Byline: Derek Hawkins
WI Supreme Court
Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. Robert James Pope, Jr.
Case No.: 2019 WI 106
Focus: Court Error Trial Transcripts
This is a review of an unpublished opinion of the court of appeals, State v. Pope, No. 2017AP1720-CR, unpublished slip op. (Wis. Ct. App. Nov. 13, 2018), reversing the Milwaukee County circuit court's order. The circuit court vacated Robert James Pope, Jr.'s ("Pope") 1996 judgment of conviction for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, party to a crime, and granted Pope's postconviction motion for a new trial. The circuit court concluded that a new trial was necessary because there was no transcript of Pope's 1996 jury trial available. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated Pope's conviction. The court of appeals concluded that Pope was not entitled to a new trial because he failed to meet his burden to assert a facially valid claim of error. We affirm the court of appeals.
Under State v. Perry and State v. DeLeon, when a transcript is incomplete, a defendant may be entitled to a new trial, but only after the defendant makes a facially valid claim of arguably prejudicial error. Perry, 136 Wis. 2d 92, 101, 401 N.W.2d 748 (1987); DeLeon, 127 Wis. 2d 74, 377 N.W.2d 635 (Ct. App. 1985). This court must decide whether the Perry/DeLeon procedure applies even when the entire trial transcript is unavailable. Pope argues that the...