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Linnen racks up 7th Circuit wins

Julie Linnen,  attorney,  Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc.,  Madison

Julie Linnen,  attorney,  Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc.,  Madison

Julie Linnen penned an especially prophetic eighth-grade essay. She wrote that someday she wanted “to be a lawyer for people who can’t afford lawyers.”

Now, that is exactly what Linnen does now with Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc.

Her clients are “real people with real issues,” she said, “who deserve respect and to be represented well.”

The office’s informal motto, she said, is to “provide the best representation that money can’t buy.”

It’s a goal Linnen has achieved several times in her three years of practice.

In U.S. v. Williams, she made a successful Fourth Amendment challenge. In the case, police responded to an anonymous 911 call that approximately 25 people with guns were in a bar parking lot in a high-crime area. Police singled out the defendant for a pat-down search and found a gun.

Linnen argued the government had no individualized suspicion to frisk her client, or to believe that he was armed and dangerous. The 7th Circuit overturned the conviction.

“Williams would be a highlight for any lawyer, much less one at Julie’s level,” said Federal Defender Daniel Stiller. “Julie came to our office the summer after her 1L year, and she has now become everything we could hope for as a lawyer.”

Craig Albee, associate federal defender, said Linnen is “determined, creative and passionate about defending our clients.”

“What most impresses me,” Albee said, “is her ability to take complicated issues and explain them simply and persuasively to both judges and juries.”

Linnen used those skills to land another recent 7th Circuit victory in U.S. v. Spencer. Her client faced a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, which applies to defendants convicted of a federal gun offense who also have three prior convictions either for serious drug offenses or felonies.

Spencer had two prior convictions that fell under the statute, Linnen said, while the third offense was for distribution of methamphetamine. It was unclear whether that qualified, because under the federal act, state law must impose a maximum term of 10 years in prison or more for the offense.

Linnen persuaded the court that the federal act didn’t encompass a state law mandating a term of imprisonment that incorporated supervision, too.

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