Favorable WI Supreme Court ruling based on state’s falsely inflating recidivism claims

By Gretchen Schuldt . . . The Department of Corrections must turn over a database containing information about sex offenders that a defense lawyer contends could show the state has been overstating how likely sex offenders are to commit future sexual violence, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled, 4-3, Wednesday.

Justice Rebecca F. Dallet‘s opinion for the majority recounts how far DOC officials went to block lawyers for Anthony James Jendusa from getting the information.

Among other things, the Department of Corrections’ legal counsel twice advised its staff not to turn over a database containing information about state sex offenders, despite a subpoena and then a court order requiring the agency to do so, Dallet wrote. A DOC psychologist testified he failed for more than a year to open an email that could potentially undercut his evaluation methods. And a DOC research committee said Jendusa could have the information, but then never provided it.

Dallet was joined in her opinion by Justices Ann Walsh BradleyBrian Hagedorn, and Jill Karofsky. Justice Annette Ziegler dissented, joined by Justices Rebecca Bradley and Patience Roggensack.

Ziegler said state statute prohibited Jendusa from having access to the database because “neither the State nor Jendusa claimed they would introduce the raw data at trial.”

Jendusa contends the database of Wisconsin offenders is key to demonstrating that Christopher Tyre, a DOC psychologist, used the wrong base from which to calculate the chances of repeated sexual violence.

The lawyers contend that using a base of Wisconsin offenders, rather than Canadian and Danish offenders, in a risk assessment tool used by the state, could significantly reduce the reoffense likelihood scored by his client Jendusa.

In fact, when Tyre finally gave a summary of the data in the email, the “preliminary (Wisconsin) base rate was roughly one-third of the base rate he relied on to predict Jendusa’s recidivism risk,” Dallet wrote.

Read the remainder of the piece here at Urban Milwaukee.

See the decision here.

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