Friday, May 12, 2006

Jensen Requests Bond While Seeking New Trial

By Alec Loftus
WisPolitics Staff

Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen plans to appeal his conviction on felony corruption charges and seek a new trial, indicating in court filings today that he believes there were several errors committed during jury instructions.

The motions Jensen filed today include one seeking a limited stay of execution while the court considers his request to allow him to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction. The request also covers any appeals he may file on a decision on his request for bond.

* See the Jensen motion for bond pending appeal
* See the Jensen motion for limited stay of execution

Attorney Robert Friebert, who represented Brian Burke in his corruption trial, argues in the filings the "dishonest advantage" jury instruction was unconstitutional because it contained a mandatory presumption that the use of state resources to promote a candidate provides that candidate with an unfair advantage.

Jensen has spent much of the past five years challenging the charges filed against him on numerous grounds, already filing an appeal with the state Supreme Court that was ultimately denied on a 2-2 vote. Friebert stressed in today's filings that he new motions were not to delay or undermine the legal process.

"His appeal is not for purposes of delay, but rather to present significant appellate issues that will be prosecuted promptly and diligently," Friebert wrote.

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard filed a sentencing recommendation earlier this week asking for a five-year sentence, including up to 20 months in prison. He requested Jensen spend the rest of that five-year period on supervised release and asked the judge to ban him from the Capitol during his sentence. Jensen is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

Blanchard did not return a call from WisPolitics late this afternoon seeking comment.

In his motion, Friebert also argued Jensen is not a flight risk at the end of the appeal process or that he will offend again if allowed to remain free on bond.

The second motion filed today was for limited stay of execution. Friebert notes that the law allows the court to delay the commencement of a sentence for up to 60 days during an appeal.

See the sentencing recommendation

Stephen Meyer, who handled Jensen's jury trial, filed documents today arguing Blanchard's recommendation was political and unjustified.

Meyer also filed letters from more than 50 of Jensen's acquaintances urging leniency in his sentencing, citing his strong family values and personal loyalty.

Former Gov. and HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson, who is currently mulling a return to state office was among them. He wrote, "one of my strongest impressions about Scott is that he is first and foremost a family man. ... His love for Wisconsin is only exceeded by his love for his wife and children."

See Thompson's letter

Others who wrote letters include the Reverend Richard J. Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee; Republicans Sen. Ted Kanavas and Rep. Kitty Rhoades; and Democratic Reps. Gary Sherman and Marlin Schneider. Schneider testified to Jensen's integrity during his trial.

See the list of letters submitted in support of Jensen

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