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GRGB pro bono effort secures restitution payment percentage

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has agreed to cut in half the amount of prison wages the state was withholding from a prisoner convicted of robbery following a successful pro bono intervention by Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown.

Victor Ortiz, Jr. was convicted in 2010 of first-degree reckless injury and armed robbery with the use of force. Milwaukee County Circuit Court sentenced him to confinement in state prison and extended supervision, ordering him to pay $43,777 in restitution.

In April 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections circulated a memo to all inmates stating that a new policy, Division of Adult Institutions Policy No. 309.45.02, would soon increase the rate of deduction for inmate funds used for restitution, statutory surcharges and court costs. The new maximum would be set at 50% of their prison wages.

Ortiz responded by requesting an amended judgment of conviction stating only 25% restitution could be paid from his prison wages. Several months later, the state began deducting 50% of Ortiz’s prison wages, as well as 50% of the gifted funds deposited in Ortiz’s prison account, for the purpose of restitution. Ortiz filed a petition for a writ of certiorari and won.

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown was asked to help Ortiz file his response to the DOC’s appeal. Attorneys Jason Luczak and Jorge Fragoso took on the task pro bono. The court of appeals agreed in March 2022 with Ortiz and GRGB’s position that 2015’s Wisconsin Act 355 was not applicable to his case because the sentencing court had stipulated that only 25% could be taken in restitution.

About Ali Teske

Ali Teske is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or [email protected]

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