By Gretchen Schuldt
The Department of Corrections would spend an additional $13.6 million annually to imprison fifth- and sixth-offense drunk drivers if the Legislature adopts a measure mandating 18-month minimum prison sentences for those offenders, according to a fiscal estimate from the department.
Under current law, fifth or sixth OWI offenders can be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years. The minimum sentence is $600 and six months incarceration.
An average of 438 people per year are sentenced to probation for fifth or sixth offense drunk driving. Assuming that all those people would go to prison under the new bill, the proposal would add an estimated 639 inmates to the state's already jam-packed facilities, DOC said in the estimate.
The estimate includes $1.6 million for new substance abuse disorder programs to serve the additional inmates. Those programs would require an additional 23 full-time staff position.
"These costs do not include remodeling/reconstruction costs that may be needed to create the kind of program spaces that are needed," DOC said.
Because the adult prison system is at capacity, the estimate assumes DOC would step up its contracts with local jails to house prison inmates. The agency would require an additional $12 million per year for the contracts if all 639 inmates were held in jails, according to the estimate.
The Department, in a separate estimate, said that criminalizing first offense drunk driving would cost about $3 million annually to provide supervision, electronic monitoring, and substance use disorder programming. That is just DOC's cost - fiscal estimates for courts, prosecutors, and public defenders are not yet available.
A bill pending in the Legislature would make first offense drunk driving a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days incarceration, and / or two years probation.
The estimate assumes that 13,970 people will be found guilty of first offense drunk driving during the year, and that 1,097 of those people would be placed on one year of probation. The probation rolls would permanently swell by that number about a year after the bill's enactment.
By Gretchen Schuldt
A defendant has the right to present a case at trial even if a judge thinks there is enough evidence to decide without it, the State Supreme Court ruled last week.
“We hold that denying a defendant the opportunity to present his case-in-chief is a structural error, the consequence of which is an automatic new trial,” Justice Daniel Kelly wrote in a 4-2 decision.
Chief Justice Patience D. Roggensack and Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler dissented, saying that Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Foley committed only a “harmless error” when he did not allow Mr. K a chance to present a case to contest the state's contention that he was an unfit parent.
Justice Rebecca Dallet did not participate in the case.
Mr. K testified under direct examination by the district attorney’s office and under cross examination by his own lawyer, Roggensack wrote. There is not a reasonable probability that the outcome of the case would have been different if Mr. K had been allowed to put on his own case, she said.
The court’s ruling reverses both Foley and District 1 Court of Appeals Judge Timothy G. Dugan, who upheld Foley’s decision.
By Gretchen Schuldt
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Daniel Gabler provided false information on his judicial application about two Milwaukee Municipal Court cases that resulted in financial penalties against him and his wife.
Gabler provided the information in application materials he submitted to Walker's office when seeking appointment to the bench. Gabler did not respond to emails about the matter sent to his office.
Gabler was found guilty twice in the past four years of building code violations at two Milwaukee rental properties he owned with his wife, Marybeth. The couple has since sold at least one of them.
Walker appointed Gabler to the bench in December. Gabler previously was chairman of the State Parole Commission.
Gabler, in his judicial application, acknowledged the two court cases, but laid the blame on a contractor.
"The origin of these most unfortunate actions was the omissions of a once reliable contractor," Gabler wrote. "In these cases I contracted with (the contractor), including a transfer of a substantial down payment, to complete the work as required by the city.
"After months and months of promises and months of delay, I discovered that (the contractor) fled the country with my money in his pocket and without performing the necessary work."
Yet Gabler was fined $280 in one of the cases in May 2015, six months before he hired the contractor in November 2015, according to Municipal and Circuit Court records. The property involved in that case is in the 300 block of E. Wilson St.
The contractor was hired to work at a different property owned by the Gablers. That property, which the couple has since sold, is in the 2200 block of S. Chase Ave.
The Gablers live on North Lake Drive in Bayside.
Gabler, in his judicial application, acknowledged the two court cases, but laid the blame on a contractor. ... Yet Gabler was fined $280 in one of the cases in May 2015, six months before he hired the contractor, records show.
The Municipal Court case stemming from the Chase Ave. code violations involved the housing unit – not the garage the contractor was allegedly hired to fix, according to the city Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) and Circuit Court records.
A small claims case Gabler filed against the contractor said the two reached a verbal agreement in November 2015 calling for the contractor to make several repairs to the garage at the Chase Ave. property. The city had issued a raze order for the structure in April 2015. In its order, the city cited structurally defective walls, structurally defective columns or beams; defective exterior finishes, exterior trim, and door units.
The Gablers were supposed to comply with the order by Nov. 11, 2015.
The contractor was supposed to replace door headers and doors, tuck point the concrete block, replace the roof and paint the garage, according to Gabler's lawsuit, filed in May 2016. The agreed-upon price was $12,500; Gabler alleged he gave the contractor a $5,000 down payment.
Gabler eventually won a $10,388 judgment in the case and settled for $5,500, according to Circuit Court records.
The Gablers had the garage torn down by mid-July, 2016, according to DNS records.
Meanwhile, the city was preparing to take the couple to court over orders inspectors issued for the housing unit at the same address. The Gablers were told in November 2014 to replace defective fascia boards, roof eave boards, and exterior trim boards. The city also ordered the couple to paint wood and metal surfaces.
Building code violations are taken to Municipal Court if the property owner does not correct them within a certain time period.
On Aug. 16, 2016, the Gablers were each fined $440 for the violations, according to Municipal Court records.
The next day, the city reinspected the Chase Ave. property and found additional problems. This time the Gablers were ordered to paint; replace defective and missing boards in the roof eave; replace missing downspouts and connect to gutters; replace defective gutters; replace missing mortar on exterior walls; replace defective trim boards; and replace defective and missing siding.
In the earlier, 2015 building code case, involving the property in the 300 block of E. Wilson Street, Gabler was found guilty in May 2015 of the violations and was ordered to pay $280 in penalties; charges against Marybeth Gabler were dismissed without prejudice, according to Milwaukee Municipal Court records.
Gabler's Wilson St. property originally was cited in May 2013 for 12 violations; four remained by the time the penalty was levied. The Gablers did not meet orders to paint wood and metal surfaces and repair or replace a defective service walk, according to records.
Feb. 18, 2019 – Wisconsin Justice Initiative Executive Director Gretchen Schuldt responded Monday to Gov. Tony Evers' proposal to decriminalize some marijuana use and to establish a medical marijuana program.
"This is a good positive step," Schuldt said, noting that WJI is awaiting details. "Wisconsin's refusal so far to adopt a medical marijuana program is hurting the state's residents and its economy. Why would any individual or business established in a medical marijuana state want to move to Wisconsin, where legitimate treatments are suddenly felonies?"
Evers is right to propose decriminalizing some marijuana offenses and expunction of criminal records for some past marijuana convictions, she said.
"It is time for this state to join the 21st century on marijuana laws," Schuldt said. "Wisconsinites made their opinion clear in November, when they voted in 16 advisory referendums in favor of cannabis legalization. Now it's time to find out if the Legislature respects the will and legitimate medical needs of the voters."
Show your support! Get your own "Legalize" button here.
Note: WJI will continue the "Walker's judges" features for judges appointed by former Gov. Scott Walker who are still on the bench. We also will add information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees as he makes them.
The information here is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Daniel J. Gabler
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 26, 2018
Law School – Marquette University
Undergrad – Creighton University
High School –Not listed
March 2017-present – Chairman, Wisconsin Parole Commission
1999-2017 – Milwaukee County assistant district attorney
1997-1999 – Compliance officer, Goodwill Industries
1996-1997 – Public affairs manager, Time Warner Cable
Wisconsin Bar Association
Milwaukee Bar Association
Arbitrator, Milwaukee Better Business Bureau
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
St. Thomas More Society
Gabler, on his resume, lists his accomplishments as a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney.
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Over 27 years of experience in the legal profession, advocated for the rights and interests of individuals, families, small businesses, community based organizations, municipal governments, witnesses and crime victims through firm but fair advocacy in faithful adherence to the law – ever mindful that what I may want the law to be cannot be my guide. My guide has been the law as written and interpreted by higher courts.
Worked as a Better Business Bureau arbitrator required application of facts consistent with terms of arbitration agreement and the Wisconsin Lemon Law.
No matter how sympathetic the plaintiff / auto owner was, there were times my decisions resulted in disappointment out of my faithfulness to the law.
Most recently was chair of the Wisconsin Parole Commission.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, more than 100; non-jury, more than 35; arbitration, 10; administrative bodies, More than 2,000 (parole chair).
Cases on appeal: Wrote three appeals briefs in unpublished cases. As clerk to Appeals Judge MIchael T. Sullivan, researched and drafted in part five District I Court of Appeals decisions.
List and describe the three most significant cases in which you were involved: (Gabler listed only two)
State v. Artic, 2006
In this case, I prosecuted Mr. Robert Artic Sr. for Conspiracy to Commit the Crime of Possession with Intent to Deliver Controlled Substance-Cocaine and Keeper of a Drug Place in February 2006 (06 CF 0685). It was a particularly challenging case for the evidence against the defendant was circumstantial. In addition, it was tried before a jury over the course of five days in front of a judge who had just been rotated to the criminal division, having virtually no prior criminal jury trial experience. After presenting numerous police testimony evidence and over 25 exhibits, the jury found Defendant Artic guilty of both counts.
Racine v. Weisflog, 1991
The case resulted in an opinion issued by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals that addressed uncharted parameters of a corporate officer / director’s fiduciary duties to the corporation when a business opportunity presents itself to that officer / director. As a judicial law clerk for the Hon. Michael T Sullivan, I researched, drafted and conferred with other judges on the panel to arrive at a unanimous opinion that has stood the test of time. ...
The Racine v. Weisflog holding was the synthesis of Wisconsin case law together with general principles of corporate law, and legal treatises and commentaries.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The estates of a man and a woman who hung themselves in the Wood County Jail filed lawsuits last week against the county, alleging officials knew the two were at risk of attempting suicide but did nothing to prevent it.
The suicides occurred after the victims were unrepresented by legal counsel during their separate preliminary hearings, held about eight months apart.
Trequelle Vann-Marcouex, 18, hung himself Aug. 15, the night after he was forced to represent himself at a preliminary hearing because there was no defense lawyer available to take the case. Wood County Circuit Judge Todd P. Wolf decided not to wait for the State Public Defender's Office (SPD) to assign a lawyer and did not appoint a lawyer at county expense, which would have been proper procedure.
Vann-Marcouex died Aug. 18.
Casey Teskoski, 28, hung herself Dec. 22, 2017, the day after Wood County Circuit Judge Gregory J. Potter held a preliminary hearing in her case. She also was not represented by a lawyer, according to online court records.
She died Dec. 29, according to the suit.
Potter is the chief judge of the state court system's District VI, which includes Adams, Clark, Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Portage, Sauk, Waushara, and Wood Counties.
The two who died did not have legal representation at their preliminary hearings.
Most serious offenses for inmates in Wisconsin prisons on July 1, 2018
Source: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Adult Corrections Program
* All types or degrees of the offense.
-H-Includes aggregated assaults, injuries, hit and run, endangering safety, carjacking, and physical abuse of a child.
A few notes on the data:
Not shown on the charts – 4,947 men and 420 women were in prison because their supervision (probation, parole, or extended supervision) was revoked without a new conviction. Some 6,130 men and 386 women were revoked with a new conviction. The Fiscal Bureau has this cautionary note: "Due to date limitations, the number of revocations with no new sentences my be over represented, as further investigations of revocations frequently result in new sentences at a later date."
The number of revocations with new sentences are excluded from cumulative populations because officials "cannot identify whether the type of offense is for the original sentence that led to revocation or the new offense that led to a new sentence."
Join us for an engaging after-work event of beverages and light appetizers at a beautiful Shorewood home.
Featuring speaker State Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, with insights and reflections regarding her campaign and first several months on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Come network with others who believe that justice is for all, not only those who can afford to hire attorneys.
Learn what Wisconsin Justice Initiative is doing to advocate for serious reforms and to educate the public about Wisconsin's justice system.
"Justice Matters" event details:
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
2729 E. Capitol Dr., Shorewood
5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
$60 General Admission
$25 for public service/nonprofit individuals
Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and light appetizers will be served
Hosts: Tamar Kelber and Brian Feiges
Click below to register!
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin