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Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts one new case

Madison, Wisconsin - May 26, 2016

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to accept one new case and acted to deny review in a number of other cases. The case number, county of origin, and issues involved in the granted case are listed below. The synopsis provided is not a complete analysis of the issues presented. More information about any particular case before the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals can be found on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Access website.

2014AP2813-CR State v. Lepsch
This double-homicide case examines the juror selection process and swearing-in procedures for jurors.

Some background: A jury convicted Jeffrey P. Lepsch of fatally shooting two people—a father and son—during a robbery of a family-run photography store in downtown La Crosse in 2012.

Lepsch is serving two mandatory life sentences for first-degree intentional homicide; 25 years of initial confinement and 15 years of extended supervision for armed robbery with use of force; and five years of initial confinement and 15 years of extended supervision for felon in possession of a firearm – with all sentences running consecutively.

Before the prospective jurors arrived in the courtroom for jury voir dire, the clerk of the circuit court administered the oath to the jury venire – the full panel of potential jurors – in a jury assembly room. Following voir dire, each side was allowed, and utilized, six peremptory strikes. Following trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts.

Lepsch filed a postconviction motion for a new trial, contending that he was denied his constitutional rights based on the manner in which the jury venire was sworn prior to jury voir dire, the presence of biased jurors on the jury panel, denial of the proper number of peremptory strikes, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

Following an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied Lepsch's motion for a new trial. Lepsch appealed, unsuccessfully. He argued that the administration of the oath to the jury venire by the clerk of the circuit court in the jury assembly room, outside of his presence, violated his constitutional rights. He also argued that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to an improper jury because the circuit court seated jurors who were both subjectively and objectively biased.

The Court of Appeals disagreed.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, Lepsch continues to argue that the prospective jurors were sworn in improperly. He also argues that "[f]or each of the nine (9) jurors which Lepsch claims were not impartial, the proper 6th Amendment inquiry" – which he says is required by Patton v. Yount, 467 U.S. 1025 (1984) – called for the circuit court to "examine what each juror said during voir dire and determine if the juror specifically swore that he could 1) set aside his opinion and 2) decide the case on the evidence." Not doing so, Lepsch claims, was in conflict with decisions such as Patton and Oswald v. Bertrand, 249 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (E.D. Wis. 2003).

A decision in this case could help clarify the standards for evaluating a juror's impartiality and for administering the oath to prospective jurors. From La Crosse County.

Review denied: The Supreme Court denied review in the following cases. As the state's law-developing court, the Supreme Court exercises its discretion to select for review only those cases that fit certain statutory criteria (see Wis. Stat. § 809.62). Except where indicated, these cases came to the Court via petition for review by the party who lost in the lower court:

2015AP138-CR State v. Williams

2014AP224-CR State v. Gibson
2014AP2136-NM State v. Mitchell
2014AP2174-CR State v. Martin
2014AP2257-CR State v. Barlow
2014AP2507 Young v. Landstar Investments

2014AP2725-CR State v. Davis
2015AP1503 State v. Skamfer

2015AP69 State v. Hollenbeck

2014AP624-CR State v. Scoles

2014AP1965-66-CR State v. Patton

2015AP1444-AC Vance v. Town of Cleveland Board of Canvassers

2015AP118-CR State v. Sennholz
2015AP409-CR State v. McGuire
2015XX1445-CR State v. Thompson - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.

La Crosse
2014AP2180-CR State v. McCann
2015AP17 Huiras v. Huiras
2015AP126 Park Bank v. Jackson
2015AP1213 Miller v. Mayo Health System

2014AP2949 Kikkert v. Saunders

2013AP1506-CRNM State v. Lemere

2014AP1131 Carini v. ProHealth
2014AP1459-CRNM State V. Carter - Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack did not participate.
2014AP1780 Hying v. Hying
2014AP2938-CR State v. Torres
2014AP2974 State v. Joseph - Justice Rebecca G. Bradley did not participate.
2015AP71-CR State v. Rushing
2015AP263-CR State v. Dangerfield
2015AP454 State v. Bishop - Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack did not participate.
2015AP530-CR State v. Pollard
2015AP533-CRNM State v. Anderson - Justice Rebecca G. Bradley did not participate.
2015AP563-CR State v. Clincy
2015AP625 State v. M.E.-T.
2015AP707 State v. J.S. - Justice Rebecca G. Bradley did not participate.
2015AP712-CR State v. Morales
2015AP952-CR State v. Blackburn
2015AP975 State v. Harris
2015AP1361-62-CR State v. Tate
2015AP1634 State v. D.S. - Justice Rebecca G. Bradley did not participate.
2015AP2000-W Azizi v. Smith
2015AP2373-W Telfered v. Hepp
2016AP578-W Coleman v. Cir. Ct. for Milwaukee Co.

2015AP1280 Ripco Credit Union v. Kennedy

2014AP2848-CR State v. Strong
2015AP478-CR State v. Givens

2015AP994-CR State v. Ziehr

2015AP434-CR State v. Jackson - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.
2015AP485 State v. Varellas
2015AP849-CR State v. Redick
2015AP1095-CR State v. Kemp

2015AP217 U.S. Bank National Association v. Westlund

St. Croix
2015AP769 Rickard v. Schottler
2015AP1129-CR State v. Krumrey

2016AP438-W Wilmot v. Drettwan

2014AP2189-CR State v. Cabrera-Garcia

2015AP20 Fricano v. Bank of Am.

2014AP1227 State v. Sanderfoot
2015AP21-CR State v. Radaj

Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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