Wisconsin State Public Defender

The Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) has been providing "justice for all" since 1977, and is an independent, executive-branch state agency that ensures Wisconsin meets its constitutional requirement of providing legal representation to the indigent.

The mission of the Wisconsin State Public Defender is to zealously represent clients, protect constitutional rights, and advocate for an effective and fair criminal justice system.  Our commitment is to treat our clients with dignity and compassion.  Vision statement:  The Wisconsin State Public Defender Office will lead the way in protecting justice for all.

The agency provides legal representation to the indigent throughout the state in all of Wisconsin's 72 counties.  Organizationally, the SPD has 37 local trial offices, 2 appellate offices and a central administrative office.  The agency utilizes staff attorneys as well as contract private attorneys (to handle conflict and overflow cases).

The SPD's website provides resources to clients and potential clients, private attorneys who are certified to take SPD case appointments, individuals involved in the criminal justice system, and the public interested in the state agency that delivers on Wisconsin's constitutional requirement regarding indigent defense.

SPD Main Telephone number: 608-266-0087

Wisconsin State Public Defender Blogs

Latest from Wisconsin State Public Defender

State v. D.A.M., 2020AP821, District 2, 11/25/20 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity The evidence at D.A.M.’s trial was sufficient to show his conduct constituted a terrorist threat under § 947.019. D.A.M. was not supposed to be on the premises of Bradford High School, so when he appeared on school property J.S., the dean […]…
State v. Michael Anthony Dotson, 2019AP1082-CR, District 3, 11/24/20 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Though this is a “close case” (¶28), the objectively reasonable inferences from the totality of the facts and circumstances known to the officer who stopped Dotson’s car did not provide reasonable suspicion to believe that Dotson’s blood […]…
State v. Kevin L. Nash, 2020 WI 85, 11/19/20, affirming a per curiam court of appeals decision; case activity (including briefs) Before accepting a plea entered under North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), a circuit court must determine whether there is “strong proof of guilt” sufficient to “substantially negate” the defendant’s claims of […]…
State v. Richard L. Pringle, 2020AP6-CR, 11/17/20, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) No witness, expert or otherwise, may give an opinion that a mentally competent witness is telling the truth. State v. Haseltine, 120 Wis. 2d 92, 352 N.W.2d 673 (Ct. App. 1984).  This case, which the court of appeals […]…
Fond du Lac County v. S.N.W., 2019AP2073, petition granted 11/19/20; case activity Issues presented: 1. Did the circuit court lack competency to adjudicate this Chapter 51 commitment proceeding due to the county’s violation of the rule requiring it to file psychiatric reports 48 hours before the final hearing? 2. If the circuit court retained competency, […]…
United States v. Cooley, USSC No. 19-1414, cert. granted 11-20-20 Question presented: Whether the lower courts erred in suppressing evidence on the theory that a police officer of an Indian tribe lacked authority to temporarily detain and search respondent, a non-Indian, on a public right-of-way within a reservation based on a potential violation of state […]…
Caniglia v. Strom, USSC No. 20-157, cert granted 11/20/20 Question presented: Whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home. Lower court decision: 953 F.3d 112 (1st Cir. 2020). Docket Scotusblog page (including links to filings and commentary) The Supreme Court announced the “community caretaking” exception to the warrant […]…
State v. George Steven Burch, 2019AP404-CR, certification granted 11/18/20; case activity (including briefs) Issues presented (from the certification): Did police violate Burch’s Fourth Amendment rights by: exceeding the scope of Burch’s consent to search his cell phone by downloading the phone’s entire contents, rather than only the text messages; unlawfully retaining the entire cell phone […]…