Wisconsin DOJ - A Resource for Everyone
Welcome to the new newsletter from the Office of the Attorney General. Often citizens only hear about the Wisconsin Department of Justice when an arrest is made or a case is being argued in court. What citizens don’t realize is there are many resources available at the Department of Justice for every citizen. With this newsletter, we hope to give citizens a monthly reminder of all the things they should know about DOJ. From press releases to podcasts to monthly advisories on public records questions we hope you will come to know DOJ as an agency that has resources for everyone – victims of crime, law enforcement and their families, parents, consumers, the elderly, students, and everyone in between. To receive the newsletter in your email inbox every month, subscribe. You can also view the newsletter online. I am proud to be your Attorney General and I look forward to sharing all the news from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Very truly yours,
Brad D. Schimel
72 Conversations on Keeping Wisconsin Safe
I was a local county official before I was elected Wisconsin’s Attorney General in 2014. My lifelong law enforcement career taught me that state government must be held accountable and made a partner in the fight against crime. As Waukesha District Attorney I saw the importance of statewide leaders taking the time to listen to the challenges local officials are facing in their communities. And as Wisconsin’s Attorney General, I need to be aware of the public safety concerns in our state – which are constantly changing.
Over the last two months I have made stops in thirteen counties and over the next year I will be making stops in all remaining Wisconsin counties to meet with local law enforcement and elected officials to discuss the public safety concerns in their communities. Already, we’re discovering that major public safety concerns can vary dramatically, even in neighboring counties.
I have made it my personal mission to combat the prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic, and while this continues to be a major problem for many parts of our state, some counties have other major concerns such as increased methamphetamine use and difficulties with recruiting new law enforcement.
So, I’m on a mission to find out: what’s working? What’s not? Where do you need more resources? And how can the Wisconsin Department of Justice help your communities stay safe? The Wisconsin Department of Justice can’t do it on their own. Local law enforcement can’t do it on their own. Together, we can keep Wisconsin safe.
For information about your county’s roundtable meeting and to track the Attorney General’s travel across Wisconsin, go to: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/ag-roundtable-map.
Statewide Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign Launches
Every year, dozens of human trafficking victims in Wisconsin are saved by law enforcement, yet dozens more remain chained to the pimps and criminals who run this underground economy. In an effort to stem this modern day slavery, Attorney General Brad Schimel teamed up with Representative Amy Loudenbeck and Senator Jerry Petrowski to pass 2015 Wisconsin Act 5, requiring the creation of human trafficking resource center hotline posters. One of the largest barriers we face in the fight against human trafficking is letting trafficking victims know that resources are available through someone other than their oppressor. This poster will not only let victims know that resources are available to them, but it will provide a place for the public to report tips.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice strongly encourages both rural and urban public agency executives and business owners, particularly those in the hospitality and service industries, to download and display the human trafficking posters. The posters, available in both English and Spanish translations, come in multiple sizes and can be downloaded at no cost from: BeFreeWisconsin.com.
Ask the Office of Open Government (OOG)
Q: Does including a confidentiality notice at the end of a message shield the message from disclosure under the public records law?
A: The short answer is not necessarily. Confidentiality notices, are common, especially in the legal profession. Here is a common example:
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message and any accompanying documents contain information belonging to the sender which may be confidential and legally privileged. This information is only for the use of the individual or entity to which it was intended. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution, or action taken in reliance on the contents of the information contained in this message and any accompanying documents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete the message. Thank you.
Many businesses, including lawyers and law firms include such notices as standard boilerplate at the end of their emails, fax cover sheets, and other communications. Many correspondences, notably in the legal profession, are confidential or privileged attorney-client communications. As a result, it is necessary to prevent the unauthorized or accidental transmission of a message to an unintended recipient and to avoid a claim that confidentiality or privilege has been waived.
Confidential or privileged attorney-client communications may be protected from disclosure under the public records law. However, just because a notice is included in a message does not necessarily mean that the message is confidential or privileged communication, nor does it shield it from public disclosure. No one, whether it is an individual, business, or law firm, can unilaterally exempt records from disclosure under the public records law just as one cannot nullify the public’s right of access through contract or private agreement. The content of the message determines whether the message is a record subject to disclosure under the public records law.
The public records law does not prohibit the inclusion of confidentiality notices in messages. In fact they can be useful. However, government employees should take great care when including such notices that they not be misunderstood as necessarily protecting the message from public disclosure.
Drug Take Back Day - October 22
Mark your calendar! Saturday, October 22 is the next statewide drug take-back day!
Drug take-back day provides the community with a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal. Bring your unused, expired, and excess prescription drugs to a participating drug take-back location, which can be found by visiting: www.doseofrealitywi.gov
All Prescription (controlled and non-controlled) and over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, inhalers, creams, vials and pet medications are welcome!
Please leave illegal drugs, needles/sharps, aerosol cans, bio-hazardous materials, personal care products, household hazardous waste, and mercury thermometers at home.
To find a drug take-back location near you, or for more information on prescription drug abuse, please visit: www.doseofrealitywi.gov
Oral Arguments in the Wisconsin Supreme Court
State v. Maday
Stanley J. Maday, Jr., was charged with three counts of sexually assaulting a child. At the trial, the social worker who had interviewed the child testified that she is trained to use a highly structured interview technique known as a cognitive graphic interview process to make the child’s statements more reliable. The social worker also testified that there was no indication during the interview that the child had been coached or that the child was not being honest. Maday was convicted and appealed, arguing that his attorney was ineffective for not objecting to this testimony, because as a general rule no witness should be permitted to testify that another mentally and physically competent witness is telling the truth. Maday argued that the testimony of the social worker violated this rule because the social worker in effect vouched for the credibility of the child. The Court of Appeals agreed with Maday and reversed his convictions.
The State is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify the distinction between impermissible testimony expressing subjective opinions about the credibility of the child, i.e., testimony about the personal sense impressions of a witness regarding the child’s ability to lie, and permissible testimony describing objective behavioral manifestations of a child’s credibility, i.e., the kind of testimony in this case about the lack of any indication by the child that she was coached or lying. The State wants the Court to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals, and to reinstate Maday’s convictions. This case is being argued by Assistant Attorney General Tom Balistreri.
State v. Weber
A deputy arrested Weber for his tenth drunk driving offense after Weber failed to pull over for a minor traffic stop and instead drove down his driveway and into his garage, where he ignored the deputy’s instructions to stop and talk and tried to enter his house. The deputy then went into Weber’s garage and had to secure Weber’s arm to prevent him from going into the house. During the encounter, the deputy saw signs that Weber was intoxicated. Weber challenged his arrest, arguing that the deputy’s entry into his garage was unlawful. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s denial of Weber’s motion to suppress, based on the argument that in addition to hot pursuit, there must be a potential danger to life, risk of evidence destruction, or likelihood of escape to permit entry without warrant.
Based on the State’s petition for review, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will clarify Wisconsin law regarding the doctrine of hot pursuit and determine whether hot pursuit based on probable cause for a jailable offense constitutes an independent justification for a warrantless home entry and arrest. This case is being argued by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Noet.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin v. Wisconsin Department of Justice
This case involves the requested release of two video-recorded trainings given to a limited audience of prosecutors, explaining how to investigate, catch, and prosecute sexual predators. The Department opposes release of these videos because it concluded these videos, if made public, would both help sexual predators evade the law and cause great harm to the victims.
Beyond this immediate damage to the public interest that would result from the release of these two videos, the Department is concerned about the long-term implications of such disclosure. Mandating release of these videos would undermine the State’s ability to train prosecutors and police officers in the future. As a practical matter, forcing release may well mean that future trainers will provide less useful techniques and that any such trainings may no longer be videotaped. This would deprive prosecutors and police, including those unable to attend such trainings in person, of critical tools for protecting the citizens of Wisconsin. This case is being argued by Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin.
Wisconsin Carry, Inc. v. City of Madison
In this case the plaintiff, Wisconsin Carry, Inc. makes the argument state law preempts certain municipal gun regulations, namely, Madison’s Transit and Parking Commission’s rule banning all weapons from its Madison Metro buses.
The State argues that a municipality cannot delegate power that it does not have, and that municipalities do not have the power to regulate firearms in ways more stringent than state law. Since state law allows people to possess and transport firearms in vehicles, Madison may not ban them from its buses. This case is being argued by Chief Deputy Solicitor General Ryan Walsh.