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The Importance of Knowing How to Win on Appeal

No matter how good a defense strategy may be, success still often depends on a knowledgeable judge willing to make a politically unpopular ruling. When a judge makes the wrong ruling, success then depends upon an ability to win an appeal. The law firm of Anderegg & Associates is renowned for its experience and success seeking post-conviction relief in both the trial courts and the appellate courts of Wisconsin.

Post-Conviction Relief in the Trial Court

Sarah, while represented by a public defender, pled guilty of being a party to the felony crimes of Robbery and Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Owner’s Consent. The charges stemmed from an incident where she drove a getaway car after her boyfriend unexpectedly robbed, shot and killed a man in a drug store parking lot. Unfortunately, Sarah was also on probation at the time for welfare fraud. Her probation was revoked and she was facing sentencing on those older charges as well.

Sarah was sentenced to a total of 15 years prison on the new charges, but the sentencing court stated the prison sentence should be served concurrent to the sentence received following revocation of her probation. Thereafter, however, when Sarah was sentenced after her probation revocation for Welfare Fraud by another court to 14 years of prison, that court stated that Sarah would have to serve those 14 years consecutive to her 15-year sentence. Sarah was therefore left with a combined 29 years in prison.

Sarah was represented by an attorney at Anderegg & Associates who calculated that through a post-conviction motion to the trial court, he could compel the first court to make the sentences concurrent, as it had originally intended. The motion was successful and Sarah’s prison sentence was reduced from 29 years to 15 years. Because the sentence was an indeterminate sentence of which she had already served more than a year before retaining Anderegg & Associates to fix the problem, she was eligible for parole just 18 months after Anderegg & Associates work on her case was completed.

By Rex Anderegg

Relief in the Court of Appeals

Police dispatch received a night-time call from a convenience store clerk that an apparently intoxicated driver had left the store without his truck headlights illuminated. Police ran the pickup’s plate and traced it to Dennis’s apartment. A police officer knocked on Dennis’s door and obtained an admission from Dennis that he had been operating a motor vehicle after consuming intoxicating beverages. The officer also claimed to have noticed an odor of alcohol, slurred speech and glassy eyes. Subsequent field sobriety tests and a blood test significantly in excess of the legal limit greatly strengthened the State’s case.

Recognizing the Fourth Amendment implications of the case, the attorneys at Anderegg & Associates filed a suppression motion. At the suppression hearing, the attorneys were able to extract an admission from the officer that when Dennis opened his apartment door, the officer immediately stuck his foot across the threshold to prevent Dennis from closing the door. With intricate knowledge of the Fourth Amendment, specifically that even the slightest entry into a home without a warrant is unlawful unless police have probable cause and exigent circumstances, the attorneys at Anderegg & Associates capitalized on the admission and challenged the lawfulness of the entry. Nevertheless, the trial court denied Dennis’s motion.

Anderegg & Associates appealed the trial court’s decision to the court of appeals and prevailed. The appellate court remanded the case and told the trial court to suppress all of the evidence obtained after the officer stepped into the doorway. The OWI charges against Dennis were dismissed and the case established binding precedent in Wisconsin affirming citizens’ rights to be free from government intrusion into their homes.

By Rex Anderegg