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MADISON - Relying on arguments made by attorneys from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (the Seventh Circuit) today rejected Charles R. Cianciola's challenge to his 2002 Outagamie County conviction for sexually assaulting a child.
A defendant who claims that his state court conviction violated the United States Constitution may obtain review of those claims in the federal court system. Here, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and the Seventh Circuit both concluded that Cianciola received the effective assistance of counsel at his trial, as required by the Sixth Amendment.
At Cianciola's Outagamie County trial, the prosecution presented expert testimony to explain the child-victim's delayed reporting of the assault and her continued contact with Cianciola. Cianciola argued that his trial counsel did not adequately cross-examine those witnesses or present his own defense experts to refute their testimony. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, concluding that trial counsel's performance did not result in prejudice to Cianciola's case. The federal court focused on the significance of incriminating statements made by Cianciola and the credibility of his child-victim's version of events.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the decision. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice vigorously defends the criminal convictions obtained in our State's courts," said Van Hollen. "I applaud the Seventh Circuit's decision to sustain Cianciola's conviction for sexually assaulting a child."
Cianciola remains incarcerated at the Redgranite Correctional Institution in Redgranite, Wisconsin.
The Seventh Circuit's decision in Charles R. Cianciola v. Mike Dittman, No. 09-1867, appears on the court's website:
The Outagamie County District Attorney's Office prosecuted Cianciola in Outagamie County Circuit Court. Assistant Attorney General Warren D. Weinstein represented the State in all federal court proceedings.