Friday, November 09, 2007

Appeals court awards new trial for Jensen

The 4th District Court of Appeals has granted new trials for former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and GOP aide Sherry Schultz, ruling the circuit court erred in its jury instructions.

The court on Nov. 8 ruled the instructions required the jury to accept that Jensen obtained a dishonest advantage if jurors found he had used state resources for political purposes. Instead, the jurors should have been told they may - but need not - find that Jensen obtained a dishonest advantage.

The appeals court also ruled Jensen, R-Brookfield, was improperly barred from testifying about his knowledge of activities by other Dem and GOP lawmakers because the question of whether he intended to gain a dishonest advantage by using state employees for political campaigns was relevant to his defense. But the court rejected Jensen's appeal that he also should have been allowed to present testimony from others about their knowledge of the use by Assembly leaders - Republican and Democratic - of state employees for political purposes.

Jensen said in a statement released through attorney Robert Friebert that he is "very thankful" for the decision. Friebert declined to answer questions about whether the Brookfield Republican would now consider a plea deal to avoid a second trial.

Schultz attorney Steve Morgan questioned whether prosecutors should retry Jensen and Schultz, asking whether the original objective of the investigation was met since the legislative caucuses no longer exist.

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard said early on Nov. 8 that he would study the decision before deciding whether to petition the Supreme Court to review the case. He said he planned to proceed with a second trial, "if that's what we need to do."

Jensen was convicted in March 2006 of three felony counts for misconduct in office and one misdemeanor for using his public office to benefit the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee.

Jensen didn't appeal the misdemeanor count, and the appeals court didn't address that conviction in its ruling.

Blanchard has 30 days to petition the Supreme Court to review the case. Should the Supreme Court reject the petition or if Blanchard decides against an appeal, the case would be sent back to Dane County Judge Steven Ebert.

*Read the Jensen ruling:
http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=30828

*Read the Schultz ruling:
http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=30827

*See the Jensen statement:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=110076

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