Right to counsel

Litigation, Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

In State ex rel. Seibert v. Macht, 627 N.W.2d 881, 885-86 (Wis. 2001), the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that a person adjudicated to be sexually dangerous has a constitutional right to appointed counsel in their by-right appeal, as well as a right to effective assistance of such counsel.  The court relied upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 357-58 (1963), which had held that states providing a by-right appeal in criminal cases had to provide appointed counsel for that appeal, and the Seibert court went on to hold, “[a]lthough a sexually violent person, committed under [Wis. Stat. § 980], is not a criminal defendant, he or she has the same constitutional rights as a criminal defendant. [ ] It therefore follows that an individual committed under Chapter 980 has a constitutional right of counsel in bringing his or her first appeal as of right, emanating from both the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause as well as the Sixth Amendment's right of counsel.”  Id. at 885-86 (internal citation omitted).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes