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14th Amendment-Due Process

WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. Christopher S. Butler

Case No.: 2021AP000177-CR

Officials: Gill, J.

Focus: 14th Amendment-Due Process

Butler appeals an order denying his motion to dismiss his criminal charges based on his claim that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over Butler because he was held in pretrial custody for 321 days before his initial appearance was completed, and 342 days before his preliminary hearing was held. Butler also asserts a Riverside violation, as well as violations of his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial and his 14th Amendment right to procedural due process.

The appeals court agrees that the circuit court lost personal jurisdiction over Butler by not completing Butler’s initial appearance “within a reasonable time.” See WIS. STAT. § 970.01 (2021-22).

The appeals court concludes that when determining whether a sua sponte adjournment of an incomplete initial appearance—solely to locate counsel for a defendant—is “reasonable,” circuit courts and court commissioners must make factual findings on the record considering the justification for the adjournment, the possible prejudice to the defendant, and, where applicable, public interest. See State v. Lee, 2021 WI App 12, ¶¶43, 50, 396 Wis. 2d 136, 955 N.W.2d 424; State v. Selders, 163 Wis. 2d 607, 614-15, 472 N.W.2d 526 (Ct. App. 1991). The record lacks any evidence of such considerations. The appeals court denies Butler’s motion to dismiss; and remands with directions for the court to grant the motion and dismiss the criminal complaint and Information without prejudice.

Reversed and Remanded.

Decided 05/09/23

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