Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Judge Denies Jensen, Foti Change of Venue

Dane County Judge Steven Ebert denied a motion Tuesday for change of venue in the cases against state Rep. Scott Jensen, former Rep. Steve Foti and former legislative aide Sherry Schultz. The attorneys for the defendants originally filed the change of venue motion in June of 2005.

In the ruling, Ebert left the door open for another appeal for a venue change before the trial begins on Feb. 21 in Madison.

"It is simply too early to conclude that a fair trial cannot be held in Dane County," Ebert says. "For that reason I am denying the motion for a change of venue at this time. The defendants may raise the issue again if it becomes relevant at jury selection."

Ebert also says in the ruling that he does not plan to sequester the jury, and addressed the issue of peremptory jury strikes. "I have reviewed this issue and conclude that, as to the number of strikes allowed, the defendants will have three each and the state will have four. In addition, each party will be allowed two more strikes for the two alternates," says Ebert.

One of the defendants initially included in the case, former GOP state Rep. Bonnie Ladwig, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor count of an ethics violation by a public official last. Ladwig will be sentenced on or after March 10.

Jensen is charged with three felony counts of misconduct in office and acting inconsistently with his duty, and one misdemeanor charge for code/ethics violations by a public official. Foti is charged with one felony count of misconduct in office and acting inconsistently with duty. Schultz faces a felony count of misconduct in office and acting inconsistently with duty.

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