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Postconviction Relief- ineffective Assistance of Counsel


Postconviction Relief- ineffective Assistance of Counsel


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WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. Dennis Keith Durocher

Case No.: 2022AP000501

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

Focus: Postconviction Relief- ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Durocher, representing himself, had appealed the circuit court’s decision, arguing it erred in denying his motion without a hearing. He claimed his postconviction counsel was constitutionally ineffective for not raising certain issues on direct appeal and contested a previous order requiring him to repay his trial attorney’s legal fees.

Durocher was convicted in 2007 of first-degree sexual assault of a child under thirteen and sentenced to fifty years (thirty years of initial confinement and twenty years of extended supervision). His direct appeal, which challenged the exclusion of evidence concerning the victim’s prior sexual assault allegation, was denied. In his 2021 § 974.06 motion, Durocher argued his trial counsel was ineffective for not informing him of a plea offer and a letter from his then-wife, claimed the presiding judge should have recused himself after receiving a letter from Durocher’s then-wife, and contested the requirement to repay his trial attorney’s fees.

The circuit court denied the motion without a hearing, stating Durocher was procedurally barred from raising these issues due to not filing them in a prior motion or direct appeal. It found Durocher was aware of the plea offer and his then-wife’s letter, and that receiving unsolicited letters did not necessitate judicial recusal. The court did not directly address the attorney fees issue.

The appeals court concluded Durocher’s motion contained only conclusory allegations without sufficiently demonstrating why his new claims were stronger than those raised in his direct appeal. Furthermore, it determined Durocher failed to provide a sufficient reason for not raising the attorney fees issue earlier. The decision to affirm highlights the procedural complexities and burdens of proof in postconviction relief motions, emphasizing the requirement for clear, substantive arguments over conclusory allegations.



Decided 03/26/24

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