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  • Rotunda Report
    September 25, 2013

    Criminal Procedure Code Sees New Light, After Decades in Dark

    Sept. 25, 2013 – Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin are closely monitoring a newly introduced bill that would reorganize most chapters of the criminal procedure code, as well as create new authority for courts and codify some current practices.

    State Bar members and the general public will have an opportunity to learn more about this bill during an informational hearing in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at 1 p.m. in State Capitol Room 412 East. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 11, 2013, at Marquette University Law School. 

    Assembly Bill 383 was introduced by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) at the request of the Wisconsin Judicial Council, a group of 21 members, whose statutory charge is to study and make recommendations about court operation, practice and procedure.

    Judicial Council members include a Supreme Court justice; a Court of Appeals judge; four circuit court judges; one district attorney; three members of the State Bar; two citizen members; and all of the following individuals (or their designees): the Director of State Courts, the chairs of the Senate and Assembly standing committees with jurisdiction over judicial affairs, the Attorney General, the chief of the Legislative Reference Bureau, the deans of the law schools of the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University, the State Public Defender, and the president-elect of the State Bar.

    Katie StenzKatie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.

    The bill, which has been in the works for more than twenty years – thanks to the diligent work of the Judicial Council’s Criminal Procedure Committee – will make several updates and changes to many of the chapters and subchapters of the criminal procedure code.

    An analysis conducted by the Legislative Reference Bureau provides the bill would reorganize each chapter of the criminal procedure code, except for the chapter on sentencing – chapter 973. The LRB also notes that the bill creates “subchapters in long chapters, separates long statutes into shorter statutes, reorganizes individual statutes, and provides titles for some provisions.”

    As explained by the LRB, this bill:

      • Adds definitions under chapter 967 for “complaint,” “district attorney,” “felony,” “misdemeanor,” “motion,” and “sentencing.”
      • Moves all current law provisions relating to investigative procedures such as inquests, John Doe proceedings, grand juries, wiretapping, and search and seizure provisions to chapter 968.
      • Creates a process that requires a court, upon the request of a district attorney and a showing that the information requested is relevant to a criminal investigation, to order a financial institution to disclose to the district attorney whether the person named in the order has or had an account at the financial institution.
      • Addresses provisions in chapter 969 that relate to arrest and release and ways to secure the appearance of a defendant, as well as expediting the processing of misdemeanors.
      • Contains provisions relating to the commencement of prosecutions under chapter 970.
      • Addresses, in chapter 971, pretrial procedures. This chapter also contains subchapters for commencement of proceedings, pleas and provisions to expedite proceedings, discovery motions and juveniles in adult court.
      • Revisits the statutes relating to criminal trials under chapter 972.
      • Addresses, in chapter 975, mental health issues affecting a criminal prosecution, such as competency to stand trial and mental responsibility – more commonly referred to as the “insanity defense.”


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