"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Italics indicates direct quotes from the application.
Name: Kori L. Ashley
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: June 5, 2020 (elected April 2021)
Law School – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Undergraduate – DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
High School – Divine Savior Holy Angels, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Recent legal employment:
August 2016-present – Legal Action of Wisconsin
February 2013-October 2016 – Alex Flynn and Associates, Milwaukee
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
Wisconsin State Bar
Eastern District of Wisconsin
Western District of Wisconsin
General character of practice:
Public interest attorney in Legal Action of Wisconsin's Milwaukee office and its "Road to Opportunity Project," representing low-income persons in proceedings to remove civil legal barriers to employment. Legal issues include civil proceedings such as petitions for expungement, driver's license restoration, municipal court representation, and administrative requests to the DOJ Crime Information Bureau.
Work includes administering two grants, the Juvenile Reentry Project (JRAP), and Milwaukee Municipal Court Project. The JRAP grant involved representing youth up to age 25 in matters pertaining to the expungement of records, mitigation of court date, and housing matters. The project's goal was to ensure that young people had sufficient opportunity to find gainful employment. The Milwaukee Municipal Court Project involved representing low-income people who received job hindering tickets such as retail theft, possession of marijuana, and disorderly conduct in Milwaukee Municipal Court.
Earlier Legal Action of Wisconsin work included its Shiffra/Green Project, a DOJ funded grant enforcing the privacy and safety rights afforded to crime victims pursuant to Wisconsin Chapter 950.
Describe typical clients:
Legal Action is a non-profit law firm that provides civil legal aid to persons at either 125% or 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. The firm's Elder Rights Project is the only specialty area that is not subject to those income limitations.
Currently, my clients have all virtually had some contact with the criminal justice system resulting some type of conviction record for either a felony, misdemeanor, or civil offense. I specialize in employment law – specifically as it pertains to the mitigation conviction records. The majority of my clients are African American, and reside in Milwaukee County. My client ages have ranged from as young as 11 years old to clients well into their 70's. Most recently, many of my clients have suffered from severe mental health issues, which has resulted in my coordinating with treating physicians and case mangers to ensure comprehensive representation,
Number of cases tried to verdict: Two, plus co-counsel on five cases while with Alex Flynn and Associates.
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
My most recent significant case originated as a fingerprint removal request to the Department of Justice's Crime Information Bureau requesting removal of various arrest cycles from a client's criminal history report that neither resulted in a charge, nor conviction. After the request was denied, I filed an appeal of the decision to Milwaukee Circuit Court pursuant to Wisconsin Statute 227. The court, the Honorable William Pocan, ruled in my client's favor, and ordered DOJ to remove the requested cycles from my client's background report finding that DOJ erred in its interpretation of Wisconsin Statue 165.84(1). The DOJ appealed the court's decision in November of 2018. District II of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the matter on December 17, 2020. The case is currently awaiting the court's decision. I am lead counsel on the case and have been involved since the initial fingerprint removal request in October of 2017.
The case is one of first impression. The question presented is whether a municipal conviction involving a charge arising months or years before an arrest on a wholly unrelated criminal matter prevents the return of the fingerprint record when the individual is not convicted of the criminal offense in question. The circuit court answered, No – and found that there must be a "nexus" that links a charge and arrest beyond the two being listed on a single fingerprint card. Practically – this meant that for my client, an arrest for second degree sex assault, and possession of electronic weapon – two offenses that he was not charged or convicted of have been removed from his background report. It goes without saying that these aggravated offenses were hindering his job and housing opportunities. This decision stands to clarify an area of the law that is critically important to those seeking employment, housing and educational opportunities who have had contact with the criminal justice system.
WJI note: The Court of Appeals heard oral argument in December 2019, not 2020. It ruled in favor of Ashley's client, Demonta Anthony Hall, in February, 2020, shortly after Ashley applied for the judgeship.
During my time representing crime victims in the firm's Shiffra/Green project I represented a client in Juneau County who had a host of family law issues. Her child's father was in constant violation of a domestic abuse restraining order and in spite of being criminally charged for the violations, the behavior continued. To get around the restraining order, he used the family court order, which did not have parity with the restraining order to have additional, inappropriate, contact with her. I filed a motion in family court to ensure that the same restrictions to their contact that existed within the restraining order were also in the family court orders. I also sought a contempt order for the flagrant violations of a temporary order put in place shortly after the motion was filed. The case ultimately proceeded to a 3-day trial on the modification request. At the conclusion, the court found the respondent in contempt of the temporary order, and issued an order ensuring that the restrictions within the restraining order applied to the family court order. My client … could not afford a private attorney to assist her in navigating this process. This case is a great illustration of why civil legal aid is so important, especially as it pertains to victims of crime.
I was lead counsel in Racine County Case No. 2014CMD00977 where our client was charged with 171 counts of mistreatment of animals. Due to the volume of charges, the case received significant media attention. The case was incredibly complex, involving the use of multiple experts … (and) multiple motions to dismiss, suppress, as well as a motion for a bill of particulars. The suppression motion, which I argued, resulted in 47 of the counts being dismissed. Ultimately, the case resolved shortly before the scheduled trial, and our client pled guilty to three counts of shelter violations and received a sentence of probation. The client was facing a potential prison sentence based on the volume of counts in the criminal complaint. It was incredibly satisfying to reach a disposition which allowed her to maintain her freedom.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies:
Attorney Celia Jackson and I represented a federal employee in a discrimination case before the EEOC in 2016. The client alleged discrimination based on race, and gender. The case resulted in multiple depositions and ultimately a trial before Administrative Law Judge Deborah Powers. The court found in our client's favor on one claim.
Reuters: Full Fourth Circuit will review skirts-only-dress-code-for-girls decision.
AP: Tool for police reform seldom used by prosecutors.
Prosecutors in Atlanta, Chicago, Tulsa, and Pittsburgh told the AP that they don’t track officers with disciplinary problems, and Milwaukee prosecutors only listed officers who have been convicted of crimes.
Wisconsin Law Journal: WMC Litigation Center acquires Great Lakes Legal Foundation.
The expansion, according to a news release, will allow the WMC Litigation Center to further its mission to promote the public interest and defend the business community from overzealous government entities that act beyond their authority.
CNN: U.S. Justice Department eliminates case quotas for immigration judges.
Forbes: Washington, D.C., may get legal recreational marijuana under new budget bill.
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WPR: Wisconsin environmetal groups win temporary halt to transmission line, and all they have to do is post a $32 million bond!
Reuters: Judge says he is unlikely to block California law on women on business boards.
But the judge said during a hearing that Meland has not shown the lawsuit is likely to succeed, meaning he will likely not block the California Secretary of State from enforcing the statute while the case is pending.
The lawsuit is one of several challenging the law, which required companies to have at least one woman on their board by the end of 2019. By the end of this year, boards with five members must include at least two women and larger boards must have three.
Jurist: Federal appeals court upholds Florida law requiring people with felony records pay debts before they are allowed to vote.
AP: How police use force against children.
The AP analyzed data on approximately 3,000 instances of police use of force against children under 16 over the past 11 years. The data, provided to the AP by Accountable Now, a project of The Leadership Conference Education Fund aiming to create a comprehensive use-of-force database, includes incidents from 25 police departments in 17 states.
It’s a small representation of the 18,000 overall police agencies nationwide and the millions of daily encounters police have with the public.
But the information gleaned is troubling.
Slate: The U.S. Supreme Court deals a harsh, unanimous blow to police reform.
Attorneys Eileen Hirsch and Diane Rondini headlined the Oct. 13 WJI Virtual Salon to discuss their request to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to restrict juvenile shackling in court.
Five circuit court judges from around the state also signed on to the Supreme Court petition.
Under the proposed new Supreme Court rule, children could not be restrained during a court proceeding unless a judge found one of the following:
Video of the Salon is below. There were some Zoom problems, so there are a few cuts of unintelligible audio.
Reuters: Trump sues committee investigating Jan. 6 attack on Capitol.
Committee members Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, and Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said in a written statement issued in response to Trump's lawsuit that the former president was seeking to "delay and obstruct" their investigation.
"It's hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election," Cheney and Thompson said in the statement.
Marijuana Moment: Americans want to live where cannabis is legal, real estate survey finds.
AP: Train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say.
Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.
Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee, authorities said.
“What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.
SCOTUSblog: U.S. Supreme Court upholds qualified immunity for police in two cases, adds two others dealing with Native American issues.
Nextgov: Coming to the border: thermal body scans!
The new Pedestrian Detection-at-Range system will take video and photo images of travelers, then overlay those images with thermal scans looking for items hidden under clothing. Suspicious scans will lead to secondary physical searches and maintained as evidence for any potential criminal actions, according to a privacy impact assessment.
Non-intrusive scanning technologies have been in use at ports of entry for some time, mostly to search vehicles, shipping containers, parcels and other baggage as they move through the border checkpoints. The scans allow CBP officers to keep lines and goods moving while picking out suspicious items for additional searches.
The detection-at-range system for pedestrian entry will work the same way.
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By Gretchen Schuldt
A judge was correct in ordering a man to pay potentially tens of thousands of dollars in court surcharges for having child pornography images that were never included in criminal charges against him, the State Court of Appeals has ruled.
The District IV Court of Appeals panel, however, sent the case back to circuit court to determine whether all of the pictures involved were actually associated with the crime for which William C. MacDonald was convicted.
MacDonald pleaded guilty in Marquette County Circuit Court to one count of possessing child pornography. As part of the plea bargain, another nine counts, each based on an individual picture, were dismissed but read into the record.
Read-in charges, Appellate Judge Jennifer E. Nashold wrote for the three-judge panel, are agreed to by both the prosecution and defense. A judge can consider the read-in charges when imposing sentence, though they do not increase the maximum sentence the defendant faces. A judge can also order a defendant to make restitution for read-in charges. Finally, prosecutors cannot later bring formal charges for counts read in.
MacDonald's plea agreement said that "the State would be moving to dismiss and read in the rest of the charges...in addition to any uncharged image that was part of this investigation, so that the State will not be filing any additional charges for any other images, but we would be asking that they be read in as part of the sentencing in this matter."
Circuit Judge Bernard N. Bult sentenced MacDonald to four years in prison and three years of extended supervision. He also levied mandatory $500 surcharges for the photo that was the basis of the charge, nine photos for the counts that were read in at sentencing, and 90 additional images that did not serve as the basis for a charge. The total in surcharges was $50,000 for 100 images.
MacDonald, arguing that the surcharge should be limited to $500 for the one count on which he was convicted, requested in a post-trial motion that the surcharge be reduced, but another circuit judge, Mark T. Slate, refused.
MacDonald appealed, but the appeal was put on hold while the state Supreme Court considered another case involving the child pornography surcharge. In that case, State v. Schmidt, the court ruled that the surcharge did apply to pictures included in read-in counts.
MacDonald conceded the surcharge applied to the nine read-in counts, but continued to argue that the surcharge should not apply to counts that were not ever charged. The appeals panel disagreed.
"We conclude that Schmidt does not directly answer this question but that, consistent with its analysis, the surcharge applies to read-in images regardless of whether there is an accompanying charge, so long as those images are 'associated with the crime,' ” Nashold wrote.
State law, she said, does not limit read-in crimes to only those that were charged and dismissed.
Nashold was joined in the opinion by Appellate Judges Brian W. Blanchard and Michael R. Fitzpatrick.
In sentencing MacDonald, she said, Bult correctly noted that MacDonald's ability to pay the surcharge was not a factor. Bult imposed the surcharge on 100 images, though he believed there could be more pictures involved.
"Read-ins may be considered for restitution and sentencing purposes regardless of whether they are uncharged or charged and dismissed. Thus, we discern no basis in the statutes or case law for a sentencing court to treat uncharged and read-in images differently from charged and read-in images for purposes of applying the surcharge," Nashold wrote.
The panel, however, remanded the case back to circuit court for a judge to determine whether the images that formed the basis of the surcharges actually were "associated" with the crime for which MacDonald was convicted.
State statute requires a judge to determine the "association" by a preponderance of evidence – a lower standard than that required for conviction – and without a jury.
"Here, it does not appear that the sentencing court engaged in any fact-finding to determine the association, if any, between the 90 uncharged images and the image forming the basis of the count of conviction," Nashold wrote.
The Atlantic: Reduce police violence by ending traffic enforcement by police.
Law360: Low pay keeping would-be public defenders away.
"It pops up within not only the different states but within a state," said Steve Zeidman, at the City University of New York School of Law. "So a state like New York, for example, depending on where you are, there's either a public defender system, there's an individually assigned counsel system where you get paid an hourly rate, there are contract offices ... and they all have different salary ranges."
Zeidman said that as a professor, he feels a responsibility to encourage law students to consider the public defender route despite the inherent difficulties — "to say that you can make it, it will be a challenge, and hopefully there's loan forgiveness programs that will make it easier for you to do this work," he said.
(That loan forgiveness program does not exist in Wisconsin.)
Reuters: Johnson & Johnson uses bankruptcy court to shield itself from baby powder claims.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) on Thursday put into bankruptcy tens of thousands of legal claims alleging its Baby Powder and other talc-based products caused cancer, offloading the potential liabilities into a newly created subsidiary.
J&J put the talc claims into an entity called LTL Management LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday in North Carolina, according to the company and court records. J&J and its affiliates were not part of the bankruptcy filing.
Tens of thousands of plaintiffs have alleged J&J's Baby Powder and other talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer, which the company denies. The plaintiffs include women suffering from ovarian cancer and others battling mesothelioma.
Marijuana Moment: Study says marijuana legalization impact on crime reduction is underestimated.
Law360: Why law schools should require a justice reform curriculum.
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Prison gerrymandering give rural areas more electoral clout.
Politico: Another right-wing sheriff gravitates toward the spotlight.
The New Yorker: A shadowy, abusive corrections system for kids.
Each year, some fifty thousand adolescents in the U.S. are sent to a constellation of residential centers—wilderness programs, boot camps, behavior-modification facilities, and religious treatment courses—that promise to combat a broad array of unwanted behaviors. There are no federal laws or agencies regulating these centers. In 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, in the previous seventeen years, there had been thousands of allegations of abuse in the troubled-teen industry, and warned that it could not find “a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data.” The next year, George Miller, a member of Congress from California, championed the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act, which tried to create national safety standards and a system for investigating reports of abuse and neglect at the schools. But the law never passed the Senate.
Slate: President's Supreme Court commission walked right into the legitimacy trap.
The Washington Post: A woman was missing for 12 days before police found her inside a police van, dead.
WAOW: New bill would fine, jail the homeless for living temporarily on public property.
Under the proposal, anyone living on public property could face a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. The rule is drawing the concern of area homeless advocates. They are saying they hope people won't go into hiding and instead seek them out for help.
"We have a shelter facility that can serve 32 people including a family room where it can accommodate six. So hopefully the people will come to our door and the door of other agencies in the community that can serve people," said Ann Chrudinsky, Salvation Army Development Director.
Salon: This U.S. Supreme Court was built on dark money.
During Chief Justice John Roberts' tenure, the Court has issued more than 80 partisan decisions, by either a 5-4 or 6-3 vote, involving big interests important to Republican Party major donors. Republican-appointed justices have handed wins to the donor interests in every single case. The decisions greenlit rampant voter suppression and bulk gerrymandering (Shelby County v. Holder and Husted v. Randolph Institute); closed courthouse doors to workers wronged by their employers (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis); unleashed floods of dark money to corrupt our politics and foul our democracy (Citizens United v. FEC and Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta); and more. Eighty to zero is a pattern so strong that it could serve as compelling evidence in a trial alleging bias and discrimination.
This pattern did not just happen. It is the fruit of a half-century-long operation by right-wing donors to win through the Supreme Court what they can't win through elected branches of government. In 1971, a corporate attorney from Virginia named Lewis Powell wrote a memo for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce laying out a game plan for corporations and right-wing ideologues to use "an activist-minded Supreme Court" as an "instrument for social, economic, and political change." (Within months, Powell himself would be appointed by Richard Nixon to the court to advance the plan from within. His memo was never disclosed to the Senate.)
ABA Journal: Judge's blatant anti-Semitism leads to recommendation for new trial for Jewish death row inmate.
NPR: Fired FBI official Andrew McCabe wins back pay, reinstatement of retirement benefits in lawsuit settlement.
The settlement will resolve a civil lawsuit filed by McCabe, who argued that his ouster was the result of a "years-long public vendetta" driven by the former president (Trump).
The Justice Department demoted and then dismissed him on the eve of his 50th birthday in March 2018, when his FBI annuity would have vested.
"I think the message that you get loud and clear from the terms of the settlement is that this never should have happened," McCabe said. "It feels like complete vindication, because that's what it is."
The agreement follows a scathing online campaign by the former president to tarnish McCabe, who spent 21 years in service at the bureau.
BuzzFeed News: 100 defendants in the Jan. 6 riot have pleaded guilty so far.
Most of the 100 rioters to take a deal have pleaded guilty to the least serious crime they were charged with: parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol, a class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail. Defendants pleading guilty to that crime or disorderly conduct in the Capitol (also a class B misdemeanor) are getting a few benefits: avoiding a trial on multiple charges, some of which carried more potential prison time; a chance to argue to a judge for credit for accepting responsibility early; and, in some cases, an agreement from prosecutors to advocate for a light sentence.
The US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, is clearing some of the least complicated prosecutions — nonviolent offenders who in many instances documented their trek into the Capitol online — from its ever-growing caseload. The government has required some defendants to give the FBI access to their cellphones and social media accounts as investigators continue to search for more evidence from that day. In the smaller pool of felony plea deals, the government has been lining up cooperators in connection with a conspiracy they’ve alleged involving the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers.
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Balls and Strikes: Courts are making the climate crisis worse.
The role courts play in making climate change worse is often overlooked, because it is not as dramatic as, for example, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s proud opposition to the Green New Deal, or West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s mind-bending declaration that the infrastructure bill’s efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels are “very disturbing.” But when handing out “I Accelerated the Climate Crisis” participation trophies, the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts should not be spared. For decades, the “least dangerous branch” has wielded its considerable power to shield from responsibility the corporate giants that would rather consign the planet to a fiery doom than find a different way to pay for mega-yachts.
Bloomberg Law: U.S. Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor bemoans lack of professional diversity on the court.
Sports Illustrated: This pro basketball and Nike exec hid this from his past: At 16, he shot another teen to death.
Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin incarcerates one in 36 Black adults, tops in the nation.
WBUR: Discipline recommended for prosecutors linked to drug lab scandal.
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