State v. Quintana, No. 2006AP499-CR.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtAnnette Kingsland Ziegler
Citation2008 WI 33,748 N.W.2d 447
Docket NumberNo. 2006AP499-CR.
Decision Date01 May 2008
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Leonard J. QUINTANA, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner.
748 N.W.2d 447
2008 WI 33
STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Leonard J. QUINTANA, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner.
No. 2006AP499-CR.
Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
Argued October 31, 2007.
Decided May 1, 2008.

[748 N.W.2d 449]

For the defendant-respondent-petitioner there were briefs by James B. Connell, Robyn J. DeVos, and Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C., Wausau, and oral argument by William R. Kerner, William Robert Kerner Law Office, Milwaukee.

For the plaintiff-appellant there was oral argument by Christopher G. Wren, assistant attorney general, with whom on the brief was J.B. Van Hollen, attorney general.

¶ 1 ANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J.


This is a review of a published decision of the court of appeals,1 which reversed and remanded the decision of the Marathon County Circuit Court, Vincent K. Howard, Judge. The circuit court concluded that the forehead does not qualify as an "other bodily member" under Wisconsin's mayhem statute, Wis.Stat. § 940.21 (2003-04),2 and it concluded that the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer, Wis. Stat. § 939.632, was unconstitutional as applied to Quintana. The court of appeals reversed and remanded, and Quintana petitioned this court for review.

748 N.W.2d 450

We affirm the court of appeals' decision.

¶ 2 This appeal presents the following two issues: First, we must decide whether the forehead qualifies as an "other bodily member" under Wisconsin's mayhem statute. We conclude that the forehead qualifies as an "other bodily member" under Wis. Stat. § 940.21, Mayhem. Wisconsin's mayhem statute seeks to punish those who intentionally disable or disfigure another person's bodily member. The manner in which the legislature used the phrase, "other bodily member," requires that we give that phrase a broad construction. If "other bodily member" were to be narrowly construed, the construction would produce absurd results, and the purpose of the statute would easily be defeated. Because the legislature intended the phrase "other bodily member" to be construed broadly rather than narrowly, the phrase "other bodily member" in the mayhem statute encompasses all bodily parts, including a person's forehead. The application of the mayhem statute is limited by the need to prove that a person specifically intended to disable or disfigure.

¶ 3 Second, we must decide whether the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer3 is unconstitutional as applied to Quintana. We conclude that the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer is not unconstitutional as applied to Quintana. The legislature seeks to deter violent crime near schools in an effort to create a safety zone around schools. The 1,000-foot perimeter is a reasonable distance to try to accomplish this legislative goal. Quintana has failed to show that the penalty enhancer is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.

I. FACTS

¶ 4 At approximately four o'clock in the morning on September 4, 2004, Leonard Quintana allegedly entered the bedroom of his sleeping ex-wife, Shannon Quintana, and struck her on the head with a hammer. Police officers who responded to the scene described Shannon's head and hair as covered in blood, and they described a large amount of blood located at the head of the bed. Additionally, police officers stated that the walls, window shades, and dresser were spattered with blood.

¶ 5 The neurosurgeon who treated Shannon, Dr. Dennis Mollman, testified at Quintana's preliminary hearing on March 28, 2005. Dr. Mollman stated that Shannon suffered "approximately three blows to the head." One blow was done with a sharp instrument and resulted in a scalp laceration that started just above the eyebrow and continued to behind the ear. The impact caused a skull fracture, which resulted in fragments of the skull tearing the lining of the brain otherwise known as the dura. This blow also caused spinal fluid to leak into the wound. Dr. Mollman testified that it takes significant force to fracture the forehead part of the skull. He stated that the CT scan revealed a "significant intracranial injury with air inside the brain [and] blood inside the brain." He concluded that this "type of injury carries [the] potential [of] dying from it."

¶ 6 Shannon suffered two other blows to the head: one located on the left side of her head near the temple region, and the second located on the right side of her head just in front of the ear. Dr. Mollman further stated that Shannon suffers from post-traumatic headaches, which will likely be life-long, and she suffers from memory

748 N.W.2d 451

deficits, which will probably end within a year of the injury.

¶ 7 A criminal complaint was filed on September 7, 2004.4 The mayhem charge at issue was added in the amended information, which was filed November 23, 2005. It charged Quintana with four counts: (1) mayhem, with violent crime in a school zone, domestic abuse, and use of a dangerous weapon enhancers; (2) first-degree reckless injury, with domestic abuse and dangerous weapon enhancers; (3) aggravated battery, with violent crime in a school zone, domestic abuse, and use of a dangerous weapon enhancers; and (4) solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide.

¶ 8 Quintana objected to the amended information. He argued that, as a matter of law, the allegations did not support the offense of mayhem, and the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer was unconstitutional as applied to him. The circuit court agreed and concluded that the mayhem charge was improper because "other bodily member" was limited to those parts of the body listed or associated with the parts listed in the mayhem statute. The circuit court reasoned that skin or bone, like that found in the forehead, can be found throughout the human body, and therefore, interpreting the statute to include the forehead would eliminate any limitations in the mayhem statute as to what parts of the body are included. The circuit court also concluded that the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer was unconstitutional as applied to Quintana because it is extremely unlikely that "domestic violence" would ever endanger students in school, and the proximity of the school bears no logical relationship to a legitimate government interest.

¶ 9 In a published decision, the court of appeals reversed the circuit court's order. State v. Quintana, 2007 WI App 29, 299 Wis.2d 234, 729 N.W.2d 776. It concluded that "the mayhem statute covers cutting or mutilation to the forehead." Id., ¶ 17. It reasoned that because the forehead is skin and bone protecting parts of the brain, an attack on the forehead threatens injury to the brain. Therefore, the forehead is an "other bodily member." The court, however, declined to conclude that the entire head was an "other bodily member."

¶ 10 The court of appeals also concluded that the violent crime in a school zone penalty enhancer, Wis. Stat. § 939.632, is not unconstitutional as applied to Quintana because there are "rational, reasonable bases" for the penalty enhancer. The court reasoned that it is clear the legislature sought to create a protective zone around schools regardless of time of day, calendar date, or whether children are actually present. The court of appeals was persuaded by the State's list of plausible reasons for the statute's creation, such as children congregate around schools, increased concentration of children near schools, and the likelihood that violent crime in the home could "spill over into public areas."

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 11 "Statutory interpretation is an issue of law which we review de novo. While the review is de novo, this court benefits from the analyses of the circuit court and the court of appeals." Megal

748 N.W.2d 452

Dev. Corp. v. Shadof, 2005 WI 151, ¶ 8, 286 Wis.2d 105, 705 N.W.2d 645.

¶ 12 The constitutionality of a statute is a question of law, which this court determines independently of both the circuit court and court of appeals but still benefiting from their analyses. State v. Radke, 2003 WI 7, ¶ 11, 259 Wis.2d 13, 657 N.W.2d 66. "All statutes enjoy a presumption of constitutionality and the heavy burden of overcoming this presumption lies with the person attacking the statute." Id. "This court will sustain a statute against a constitutional challenge if there is `any reasonable basis' for the statute" even if that reasonable basis is not expressly stated by the legislature. Id. "[I]f the court can conceive of facts on which the legislation could reasonably be based, it must uphold the legislation as constitutional." Id.

III. ANALYSIS

¶ 13 At issue in this case is the meaning of the phrase "other bodily member" in Wis. Stat. § 940.21, Mayhem. The mayhem statute provides, "[w]hoever, with intent to disable or disfigure another, cuts or mutilates the tongue, eye, ear, nose, lip, limb or other bodily member of another is guilty of a Class C felony." "[T]he purpose of statutory interpretation is to determine what the statute means so that it may be given its full, proper, and intended effect." State ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Ct. for Dane County, 2004 WI 58, ¶ 44, 271 Wis.2d 633, 681 N.W.2d 110. This court begins statutory interpretation with the language of a statute. Id., ¶ 45. If the meaning of the statute is plain, we ordinarily stop the inquiry and give the language its "common, ordinary, and accepted meaning, except that technical or specially-defined words or phrases are given their technical or special definitional meaning." Id.

¶ 14 Context and structure of a statute are important to the meaning of the statute. Id., ¶ 46. "Therefore, statutory language is interpreted in the context in which it is used; not in isolation but as part of a whole; in relation to the language of surrounding or closely-related statutes; and reasonably, to avoid absurd or unreasonable results." Id. Moreover, the "statutory language is read where possible to give reasonable effect to every word, in order to avoid...

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34 practice notes
  • Waity v. Lemahieu, 2021AP802
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 27 Enero 2022
    ...property" under § 16.74(1) as all items in the list must, by statute, be "required within the legislative branch." See State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶35, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447 (noting that, under the noscitur a sociis canon, a list of specific items indicated a general common mean......
  • State v. O'Brien, Nos. 2012AP1769–CR, 2012AP1770–CR, 2012AP1863–CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 9 Julio 2014
    ...by the circuit court and the court of appeals. State v. Muckerheide, 2007 WI 5, ¶ 17, 298 Wis.2d 553, 725 N.W.2d 930; State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 12, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447. ¶ 17 A party challenging the constitutionality of a statute bears the burden of showing beyond a reasona......
  • State v. Iverson, No. 2014AP515–FT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 25 Noviembre 2015
    ...words in the statutory text, the general words should be construed in light of the specific words listed." 365 Wis.2d 321State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 27, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447 (citation omitted). The specific words "garbage," "refuse," and "sludge from a waste treatment plant, ......
  • Bostco LLC v. Milwaukee Metro. Sewerage Dist., Nos. 2007AP221
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 18 Julio 2013
    ...that the distinction does not implicate a suspect class or impinge upon a fundamental right. See [350 Wis.2d 602]State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 79, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447. Because Bostco does not assert that it is a member of a protected class, or that recovery in tort from a gove......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • Waity v. Lemahieu, 2021AP802
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 27 Enero 2022
    ...property" under § 16.74(1) as all items in the list must, by statute, be "required within the legislative branch." See State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶35, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447 (noting that, under the noscitur a sociis canon, a list of specific items indicated a general common mean......
  • State v. O'Brien, Nos. 2012AP1769–CR, 2012AP1770–CR, 2012AP1863–CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 9 Julio 2014
    ...by the circuit court and the court of appeals. State v. Muckerheide, 2007 WI 5, ¶ 17, 298 Wis.2d 553, 725 N.W.2d 930; State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 12, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447. ¶ 17 A party challenging the constitutionality of a statute bears the burden of showing beyond a reasona......
  • State v. Iverson, No. 2014AP515–FT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 25 Noviembre 2015
    ...words in the statutory text, the general words should be construed in light of the specific words listed." 365 Wis.2d 321State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 27, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447 (citation omitted). The specific words "garbage," "refuse," and "sludge from a waste treatment plant, ......
  • Bostco LLC v. Milwaukee Metro. Sewerage Dist., Nos. 2007AP221
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 18 Julio 2013
    ...that the distinction does not implicate a suspect class or impinge upon a fundamental right. See [350 Wis.2d 602]State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶ 79, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447. Because Bostco does not assert that it is a member of a protected class, or that recovery in tort from a gove......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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