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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. Steven Robert Seekamp

Case No.: 2022AP000854-CR

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

Focus: Postconviction Relief-Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Steven Seekamp appeals from a judgment convicting him of possession of methamphetamine, as a repeater, and maintaining a drug trafficking place. He also appeals from an order denying his motion for postconviction relief.
The court’s reasoning centered on two primary issues: the handling of body-worn camera footage and the suppression of evidence. Seekamp argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inquire about additional body-worn camera footage from an interaction between Sergeant Coleman and another individual, Royale Harris, which could have affected the constitutionality of a search at his residence. The appellate court found that trial counsel did not perform deficiently because counsel had reasonable grounds to believe no additional relevant footage existed, and other evidence supported Harris’s incriminating statements about Seekamp’s drug use. The court noted that counsel’s decisions are given great deference, particularly regarding strategic choices. Furthermore, even if the footage had been available and contradicted the police testimony, it would likely not have affected the outcome of the trial because other corroborating statements provided a reasonable basis for the search.

Seekamp also argued that his counsel failed to effectively challenge the search of his residence on grounds that law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion, as required by the conditions of his probation and the standards set forth in Wisconsin statutes. The appellate court disagreed, pointing out that the police had sufficient reasonable suspicion based on information from Harris and observations at a domestic incident involving Seekamp. The court emphasized that the decisions made by law enforcement were based on a combination of direct observations and reliable information linking Seekamp to drug activity, which justified the search under statutory and constitutional guidelines.

The court concluded that Seekamp’s counsel’s performance did not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness and that Seekamp failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the outcome of his trial would have been different but for the alleged errors made by his counsel. As such, the Court of Appeals upheld the judgment and the denial of the motion for postconviction relief, concluding that Seekamp did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel.


Decided 04/09/24

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