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Court Error – Right to Speedy Trial and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. Ronald Eugene Provost

Case No.: 2018AP1268-CR; 2018AP1269-CR

Officials: Stark, P.J., Hruz and Seidl, JJ.

Focus: Court Error – Right to Speedy Trial and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In these consolidated appeals, Ronald Provost appeals a judgment, entered upon a jury’s verdict, convicting him of causing a child to view sexual activity and a judgment, entered upon his guilty pleas, convicting him of seventh-offense operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) and felony bail jumping. He also appeals the orders denying his motions for postconviction relief.

With respect to his conviction for causing a child to view sexual activity, Provost contends that he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial under the traditional four-factor test established in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), as applied and interpreted by our case law. In the alternative, he argues that because two of the attorneys appointed to represent him failed to adhere to the minimum performance guidelines set by the Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender (SPD), we should adopt and apply the “systemic breakdown” exception established by Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81 (2009), to conclude that his speedy-trial right was violated.

As to his conviction for seventh-offense OWI, Provost contends that his trial counsel provided him with ineffective assistance. Specifically, he faults his counsel for failing to collaterally attack two of his prior OWI-related criminal convictions in Minnesota. We conclude that: (1) considering the four Barker factors in light of the totality of the circumstances, there was no violation of Provost’s right to a speedy trial; (2) even assuming that two of the attorneys assigned to represent Provost failed to adhere to the minimum standards set by the SPD (an assumption which, for reasons explained below, is generous), no “systemic breakdown” occurred within the meaning of Brillon; and (3) Provost has failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to collaterally attack the challenged prior OWI convictions. Consequently, we affirm.

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Derek A Hawkins is trademark corporate counsel for Harley-Davidson. Hawkins oversees the prosecution and maintenance of the Harley-Davidson’s international trademark portfolio in emerging markets.

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