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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 2, February 2004

    Legal 
News & Trends

    Task force forms to avert miscarriages of justice

    Steve Avery spent 17-plus years behind bars for a sexual assault that he did not commit. With the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, codirected by State Bar Criminal Law Section board member Keith Findley, Avery was finally cleared this year when DNA evidence confirmed another man committed the crime. What went wrong? How can the criminal justice system be reformed to avert such miscarriages of justice? That will be the focus of a newly formed special task force, named for Avery whose wrongful conviction riveted public attention.

    Spearheaded by Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin), an attorney and the chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, the Avery Task Force has a diverse membership, including judges, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement officials from across the state, and legislators with criminal justice backgrounds. The task force will review Wisconsin practices and procedures to see what improvements can be made in the administration of justice.

    The task force first met on Dec. 22 and heard testimony from Avery and his attorneys who pointed to perceived flaws in the way the case was handled by law enforcement and the district attorney's office. The speakers cited problems with lineup procedures, lack of information sharing by law enforcement agencies, and failure to consider as a viable suspect the man who years later was linked by DNA evidence to the crime. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager reviewed the Avery case and determined that "there is no basis to bring criminal charges or assert ethics violations against anyone involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case."

    The task force likely will meet again in February and hear from experts on the problems with eyewitness identification of suspects. Recommendations for reforming the state's criminal justice system may be made as early as December 2004.

    The task force follows on the heels of a proposal by the State Bar's Criminal Law Section to create a Justice Commission to study Wisconsin's criminal justice system, with the goal of enhancing its reliability, effectiveness, and fairness. Under the proposal, the commission would draw upon the expertise of various stakeholders and examine wrongful convictions both in Wisconsin and in other jurisdictions to identify problems and propose solutions.

    Revisor of Statutes Bureau adds old Wisconsin Acts to Web site

    The complete Laws of Wisconsin from 1969 to present and Wisconsin Statutes from 1989 to present are available at the Revisor of Statutes Bureau Web site.

    "We recently began scanning the 1969 to 1987 statutes and are posting them to our Web site as they become available," says Deputy Revisor of Statutes Bruce Hoesly. "It is the intent of the Revisor's Bureau that editions of the Laws and Statutes, as far back as 1848, will be placed on the Web, as well as all prior versions of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, plus the rule orders that create or revise the codes, currently on file in our office. Documents will be added as we are able to complete the scanning. There is no definite schedule in place."

    Most documents are produced in either Folio Site Director or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) formats, or both. Folio Site Director allows users to access particular statutes or administrative code sections or parts, perform word searches, or copy text to another file. The PDF format is best for viewing or printing an entire statute or code chapter, but does not allow searching in more than one chapter at a time.

    In the Folio version of the statutes, all references to old Acts in the history notes, which start with the 1971 laws, are linked directly to the appropriate Acts. In the Folio version of the Administrative Code, history notes contain links to rule orders beginning in 2001 and links are being added to the Wisconsin Administrative Register, which beginning in 2001 contain links to the code that has been replaced.

    The Revisor of Statutes Bureau edits and publishes the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, prepares revision and corrections bills, edits and publishes the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Register, and performs related law publishing and advisory functions.

    For more information visit www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb or contact Hoesly at bruce.hoesly@legis.state.wi.us or (608) 266-7590.




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