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DWU professor's work cited in Wisconsin Supreme Court case

After being referenced by the Harvard Law Review last year, Dakota Wesleyan University

assistant professor of criminal justice Jesse Weins' article on Supreme Court decision-making was recently cited by the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

It was also cited in 2010 by a federal court in the National Day of Prayer case.

The Wisconsin case, State v. Deadwiller, reviewed the parameters of submitting report evidence in a rape case, which concerns the constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses being called against the defendant.

"In 2012, in Williams v. Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court had to decide whether in rape cases the state must produce the actual forensic report writer, or just any forensic expert that could describe the report submitted by the prosecution. It held that any forensic expert will do, and this doesn't violate the defendant's rights even though the defendant cannot cross-examine the person who wrote the report," he said.

The Harvard Law Review, in its annual review of each year's Supreme Court cases, cited Weins's article in a footnote, since the Supreme Court in Williams was not a clear majority and the issue of its precedent came up.

Meanwhile, the state of Wisconsin was holding off in cases on this issue until the Supreme Court's Williams decision, so that they would know how to rule on the constitutional issue. State courts apply Supreme Court precedent to their own cases on this issue, since defendants' rights during trials are often matters of federal constitutional law.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court, therefore, ruled on that issue in its own state case this July. It followed the Supreme Court's rule in Williams, that any forensic expert will suffice," Weins said. "But because the Williams Supreme Court decision was fraught with different views among the Court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court likewise was trying to determine a precedent from the Williams case to apply in its own."

The chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court cited Weins' article for background on that question.