State v. Braunsdorf

In State v. Braunsdorf, 98 Wis. 2d 569, 297 N.W.2d 808 (Wis. 1980), the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected the argument that trial courts have inherent authority to dismiss a case with prejudice for a failure to prosecute. The court reasoned that although judicial economy weighed in favor of inherent authority, "a dismissal in a criminal case has broader implications for society as a whole." Id. at 816. The court found that where "the defendant's constitutional rights are not implicated . . . the competing interests involved are the need of the court to have a remedy for the sort of conduct shown here by the assistant district attorney, as well as to exercise control over its calendar, and that of society to be secure from crime through the regular enforcement of the criminal laws." Id. The court concluded that "the balance weighs heavily in favor of society's interests" and held that trial courts did not have inherent authority to dismiss criminal cases with prejudice. Id. In People v. Santos, 1999 Guam 1, the government challenged the trial court's grant of a defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence, arguing that the court had improperly used and considered an affidavit from defendant. 1999 Guam 1 at PP 7, 12. The defendant's affidavit, which was attached to the suppression motion, indicated that his consent to a search of his home had been obtained through coercion. Id. at P7. At the suppression hearing, this affidavit was not introduced or otherwise admitted into evidence; the only evidence presented was the testimony of a police officer, who was a government witness. Id. at P8. The Court reversed the trial court's suppression of evidence, and examined the different purposes and uses of affidavits in suppression hearings. Id. at PP 2, 19-25. To put things simply, the trial court in Santos erred in considering and using an affidavit that had not been introduced into evidence; also there had been no notice that it would consider the affidavit in making its decision. Id. at P25.