Sheriff David A. Clarke professes to know a lot about race, crime, and politics, but he testified under oath to his total ignorance about how many Sheriff's Department staff members were referred to the District Attorney's office for potential criminal charges.
Clarke said he did not know whether 20 or more than 200 Sheriff's Department employees were referred in a single year.
"I don't know," he responded repeatedly when questioned by a lawyer in a deposition.
And having 200 employees referred to the DA would indeed be a problem, the sheriff testified, because "it would wipe out a good portion of my force."
Clarke was questioned by an attorney for a former County Jail inmate who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier Thicklen on four occasions in 2013. Thicklen allegedly used his position to create opportunities for the assaults and to ensure the woman's compliance.
Thicklen eventually was convicted of one count of misconduct in public office, but denied the assaults ever occurred.
The woman's case against Milwaukee County, Thicklen, Clarke and other jail employees is pending before U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller.
Clarke was deposed by the woman's lawyer in December 2015.
Q: How many other sheriff's employees in the year before charges -- criminal charges were sent to the District Attorney's office, how many other sheriff's employees went through a similar process?
Clarke: I don't know.
Clarke: I don't know.
Clarke: I don't know.
Clarke: I don't know.
Q: It could have been 100 other of your employees who had criminal charges sent to the District Attorney's office during the same year as Thicklen?
Clarke: I don't know.
"Well, it would wipe out a good portion of my force." --Sheriff David Clarke
Q: Okay. Could it have been as many as 200 such employees?
Clarke: I don't know.
Q: Okay. But it could have been 200; you don't know one way or the other?
Clarke: I don't know.
Q: You don't know if it was more than 200 or less than 200?
(One of Clarke's lawyers objected to the form of the question.)
Q: You don't know if it was more or less than 200 people?
Clarke: I don't know.
Q: Would it be fair to say that you would be concerned if 200 of your employees had criminal charges sent to the District Attorney's office?
(Clarke's lawyer again objected to the form of the question, but Clarke was allowed to answer.)
Clarke: Well, it would wipe out a good portion of my force.
Q: I'm sorry?
Clarke: It would wipe out a good portion of my force; of course it would be problematic.
Part 2 of 2 You can read Part 1 here.
Below is our second offering of excerpts from the ACLU's lawsuit filed against State Department of Corrections officials that alleges shocking treatment of juveniles at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons. The state has not yet responded.
Lincoln Hills (LH) and Copper Lake (CL) hold 150-200 youth as young as 14 years old, according to the suit.
Yesterday's excerpts dealt with the prisons' use, overuse, and abuse of solitary confinement. Today we'll take a look at allegations involving pepper spray.
And here's an interesting thing -- the Department of Corrections' policy allows the use of chemical chemical agents "to 'enforce a DOC rule, a posted policy or procedure or an order of staff member,' even when there is no risk of "harm to staff or youth or danger to the security of the institution," according to the ACLU suit.
The state's administrative code, meanwhile, prohibits using chemical agents as discipline.
"A juvenile may not be disciplined by corporal or unusual punishment, intentional humiliation, mental abuse, interference with the daily functions of living, the use of chemical agents, the use of restraints such as handcuffs or shackles, or by placement in a cell designed for the administrative or disciplinary segregation of adults." (Wis. Adm. Code § 347.47 (2010).
"...guards at LHS and CLS have used pepper spray on the youth in their care at least 198 times in the period January through October 2016.
...guards at LHS and CLS have used pepper spray on the youth in their care at least 198 times in the period January through October 2016.
Guards at LHS and CLS use several different forms of pepper spray on youth in their custody, including “Bear Mace,” which is marketed as being able to protect hikers from charging bears. Other types of pepper spray in use at LHS and CLS include Phantom and Ghost. Some pepper sprays are used to create a cloud which will fill the youth’s cell. Others are sprayed directly at the face or body of a youth.
Guards at LHS and CLS use several different forms of pepper spray on youth in their custody, including “Bear Mace,” which is marketed as being able to protect hikers from charging bears.
After youth are pepper sprayed, they are routinely locked into a cage in a shower. The effects of the spray are temporarily worsened by exposure to water and spread to sensitive areas such as the groin, causing intense pain. To avoid this acute increase in pain, some youth
choose not to turn on the shower, but as a result the spray remains on their skin, prolonging the duration of their pain.
After youth are pepper sprayed, they are routinely locked into a cage in a shower. The effects of the spray are temporarily worsened by exposure to water and spread to sensitive areas such as the groin, causing intense pain.
Youth at CLS and LHS have described being pepper sprayed as “feeling like you were hit a hundred times.” The effects of the spray can last for days, and are reactivated by water even days later, such as when the child washes his or her face.
Youth at CLS and LHS have described being pepper sprayed as “feeling like you were hit a hundred times.”
Part 1 of 2
Below are excerpts from the ACLU's lawsuit against State Department of Corrections officials that alleges shocking treatment of juveniles at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons. The allegations are deeply, deeply disturbing. The state has not yet responded.
Lincoln Hills (LH) and Copper Lake (CL) hold 150-200 youth as young as 14 years old, according to the suit.
Currently, Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections officials lock up approximately 15 to 20% percent or more of the facilities’ young residents in solitary confinement cells for 22 or 23 hours per day. Many of these children are forced to spend their only free hour of time per day outside of a solitary confinement cell in handcuffs and chained to a table. Officers also repeatedly and excessively use Bear Mace and other pepper sprays against the youth, causing them excruciating pain and impairing their breathing. ...
Many of these children are forced to spend their only free hour of time per day outside of a solitary confinement cell in handcuffs and chained to a table.
For another look at juvenile solitary confinement, see "This is What Happens When We Lock Children in Solitary Confinement" in the January / February issue of Mother Jones magazine.
A cell in the segregation units is approximately seven by ten feet. The cell is entered through a large metal door which swings out. The door has a small glass window about nose height and one or two slots through which food trays are passed. Youth extend their forearms through the door slot before and after being placed in the cell so that the guards may lock or unlock the handcuffs they must wear when they are out of their cells. The single window to the outside is covered with bars. ...
A light in the segregation cell stays lit 24 hours per day.
A light in the segregation cell stays lit 24 hours per day. The light is dimmed from approximately 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. but is not turned off. The segregation cells are dirty and smell like sweat and urine.
Defendants often sentence youth to solitary confinement even for infractions that do not pose a serious threat to safety, such as disrespecting staff, refusing to lock into a cell, or
Defendants often sentence youth to solitary confinement for periods of 30 or 60 days for a variety of offenses—especially when youth have been disciplined previously, or for fighting regardless of whether the altercation was likely to or did result in injury. Even when youth are charged with relatively minor rule infractions, they often spend up to 14 days in segregation while they await the issuance of a conduct report and a hearing, and then frequently get a few additional days from the hearing examiner as punishment.
The segregation cells are dirty and smell like sweat and urine.
Boys receive only a small amount of toilet paper and must request more when they need it. Boys also may not flush their toilets themselves, but must ask the guards to turn the toilet on to allow them to flush it. Because the girls’ solitary cells do not have a sink or toilet, the girls must push a call button and ask guards to be escorted to the bathroom. Guards sometimes take a long time to respond to requests to use the bathroom.
The girls must push a call button and ask guards to be escorted to the bathroom. Guards sometimes take a long time to respond to requests to use the bathroom.
Defendants also significantly limit the education youth held in solitary confinement receive. In the general population, the youth typically receive four to five hours of education Monday-Friday.
In solitary confinement, Defendants’ pattern and practice is to reduce this educational programming to a single hour outside the cell with a teacher who comes to the segregation unit and meets with about three youth at a time. During this time, they may be locked to a desk in the classroom.
In solitary confinement, Defendants’ ... reduce this educational programming to a single hour outside the cell ... During this time, (youth) may be locked to a desk in the classroom.
In addition, when Defendants put youth into segregation, they revoke access to the very programs which might help and rehabilitate the youth, such as Aggression Replacement Training (ART) and the Juvenile Cognitive Intervention Program (Phases I and II). If a youth misses more than a few sessions of any such program because he or she is in solitary confinement, Defendants require the youth to start the program over from the beginning.
Defendants require the youth to start the program over from the beginning.
Solitary confinement is particularly damaging to youth, who are still developing
physically, psychologically, and socially.
Youth in segregation face a significant risk of serious mental harm. Solitary confinement negatively impacts juveniles by perpetuating, worsening, or precipitating mental health concerns, including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorders, psychosis, anxiety disorders, major depression, hyper-vigilance, agitation, general lack of trust, suicidal ideation, suicidal intent, self-mutilation, and suicidal behavior.
... post-traumatic stress disorders, psychosis, anxiety disorders, major depression, hyper-vigilance, agitation, general lack of trust, suicidal ideation, suicidal intent, self-mutilation, and suicidal behavior.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (“NCCHC”), for example, issued a statement establishing that juveniles should not be placed in solitary confinement for any duration ...
... juveniles should not be placed in solitary confinement for any duration ...
The USDOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Standards for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ... provide that no juvenile should be placed in room confinement for more than twenty-four hours.
...no juvenile should be placed in room confinement for more than twenty-four hours.
The number of cases filed in Milwaukee Municipal Court plunged by almost 8,000 in 2016 and by more than 75,000 -- 54% -- in the last five years, records show.
The three Municipal Court judges presided over 65,007 cases in 2016, down 11% from the 72,923 Cases heard in 2015. In 2011, there were 140,181 cases in Municipal Court, or 75,174 more than there were last year, according to Municipal Court statistics.
The continuing decline is bound to raise new questions about the need for three full-time Municipal Court judges, as the average caseload in the three regular branches (excluding Branch A, a court for in-custody defendants) dropped from 46,032 in 2011 to 21,392 last year, a decline of 24,639 cases per judge.
Ald. Terry Witkowski during 2017 budget deliberations proposed eliminating a court branch, but that was defeated after judges suggested the lower case loads allowed them to spend more time on each case. In addition, according to the city's proposed budget, caseloads were up as of July. Witkowski could not be reached for comment Monday. The 2017 budget for Municipal Court is $4.8 million.
Traffic offenses remain the most common type of Municipal Court case and account for 68% of all cases, Still, while traffic offenses are of increasing concern to aldermen and city residents, the number of traffic cases was down, by seven percent from 2015 to 2016 and by 54% from 2011 to 2016.
The Milwaukee Common Council this week approved paying $110,000 to settle a federal court lawsuit alleging police officers illegally searched a man's home, threw him to the ground and beat him hard enough to break his eye socket.
City Attorney Grant Langley said in a letter to the council that settling the case was "deemed expeditious."
The suit, filed less than six months ago and pending before U.S. Senior District Judge Charles N. Clevert, was settled with remarkable speed, considering it involved federal court litigation. The suit alleged excessive force, false arrest and detention, and unlawful entry.
One of the police officer defendants in the case, Daniel J. Vidmar, was dismissed from the Milwaukee Police Department in 2014 for falsifying documents so he could take a bicycle home from police inventory. The other two officers named as defendants were Raynaldo Roman, Jr. and Joseph Zawikowski.
Mason alleged he was grilling at his home on May 29, 2012 when officers from a bicycle patrol came to the door looking for a person who had just exited a car nearby. The person was Mason's son, who entered the house, according to the complaint in the lawsuit.
When Mason went outside to check on the grill, he found Roman standing by his door. The officer asked who had just run inside.
Mason "asked what he meant, and said that no one had run inside his house," the complaint said.
(Officer) Vidmar told him to "shut the f--- up."
Mason's son came out of the house and Roman handcuffed him, took him into custody. and turned him over to a fourth officer, who led him away. Mason followed, asking what his son had done to be arrested, but returned to the house when he heard his grandchildren screaming, the complaint said. He found the three defendants inside his house, which they entered without permission before conducting a warrantless search.
Mason told the three officers to leave his house. Vidmar told him to "shut the f--- up." After Mason again told the officers to leave, Vidmar grabbed Mason's left wrist and slammed him into a wall. Vidmar and Roman took Mason to the ground and flipped him on his back.
Vidmar, "still pinning (Mason) to the ground on his back, then pulled a small black object from his belt, and forcibly struck (Mason) on or about the left eye with it several times, fracturing (Mason's) left orbital rim," the complaint said. Roman and Zawikowski did not intervene to help or protect Mason, the complaint said.
Mason was arrested and taken to the police station, where he sat for several hours before being taken to a hospital for medical attention. No charges were filed against him, the complaint said.
(Full disclosure: The suit was filed by the Strang Bradley and Carlson, Blau & Clemens law firms. Dean Strang, a principal in Strang Bradley, is on the WJI board. He was not in any way involved in the preparation of this story.)
"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Nicholas J. Brazeau, Jr.
Appointed to: Wood County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Sept. 16, 2011; ran unopposed in 2012.
Law School – Loyola University Chicago - School of Law
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (attended 1991-1993)
Universit of Wisconsin-Madison (attended 1987-1989)
High School - no information provided by applicant
1997 - present – Partner in Brazeau, Wefel, Kryshak & Nettesheim
State Bar of Illinois
State Bar of Wisconsin
Wood County Bar Association
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Experience in criminal litigation, civil litigation and administrative proceedings; handled family law, guardian ad litem work, business cases.
When I first started practicing law in Wisconsin Rapids, I accepted public defender cases as a private attorney. That practice brought me to the courtroom for a variety of criminal proceedings for a large part of the start of my career ... It also allowed me to experience a difficult clientele not motivated by the cost of your service. Those clients taught me about the value of treating everyone with equal respect.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 10; non-jury, 100+; administrative bodies, 5+.
Number of cases on appeal: Five cases listed.
Professional or civic organizations, volunteer activities, service in a church or synagogue, or any other activities or hobbies that could be relevant or helpful to consideration of the application:
Fortunately or unfortunately, any appointed judge is going to have to run in an election shortly after the appointment. ... I have also already taken steps to begin to prepare for that election, which I am confident that I will win. -- Wood County Circuit Judge Nicholas J. Brazeau, Jr.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: Informally supported two friends, District Attorney Gregory J. Potter and Richard Weymouth, who sought judicial seats, Potter through appointment and Weymouth through election.
Pro bono legal work:
I have engaged in a large amount of pro bono work in my practice, primarily for previous public defender or otherwise disadvantaged clients who have returned to me with the ability to pay.
Why I want to be a judge – I want to become a judge because I believe I can make a difference to my community and help to guide it in a reasonable and respectful manner. …
I am aware that the position of judge requires a tremendous amount of work. I have watched the three judges that currently serve in Wood County, and I am amazed at the tireless work that they put in both in the courtroom and in chambers. All of them are also involved beyond their regular work in Circuit Court...
Once I have had a chance to establish myself after the next election, I look forward to serving as a leader in the community and participating in the positive development of the courts. ...
Best or worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years - Santosky v. Kramer
I cannot say with certainty that it is either the best or worst Supreme Court case in the last thirty years. Santosky v. Kramer is a case that has had a strong impact on me. I believe the case is important because it draws a line between the inalienable rights of a parent and the inalienable right of a child, as they are addressed by our legal system.
Santosky stands for the idea that our children are not just a parent's physical property, but something far more important, and entitled to special protection in the courts. -- Brazeau
In Santosky, the State of New York sought to terminate the parental rights of the Santosky's. Under New York statutes at the time, a parent's unfitness could be determined by a showing of neglect. The burden of proof for showing that neglect was the preponderance of the evidence. New York courts made such a finding and on appeal found that the burden of proof used was appropriate. The United States Supreme Court accepted the Santosky's appeal and reversed, requiring the New York court to use the "clear and convincing" burden in determining unfitness of a parent for purposes of termination of parental rights.
I believe this case is important because of the tremendous change in the rights afforded to a parent by the use of a different standard regarding the burden of proof. If only required to use the preponderance standard, the Supreme Court pointed out that parental rights would be treated no differently than money sought by one party versus another in any common civil case. The court noted that the right of a parent to enjoy the company and closeness of their children is far greater than any property right. …
Santosky upholds the tradition in this country that we tolerate differences and are willing to allow parents to raise their children in a number of different ways. However, it also sets the bar in determining when a state may take the extraordinary step of terminating the parent-child relationship.
Santosky stands for the idea that our children are not just a parent's physical property, but something far more important, and entitled to special protection in the courts.
Other information you feel would be helpful to your application – While I believe that the appointment process primarily considers the qualifications of the applicants, I know there are times when there are many qualified applicants for the same position. Fortunately or unfortunately, any appointment judge is going to have to run in an election shortly after the appointment.
My family has a long history in the State of Wisconsin, the county of Wood and the city of Wisconsin Rapids. I believe that I have good relationships across a wide range of residents in my county. I have also already taken steps to begin to prepare for that election, which I am confident that I will win.
Almost three-quarters of money raised last year by Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler's campaign came through donations of $1,000 or more, campaign records show.
Ziegler raised $373,106 last year and had $288,920 on hand at the end of 2016, according to her January finance report.
Ziegler is unopposed in the April 4 election.
Ziegler received 86 donations of $1,000 or more in 2016. Those large donations totaled $267,800, or almost three-quarters of the amount her campaign raised, record show. Twelve donors kicked in $10,000 or more.
Ziegler accepted $1,000 from the Wisconsin Bankers Association PAC, according to the January report. The Association is one of the corporate lobbying groups that signed a letter to Gov. Scott Walker urging him to grant pay raises to Ziegler and other judges in the state.
The charts below show only individual donations of $1,000 or more. Multiple donations totaling $1,000 or more are not included. The Realtors Political Action Committee, the political arm of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, for instance, made three $500 donations to Ziegler's campaign on June 23, for a total of $1,500. Those donations are not shown. The Realtors Association also signed on to the letter asking Walker to give raises to judges.
Auto dealer Michael Darrow's June 15 $1,000 contribution was a conduit contribution, meaning individual donors bundled their contributions.
Big-money donors to Ziegler's uncontested campaign included Daniel McKeithan, executive officer and director of Tamarack Petroleum Co. ($20,000); billionaire Diane Hendricks, chairman of ABC Supply Co. ($10,000); conservative mega-donor Richard Uihlein, CEO of Uline, Inc. ($10,000); businessman John Burke ($10,000); James Schloemer, chairman and CEO of Continental Properties Inc. ($10,000); and fast food restaurant owner Steve Kilian, president of Kilian Management Services ($10,000).
Here are the names of the 54 retired judges with a combined 1,133 years experience on the bench who filed a petition to adopt stricter recusal requirements related to campaign spending:
Glenn Hartley, James Miller, Michael Kirchman, John Albert, Sue Bischel, Richard Brown,Fred Kawalski, Darryl Deets, Francis Wasielewski, James Evenson, Thomas Donegan, C.W. Foust, James Bolgert, Michael Lucci, Dale Pasell, Dennis Luebke, Michael Nowakowski, Moria Krueger, Susan Steingass, David Flanagan, Stuart Schwartz, Benjamin Proctor, Janine Geske, Michael Skwierawski, Robert Kinney, Gordon Myse, Gerald Nichol, Diane Sorensen, Andrew Bissonnette, Dennis Montabon, Daniel Moeser, William Stewart, Jr., Sarah O’Brien, Maryann Sumi, Gary Carlson, Russell Stamper, Sr., Donald Hassin, Jr., John Hoffmann, Charles Kahn, Louis Butler, Mark Frankel, Patrick Willis, James Mohr, Allan Deehr, John Perlich, Thomas Barland, Karen Christenson, Edward Brunner, Dennis Flynn, William Johnston, Dorothy Bain, Michael Malmstadt, Phillip Todryk, Neal Nettesheim.
Here are the names of the 20 lobbying groups with financial interests in court rulings that urged Gov. Walker to approve pay raises for judges at all levels of state courts: Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Builders Association, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Wisconsin Bankers Association, Wisconsin Realtors Association, Midwest Food Processors Association, Wisconsin Petroleum Council, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Inc., Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, Wisconsin Propane Gas Association, Associated General Contractors, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, Wisconsin Wine & Spirit Institute, Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, Wisconsin Paper Council, Dairy Business Association, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, NFIB Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association.
Judges do not like it when their decisions are overturned by a higher court.
They take it personally -- getting overturned is seen as a public rebuke delivered by a bunch of Court of Appeals judges who have probably forgotten what it's like down in the trenches. (There are some judges, however, who may take a particular reversal as a badge of honor, depending on the issues in dispute and the appeals panel hearing the case.)
It was a tough year for Eau Claire County Circuit Judge William Gabler, who was appealed five times, reversed four times and affirmed just once, according to the Wisconsin Law Journal. Gabler, first appointed to the bench in 1999 by Gov. Tommy Thompson, had more cases overturned by the Court of Appeals than any other judge in the state.
Gabler's 20% affirm rate is well below the 86% statewide rate. There were 783 Appeals Court decisions last year, with 672 cases affirmed and 111 overturned, according to the Law Journal, which published its annual statistical analysis of Appeals Court decisions.
Appellate lawyer Nick Zales said judging circuit court judges by the number of times they are reversed "is not fair."
"Being reversed is not necessarily a bad thing," he said in a Facebook comment. "It just could be a judge trying to do good but the law appears to prohibit it ... They probably make hundreds of decisions every year. If one makes 200 decisions and 10 are appealed that seems damn good to me."
Two Dane County judges, William Hanrahan and Rhonda Lanford, had three reversals each, the second highest number in the state. Hanrahan's rulings were appealed 11 times and Lanford's were appealed nine times. Hanrahan was first appointed to the bench in 2007 by Gov. Jim Doyle; Lanford was elected in 2013.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner was appealed 21 times, the most in the state, but reversed just once.
There were nine appealed 10 times or more (all from Dane or Milwaukee Counties). the number of their decisions affirmed and the number reversed:
Dane County - Juan Colas (10,0); Hanrahan (8, 3)
Milwaukee County - Rebecca Dallet (11, 1); Christoper Foley (11, 0); William Pocan (10, 0); Stephanie Rothstein (11, 0); Mark Sanders (11,0); Jeffrey Wagner (20, 1); Glenn Yamahiro (11, 0).
Overall, according to the Law Journal, the District 1 Court of Appeals, which includes all of Milwaukee County, was far more likely to affirm lower court decisions than any of the other three district courts. District 1 affirmed 93 percent of the time; in District 2, 85 percent of cases were affirmed; in District 3, 81 percent; and in District 4, 82%. You can see a map of Court of Appeals districts here.
Zales, the lawyer, said he found the disparity in affirm rates "the most disturbing. A case should not be decided on appeal by which district you happen to bring it in."
The Law Journal cautions that an Appeals Court reversal could ultimately be undone by the State Supreme Court.
The Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety Committee unanimously recommended approval last week of a proposal to establish a joint city-county Heroin and Opioid Task Force to study the growing problem of opioid abuse and make recommendations about how to reduce abuse and overdoses.
"We are actually better when we combine our resources, said Ald. Jim Bohl. Ald. Michael Murphy annd Bohl sponsored the legislation to establish the task force.
Materials presented to the committee for consideration considered some bleak numbers from the Medical Examiner's offce.
The 2016 numbers are through Sept. 24. To view all the charts and tables, provided to the committee, visit the city website here.
WJI in 2017 will be following the issues of drug abuse, laws, and sentencing in Wisconsin.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin