Celebrating and Honoring Our Veterans
Celebrating Our Constitutional Right
Last week marked the five year anniversary of the issuance of Wisconsin’s first Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) license. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites have been issued a concealed carry license. Currently, there are 319,770 valid CCW licenses held by citizens in our state.
Handgun Hotline checks and CCW applications have been at record high levels this year. To date, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Information Bureau (CIB) has processed 39,492 new CCW applications and 132,470 background checks for handgun transfers by Wisconsin firearms dealers in 2016. By comparison, at this time last year, the Firearms Unit processed 32,449 new CCW applications and handled 103,418 requests for Handgun Hotline background checks. Despite increased volume of CCW applications, the DOJ has maintained an average turnaround of six days for new CCW license applications.
DOJ is proud to provide a safe, secure, and efficient process for both the application and renewal of concealed carry licenses via the DOJ website. The CCW website also allows users to update their address or name, request a replacement license, and/or check the status of an application.
Wisconsin has a proud sporting heritage and rich tradition of firearms ownership, and I am proud to lead the agency committed to ensuring law abiding citizens can exercise their Second Amendment Rights by carrying concealed.
Please visit the DOJ website for a list of frequently asked questions about the CCW license.
LEAD for Veterans
The quality of individuals serving in our armed forces is what our law enforcement agencies need on the frontlines of communities across Wisconsin.
Two years ago, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs, announced the Law Enforcement Accelerated Development (LEAD) program. Now, qualified veterans are eligible for an accelerated pathway to becoming a law enforcement officer.
For more information, please visit: https://wilenet.org/html/lead/index.html
Ask the Office of Open Government: Timeliness
Q: How much time does an authority have to respond to my public records request?
A: Wisconsin public records law does not require an authority to respond to a public record request within a certain timeframe, such as one week, 10 days, or one month. The law says that an authority shall fill or deny a request “as soon as practicable and without delay.” As you can imagine, this leaves room for interpretation.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has said that a reasonable amount of time to respond to a public records request depends on a number of factors. The factors include the nature of the request, the staff and resources available to process the request, the extent of the request, and other related considerations. In short, how long an authority has to respond to a request depends. Ten business days may be a reasonable response time for a simple request seeking a limited number of records that are easy to identify. However, as the Court has said, sometimes an authority can be swamped with public records requests and may need a substantial time to respond to a request.
An authority should take care to make responding to public records requests a priority. While there are many circumstances that can delay a response, an authority should make every reasonable effort to respond to requests in a timely fashion and in a way that does not leave the requester wondering if the authority has forgotten about his or her request. It is advisable for an authority to send an acknowledgment letter upon receipt of a public records request. The Office of Open Government also encourages maintaining an open line of communication between an authority and the requester. This helps avoid confusion or misunderstandings as to the status of a request.
It is worth noting that the public records law only requires an authority to respond to a requester if they fulfill or deny a response. The law does not require that an authority notify a requester in the event that the requested records do not exist. However, the OOG advises that an authority notify a requester if this is the case.
The bottom line is that authorities should make a good faith effort to respond to requests without undue delay and to communicate with the requester about the process. While the demands on authority staff can present challenges, authorities should take steps to ensure the public’s right of access remains a priority.
Fall 2016 Drug Take Back A Success
On October 22, 2016, Wisconsinites turned in 58,729 pounds of unused medications to local law enforcement.
Wisconsin’s collection was the second largest of any state’s in the country. During Wisconsin’s record breaking spring 2016 collection, only Texas and California collected more medications than Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Drug Take Back Day is supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin State Patrol, Fuchs Trucking, Schneider National Trucking, Covanta Energy, Indiana State Police, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Waukesha County, and Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office.
AG Schimel Joins $41.2 Million Multistate Settlement with Hyundai, Kia over Fuel Economy Claims
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced in October the state of Wisconsin will receive $920,758.22 as part of a multistate settlement with automakers Hyundai and Kia to resolve claims that the companies misrepresented the mileage and fuel economy ratings for some of their model year 2011, 2012 and 2013 vehicles.
The $41.2 million settlement between 33 states and the District of Columbia and the Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors Corporation, Inc., and Kia Motors America, Inc. concludes a multi-state investigation into the companies' business practices relating to fuel economy estimate adjustments that occurred at a time when gasoline prices in the United States were especially high.
Recent Oral Arguments in the Wisconsin Supreme Court
While committing a robbery of a photography store in La Crosse, Jeffrey P. Lepsch shot and killed Paul Petras and his nineteen-year-old son, Andrew. Lepsch was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force, and possession of a firearm by a felon. The evidence at trial was substantial: surveillance video, cell phone records, and vehicle records led police to Lepsch’s home. Also, investigators traced the equipment stolen from the photography store to Lepsch. A jury deliberated less than five hours after a six-day trial and found Lepsch guilty on all counts.
Lepsch raises several issues on appeal. The main issues concern the alleged ineffectiveness of his trial counsel. Specifically, Lepsch argues that his counsel was ineffective during voir dire, and that counsel’s strategy for not moving to strike specific jurors was unreasonable. Lepsch claims as a result of counsel’s ineffectiveness, nine of the twelve jurors who ultimately sat on the jury harbored both subjective and objective bias. Lepsch also makes the argument that Wisconsin caselaw on jury impartiality “dilutes” federal case law and the Sixth Amendment to the United State’s Constitution. This case is being argued by Assistant Attorney General Sara Shaeffer.
Thornon Talley was found to still be a sexually violent person by a Dane County jury under Wisconsin's civil commitment law, following a trial in the City of Madison, in 2005. Talley asked the court for supervised release, both in 2011 and 2012, but a judge determined that Talley was not eligible.
Under Wisconsin law, Chapter 980, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder that predisposes the person to engage in acts of sexual violence, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it more likely than not that he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence. A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent. Talley was originally committed as a sexually violent person in January 2005. Talley had petitioned the Court for a jury trial to determine if he was still a sexually violent person.
Talley was granted and evidentiary hearing on his 2011 petition. The evidence at trial demonstrated that since his commitment Talley had frequently engaged in acts of sexual misconduct and has had no sexual offender counseling, and the court ordered Talley continue his commitment. Talley filed another discharge petition in 2012. That petition was denied without an evidentiary hearing. Talley appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, concluding that a “significant change” had not been seen in the 2012 report, therefore a second evidentiary hearing was not necessary.
Talley now asks the Supreme Court: was a respondent entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his petition for discharge from Chapter 980 commitment which included information that he had terminated sexual acting out and where a psychologist reported improvement in an important area of functioning? Talley also asks: should this case be remanded to the circuit court for a review that meets the requirements of Wis. Stat. § 980.09(2), namely, that the circuit court review all previous evaluations of a Chapter 980 respondent? This case is being argued by Assistant Attorney General Daniel O’Brien.
This case concerns Wisconsin’s criminal history database and raises claims based on Wisconsin’s Public Records Law and the Fourteenth Amendment. Both the circuit court and court of appeals dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.
Wisconsin’s criminal history database is maintained by DOJ, and allows members of the public to search for criminal history records online by entering a name and a date of birth. Criminal history records include any aliases or fraudulent names used by the offender. Since the database searches are of an entire record, including an alias section, a search for someone whose identity was stolen by a criminal offender will return that offender’s criminal history record. Throughout the search process, requesters receive repeated warnings that the criminal history returned might not belong to the person whose information was entered. DOJ also provides letters to anyone whose identity was stolen, which confirms the person has no criminal history, and further is instituting a system to provide unique identifiers to those individuals that can be used to confirm that they have no history.
Teague raised state law claims under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law balancing test, which creates a presumption that the public shall have complete access to public records, and also under Wis. Stat § 19.70, arguing that he should be allowed to challenge the accuracy of the criminal histories. Teague’s three federal claims arise from the Fourteenth Amendment, including procedural and substantive due process and equal protection. Like the circuit court, the court of appeals rejected all of the plaintiff’s claims, holding that the Public Records Law does not support the plaintiff’s claims, that the criminal history database is rationally related to the public’s legitimate interest in obtaining accurate information, including about a criminal’s use of an alias. The Court of Appeals likewise rejected the remaining constitutional claims. This case is being argued by Deputy Solicitor General Daniel Lennington.
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