissents

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