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BREAKING NEWS / URGENT: The State Supreme Court upholds Act 10, Voter ID, and the state's domestic partnership registry

MADISON, Wis (WSAU)  - The Wisconsin State Supreme Court upheld Act 10, the state law that limits the collective bargaining rights of state employees. The law from three years ago sparked protests at the state capital and led to the recall attempt against Governor Scott Walker. The court's ruling in favor of Act 10 was 5-2. Justice Michael Gableman wrote the lead opinion, which was also signed by Justices David Prosser, Pat Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. Justice Patrick Crooks concurre...

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Civil commitments more common than people think, says attorney general's office

Assistant AG Roy Korte expla... (Download MP3)

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAU) – Officials with the state attorney generals office say civil commitments like the one handed down this week for a Marshfield man happen more often than people think.

Assistant AG Roy Korte says only a few people each year are brought up for the commitment orders, but the numbers add up. "Since the law was put into place, a little over 700 cases have been filed."  Around 480 of those cases have resulted in commitments.  

The Chapter 980 hearing allows the state to hold a person deemed to be sexually violent until they are no longer a danger to society. That was demonstrated this week as a Marshfield man was ordered held. 56-year-old John Smith Junior will remain in jail until the state finds him to be no longer sexually violent.

Smith was convicted in 1992 of five counts of first-degree sexual assault. He was due to be released in February 2011 after serving a 20-year prison sentence. But the attorney general’s office filed a petition asking that Smith be committed under the state’s sexual violence law.

Witnesses and doctors testified during a two day court trial Monday and Tuesday. A judge ruled that there was enough evidence to prove Smith was a danger to society and was to be held until he was no longer a danger.

Korte says it's important to note that the people held under these hearings do not lose their rights to a fair hearing or treatment. "They have a right to an examiner, a right to an attorney, to a jury trial." Those held also have the right to regular examinations and hearings to determine if they're ready for release.