Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Appeals Court Nixes Judge’s Shaming Order

Shoplifter ordered to notify management of her conviction whenever entering a store.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - May 16th, 2021 02:57 pm

Gavel. (Public Domain).

A Kenosha County judge overstepped when he ordered a shoplifter to give notice of her conviction to the management whenever she entered a place that sells goods to the public, a state Court of Appeals panel ruled this week.

“That condition is overly broad and also falls into the category of shaming, which the circuit court appeared to acknowledge at sentencing,” the three-judge panel wrote in an unsigned decision, invalidating the condition ordered by Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder.

“We are not persuaded that embarrassing or humiliating defendants with a state-imposed broad public notification requirement promotes their rehabilitation,” the panel said.  The panel included Appellate Judges Lisa S. NeubauerPaul F. Reilly, and Jeffrey O. Davis.

Markea L. Brown, 28, pleaded guilty to felony shoplifting in connection with helping to steal $2,655 worth of items from a store at the Pleasant Prairie Outlet Mall.

Schroeder sentenced her to 15 months in prison followed by two years of extended supervision. He also ordered, as conditions of her supervision, that Brown have no contact with the mall and to make the notifications of her conviction.

Brown challenged both conditions on appeal; the panel upheld the first, but struck down the second.

Schroeder told Brown the notification requirement “is ‘going to embarrass you, of course,’ ” the panel said. “It continued, noting that society no longer puts people in the stocks ‘to be embarrassed and humiliated … but [the court] feel[s] that embarrassment does have a valuable place in deterring criminality.’”

While Schroeder said he wanted to give merchants the opportunity to protect against theft, “the State has provided no legal support for the imposition of a requirement that repeat offenders must self-identify as they go about day-to-day life to personally notify any and all individual potential victims of their criminal history,” the panel said. “We do not see where such a requirement would start and stop.”

Brown has a history of shoplifting, according to online court records.

Brown, if required to notify store management of her conviction, could be refused service, even by those selling essential goods, such as groceries, the panel said.

“We understand that Brown has children, and as such the consequences of the condition could impact them as well,” the panel said.

The condition would result “in an overly broad ban, with consequences…that are not reasonably related to rehabilitation or protection of society,” the panel said.

“It is apparent that public shaming is the second condition’s primary effect; thus, we will require it vacated.”

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

One thought on “Court Watch: Appeals Court Nixes Judge’s Shaming Order”

  1. SiddyMonty says:

    Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder would have better served EVERYONE involved and victimized if he had mandated sending her to rehab, therapy…something to change her mindset…where this all started. Shaming does not serve.

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