Continuing the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic
Continuing the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic
Since the launch of Dose of Reality 18 months ago, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and our private and public partners have taken a multifaceted approach to preventing prescription drug abuse. DOJ’s recent efforts with private partners have focused on supporting those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic – pharmacists and first responders.
This week, Attorney General Brad Schimel and Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW) announced a new training tool designed to deter pharmacy robberies. The Pharmacy Robbery Prevention and Response training is provided to pharmacies by law enforcement. It will teach pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, clerks, and other pharmacy personnel how to deter a robbery. It will also prepare personnel to deal with an actual robbery, both during and after. The sobering reality is that pharmacy robberies have occurred in all corners of the state, in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Anybody with information related to a pharmacy robbery or other criminal behavior is encouraged to contact local law enforcement.
Attorney General Schimel continues to expand access and affordability of the live-saving opiate antidotes, like NARCAN® Nasal Spray, through partnerships with two naloxone manufacturers.
Police, first responders, state or local government agencies, as well as community-based organizations that purchase NARCAN® Nasal Spray directly from Adapt Pharma, Inc. in quantities greater than 48 units are eligible for a 40% discount, reducing the price from $125 to $75 for 2 4mg doses. The discounted price is set until February 15, 2018. For more information, please visit narcan.com or the DOJ website.
Attorney General Schimel has also teamed up with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, to give public entities access to Amphastar’s naloxone rebate. Government and law enforcement agencies of all levels, and other public and government entities that deploy naloxone are eligible for Amphastar’s naloxone rebate. Click for more information on the rebate.
For more information about prescription drug abuse, please visit: www.doseofrealitywi.gov
Fighting Against Federal Overreach and Protecting Your Second Amendment Rights
In February, Attorney General Brad Schimel led a national coalition of 13 attorneys general encouraging Senate and House leadership to protect the Second Amendment rights of all American citizens.
In a letter to Congressional leadership, the coalition encouraged Congress to utilize its power, under the Congressional Review Act, to stop a rule imposed by the Obama Administration that takes away the Second Amendment rights of some Social Security beneficiaries. The rule, finalized last December, empowers the Social Security Administration (SSA) to declare a beneficiary "mentally defective," preventing that individual from legally possessing a firearm. The rule expands the definition of "mentally defective" to include instances as basic as when the SSA determines an individual's interests would be better served if his or her benefits were paid through a designated payee. Even more troubling, the SSA may do so without a hearing, further violating the individual's right to due process.
On February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 40, repealing the rule.
“Protecting the Second Amendment is one of my core missions as Attorney General. I am delighted that President Trump restored the rights of our Social Security recipients yesterday by un-doing former President Obama’s unconstitutional regulation,” said Attorney General Schimel. “On behalf of Wisconsin, I will continue to encourage and support President Trump’s efforts to repeal unconstitutional and harmful laws and regulations, especially those that undermine our cherished freedoms or our State’s sovereignty.”
Ask the Office of Open Government
Question: What can I do if an authority denies my public records request, and I disagree with the authority’s decision?
Answer: The Wisconsin Public Records Law provides several courses of action for a requester dissatisfied with an authority’s response, or lack of response, to a public records request. An action for mandamus which asks a court to order the release of requested records is available if an authority denies an entire request or part of a request or delays granting access to a requested record. An authority’s offer to comply with a request that is conditioned on unauthorized costs and terms constitutes a denial.
A requester has three ways to pursue a mandamus action.
- A requester may file an action for mandamus by himself or herself, with or without the assistance of an attorney.
- A requester may submit a written request asking the district attorney of the county where the record is found to pursue enforcement.
- A requester may submit a written request to the Attorney General to file an action for mandamus.
The law does not require a district attorney to commence an enforcement action upon receipt of a written request to do so. A district attorney has broad discretion to decide whether to pursue a mandamus action. Likewise, the Attorney General has broad discretion to decide whether to pursue enforcement. While compliance with the law in general is important, the Attorney General generally exercises his authority to pursue enforcement only in cases presenting novel issues of law that coincide with matters of statewide concern. The public records law takes into account the fact that district attorneys or the Attorney General may not always bring actions for mandamus upon request and provides individuals with the option of commencing their own action.
The enforcement provisions of the public records law may be found at Wis. Stat. § 19.37. For more information on enforcement and the remedies available under the law, please see the Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide, which is available for free download.
Opinion Issued in State v. Mattox
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has issued a decision in State v. Rozerick E. Mattox, affirming Mattox’s conviction in Waukesha County Circuit Court for first-degree reckless homicide for delivering heroin that caused a death.
Mattox was charged with first-degree reckless homicide by delivery of heroin. To prove that the victim died as a result of a heroin overdose, the State introduced the testimony of the associate medical examiner that performed the victim’s autopsy. During her testimony, the medical examiner relied heavily on, among other things, the results of the victim’s toxicology report from the St. Louis University Toxicology Laboratory. Defense counsel objected to the introduction of the toxicology report, arguing that its use violated Mattox’s right to confrontation. The circuit court overruled the objection.
The court subsequently found Mattox guilty of first-degree reckless homicide by delivery of a controlled substance. Mattox appealed, arguing that he was entitled to a new trial where the circuit court violated his right to confront witnesses against him by admitting the toxicology report and allowing the medical examiner to testify about the report. The Court of Appeals certified the case due to “significant tension” between its recent decisions in 2014 and 2015, State v. Heine and State v. VanDyke. The Court of Appeals certified the case due to “significant tension” between its recent decisions in 2014 and 2015, State v. Heine and State v. VanDyke, respectively – two Confrontation Clause cases bearing “substantial similarities” to this one – and decisions of the United States Supreme Court and Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Mattox asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify whether there was a violation of a defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause (contained in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution) when the State introduces at trial a toxicology report identifying certain drugs in a deceased victim’s system and/or testimony of a medical examiner basing his/her cause-of-death opinion, in part, on the information set forth in such a report, if the author of the report does not testify and is not otherwise made available for examination by the defendant.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that “[u]nder that test, when the statement’s primary purpose is something other than to ‘creat[e] an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony’ its admission does not implicate the Confrontation Clause.” The Court said that “[t]he primary purpose of the toxicology report in this case was to assist the medical examiner in determining the cause of death. All objective indicators show the report was not created for an evidentiary purpose: (1) the medical examiner testified she requested the toxicology analysis as a part of her autopsy protocol; (2) the toxicology report was not sworn, certified, or in the form of an affidavit and it comprised only numerals quantifying the concentration of substances contained in [the decedent’s] blood, urine, and tissue samples without any analysis or interpretation of those numbers; (3) the police were not involved in the autopsy or toxicology requests; (4) the report was not requested by or reported directly to law enforcement; (5) according to the record, the analyst who signed the report had no knowledge the report related to a crime; and (6) the report did not give an opinion on the cause of death or any element of the crime for which Mattox was charged.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that “[a]pplying all the pertinent Clark factors in this case results in a single conclusion: the toxicology report in this case was not ‘testimonial’ because its primary purpose was to identify the concentration of the tested substances in biological samples sent by the medical examiner as a part of her autopsy to determine the cause of death—not to create a substitute for out-of-court testimony or to gather evidence against Mattox for prosecution. Use of this toxicology report during trial did not infringe Mattox’s confrontation right.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court then “declare[d] a general rule with respect to the type of toxicology report at issue here. When a medical examiner—unilaterally and not in conjunction with law enforcement—requests a toxicology report while performing an autopsy to determine the cause of death, admitting the toxicology report generally will not violate the Confrontation Clause when the toxicology report contains solely a numerical account of the concentration of substances within a decedent’s blood, urine, and tissue.”
This case was argued by Deputy Solicitor General Luke Berg. Read the Court’s opinion.
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National Sunshine Week
March 12 - 18, 2017
National Crime Victims' Rights Week
April 2 - 8, 2017
April 4, 2017