Sunday, May 31, 2009


While the big news out of Washington, D.C. this week was the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor by the President for the Supreme Court, locally the significant question of who will replace Judge Shabaz and the three open circuit court judgeships moved forward.  Louis Butler and William Conley were recommended by Senators Kohl and Feingold to the White House to replace Judge Shabaz.  One of the key issues being discussed by local lawyers is how will the new judge view the rocket docket?  The general position of criminal defense lawyers is well known.   It must be tempered if not eliminated.  Speed for speed's sake does not mean justice.  In contrast, the Western District Bar Association published a letter in its recent newsletter asking the Federal Nominating Panel to include among the individuals recommended to the Senators, a lawyer who values the rocket docket.  

Of the original 28 applicants for the 3 open judgeships in Dane County, 14 remained as of this past Wednesday.  Those 14 were interviewed by the selection panel last week.  Due to his recent race for Judge Nowakowski's open seat, AUSA Stephen Ehlke is viewed by most as a favorite for one of the three positions.  It's anyone's guess for the other two.

Front and center this past week, however, was the Supreme Court's decision in Montejo v. Louisiana.  While the ultimate import of this decision will work its way out in the upcoming years, the 5 person majority explicitly overruled Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625 (1986) demonstrating once again the triumph of that group of legal theorists who advocate for the demise of evidence suppression as a remedy for constitutional violations.  I believe that the best comment about the decision and its impact on the criminal defense practice was made by Bill Tyroler.  Bill opined: Out the window, such cases as:State v. Todd Dagnall, 2000 WI 82, ¶4 (“We hold that Dagnall was not required to invoke the right to counsel in this case because he had been formally charged with a crime and counsel had been retained to represent him on that charge.”); State v. James H. Hornung, 229 Wis.2d 469, 600 N.W.2d 264 (Ct. App. 1999) (“the strict requirements for ‘unequivocally and unambiguously’ asserting one's right to counsel under the Fifth Amendment are somewhat less stringent under the Sixth Amendment.”). As a matter of pragmatics, it’s probably fair to suppose an increase in efforts at post-charging interrogation.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Dedicated to the protection of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, this blog will attempt to keep readers up to speed on the latest in all matters related to the rights guaranteed by this Amendment.  I will not attempt to duplicate those blogs such as the The Confrontation Blog but rather focus on matters pertinent to this geographical area of the state in both federal and state court. As always I welcome your comments and thoughts.