MADISON - A Fond du Lac County judge's actions during two separate trials are being reviewed Wednesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
At issue is the public's access to the courts and the defendants' Constitutional rights.
In one case, Nancy Pinno was convicted in 2009 of mutilating a corpse for helping her son, Brandon Mueller, cover up the murder of Renee Redmer.
In the other, Travis Seaton was convicted in 2008 of reckless homicide for the death of Keith Rockweit.
After nearly two hours of arguments, the fate of these two cases is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court justices. Cases, attorneys say, violated their client's constitutional rights.
”When somebody's rights are violated to a public trial there's really no other effective remedy other than giving them a new trial because nobody can really calculate exactly how it would have changed the outcome,” explained Leonard Kachinsky, Pinno's Attorney.
The attorneys say Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Richard Nuss closed the courtrooms during jury selection in both cases without following the standard review.
The state argued there was no evidence anyone was actually removed during the proceedings in the Pinno case. However Seaton's attorney says their client's case was different.
”They were violated twice when the judge removed people from the courtroom, to make room for the large panel and then secondly, when officers guarded the courtroom door and didn't let anyone back in, and that may have happened outside the judges awareness,” said Amelia Bizzaro, Seaton's Attorney.
”We're not really talking about violation of a public trial right that's trivial, we're talking about no violation because the core values of the public trial right were in fact not harmed here,” said Asst. Attorney General for the Seaton Case, Daniel O'Brien during Wednesday’s hearing.
The state disagrees with the two arguments. Especially since neither defendant objected at the time.
”By failing to object in this case, Pinno, forfeited her right to assert a violation of her rights in an appeal,” explained Gregory Weber, Asst. Attorney General in the Pinno case.
It's unclear exactly when the justices will make a decision on these cases. However, the attorneys say it could take as long as a few months.
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