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Wisconsin Department of Justice Prevails Before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in "Right to Public Trial Violations" Claim Brought by Attempted Murderer Suspect Had Fled to Albania Before Trial Attempted First Degree Reckless Homicide Conviction Stands


MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its decision yesterday in State v. Dhosi J. Ndina.


"I am pleased the Department's arguments were vindicated and the conviction in this matter stands," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. "I congratulate our lawyers who upheld this conviction of a man who tried to kill his nephew."


Dhosi Ndina was convicted of first degree recklessly endangering safety while armed with a dangerous weapon after a ten-day jury trial held in May of 2005 before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mary Kuhnmuench. The state alleged and proved at trial that Ndina stabbed his nephew, Erjon Dhembi, in the back during an altercation at a family celebration November 23, 2002. Ndina fled to his native Albania after the incident and was extradited back to this country, tried and convicted.


On review in the Circuit Court after conviction, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Dennis P. Moroney ordered Ndina's conviction reversed because members of his family were excluded from part of the jury trial in violation of his Constitutional right to a public trial. Moroney ruled that Judge Kuhnmuench excluded these family members in violation of Ndina's right to a public trial and this required automatic reversal of his conviction. The court of appeals reversed Judge Moroney's ruling.


The Court (as had the Court of Appeals) remanded the case for further proceedings in the circuit court on issues unrelated to the now-resolved public trial question.


The unanimous Court held that although exclusion of several of Ndina's family members from part of the trial implicated his Sixth Amendment public trial right, the right was not in fact violated here because their exclusion was justified.


The case now returns to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court for additional postconviction proceedings to take up issues unrelated to the public trial question.


Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. O'Brien appeared before the Supreme Court on behalf of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.


A copy of the decision is available at