'Really?': Supreme Court justices disagree on invoking laches in homicide appeal.

Byline: Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed on invoking laches in an appealcase that concerns a defendant's rights in a2007 homicide conviction.Last week, a 4-3 majority upheld imposing laches in the case, prompting the responses "Really?" in one of the arguments.

Joshua Wren was convicted of reckless homicide in 2007 at the age of 16. A Milwaukee County judge sentenced him to 21 years of initial confinement and nine years of extended supervision, longer than recommended. Court documents say Wren's attorney, Nikola Kostich, had then told him "not to worry" about the longer sentence becausehe'd file an appeal.

A decade later, Wren filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking the reinstatement of his direct appeal rights and alleging Kostich had failed to file a notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief as promised.Wren said he and his family tried to speak to Kostich on various occasions to no avail. His petition referenced Kostich's disciplinary history to substantiate his claims.During the 2017 case, thestate pleaded laches, sayingKostich died in 2014 and no case files remained.A court of appeals decided to impose laches and denied the petition.

Wren appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing the adoption of laches was ill-considered. The appeal challenged whether the state had established that there had been unreasonable delay and prejudice in the proceedings. Chief Justice Pat Roggensack and justices Brian Hagedorn, Annette Ziegler and Dan Kelly upheld the Court of Appeals decision.

In the majority opinion, Hagedorn said unreasonable delay in laches is determined by taking into account what litigants might have known had they exercised reasonable diligence, not what they actually...

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