Justice (Still) Delayed When Defendants Held Without Benefit of Hearing, Counsel
This letter is a follow-up to one I wrote that was published in the September 2019 Wisconsin Lawyer about an interlocutory appeal. It deals with a case in which a defendant was originally detained on a drug charge in September 2018. The defendant was eligible for a public defender but went until December 2018 without a lawyer and without a hearing because private attorneys were not available to be appointed. A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on a petition for rule change held that attorneys are to be court appointed (“Dean appointments”) to avoid delay in that situation, but judges in Marathon County and a number of other counties fail to court appoint attorneys because the county would end up paying for the fees.
An attorney was appointed by the SPD in December 2018. That attorney moved to dismiss for violation of the preliminary hearing time limits and for a violation of due process. The motion was denied, and the attorney petitioned for an interlocutory appeal. The petition was granted – highly unusual in interlocutory appeals. The record was finally ordered and a briefing schedule was ordered but the appeal is still pending as of April 2020 when I am writing this letter. The defendant’s trial case has not moved past arraignment. While he served a prison sentence after being revoked from probation, he is back in the Marathon County jail on the original charge. The trial judge has denied a modification of bail.
While delays due to lack of attorney appointment might be fewer now than before the SPD rate was increased to $70 per hour in January, delays are still occurring. Hopefully a reversal in this case will end the delays and force court appointment of attorneys.
I am retired as of 2016 but I have been following this delay situation since the summer of 2019 when I became aware of it. Another one-month delay was granted at the Attorney General’s request. Then another month was added to the briefing schedule due to the coronavirus crisis. I handled a number of appeals in my 40-year career, most of them criminal, and I understand they take time, but the delays in this case are outrageous. I hope this case is decided by the time this letter is published. I feel compelled to draw some kind of attention to this situation because few of the parties involved seem to have suffered offense about the time this is taking, other than perhaps the defendant and his attorney.
We Want to Hear from You! Submit a Letter to the Editor
Wisconsin Lawyer provides a forum for members to express ideas, concerns, and opinions on law-related subjects. Send comments to org wislawyer wisbar wisbar wislawyer org (include “Letters” in the subject line), or mail to Wisconsin Lawyer “Letters,” P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Limit to 500 words. Writing guidelines available.
Connect With Us Online. Post comments to articles
online, and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Lesson in Surviving ‘Profound Events’
I appreciate Executive Director Larry Martin’s column, “We’ve Got Your Back,” in the May Wisconsin Lawyer. In the column, Mr. Martin told of growing up in a large, close-knit extended family “in which every adult I knew was shaped by two profound events – the Great Depression and World War II.” He wrote how people got through those times by relying on each other and on their friends and neighbors. Mr. Martin then wrote about what the State Bar of Wisconsin is doing to support Wisconsin lawyers and residents during today’s “profound event” – the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a wonderful reminder of whence we came, and the attributes of our family members who lived through those times.
Just a little history. Jack McBride, my uncle, was a magistrate in Milwaukee at the end of his career. He also was a former legislator. Dennis McBride, also an attorney, was his son and my cousin. Dennis was in private practice in Milwaukee; unfortunately, he passed away far too young in life. As for the current generation, Dennis’s son, Patrick is a practicing attorney, also in Milwaukee.
Perhaps why this column resonated as it did: my father, Robert McBride, was born in 1915, and his oldest brother was born in 1895. I think many, many people have family histories exactly like mine. Mr. Martin was able to remind us of that touchstone, in a wonderful manner.
I am licensed in Wisconsin but practice in Illinois with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Bureau, in Springfield. My practice entails environmental enforcement; I have a niche of environmental enforcement with regard to agriculture entities (in particular livestock operations) and also a bit of a focus in natural resource work.
I attended the State Bar of Wisconsin’s “Keep Your Cool” webinar. It was very helpful. I just wanted to let you know the work of the State Bar is appreciated during these times!
Springfield, Ill. (originally from Whitefish Bay/Milwaukee)