Wisconsin Supreme Court
Constitutional Law — equal protection — civil commitment
The constitutional guarantee of equal protection is not violated when only a six-person jury with a 5/6 determination is available to those subject to involuntary commitment under Chapter 51 when compared to the 12-person jury and a requirement of unanimity for individuals subject to involuntary civil commitment proceedings as sexually violent persons under Chapter 980.
“We agree with Milwaukee County that the availability of a non-unanimous six-person jury in a § 51.20 commitment trial does not violate equal protection. Chapter 980 committees are subject to increased liberty restraints when compared to Chapter 51 committees. The legislature has imposed restraints in both situations for treatment purposes and for the purposes of protecting the public. We hold that the legislative decision to allow the added protection of a 12-person unanimous jury in Chapter 980 commitment trials, but not in Chapter 51 commitment trials, is rationally related to different treatment needs and differing levels of dangerousness that § 51.20 and Chapter 980 seek to address, as well as stricter rules concerning confinement in Chapter 980.”
Attorneys: For Appellant: Schieber, Hannah Blair, Milwaukee; For Respondent: Foley, Colleen A., Milwaukee