Thursday, January 31, 2008

Judge grants new attorneys, trial date for McGee case

A Milwaukee Circuit Court judge granted indicted Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee Jr.'s request for a new defense team and set a new trial date today in his state case.

The attorney of record for McGee's defense will be Larraine McNamara-McGraw, a former Milwaukee alderwoman and 2006 candidate for district attorney. She is joined by Texas lawyer and former federal prosecutor Larry Jarrett, who appeared to be taking the lead in the defense during today's hearing.

McGee faces a mix of felony and misdemeanor state charges for an alleged beating conspiracy and election violations. He also faces federal charges of bribery and extortion.

Because of the change in defense counsel, Judge Dennis P. Moroney set a new trial date for May 19. The original date was March 3.

McGee and attorney Glenn Givens had attempted twice before to sever their relationship. Givens said he was "pleased" and "very relieved" to be off of the case.

Givens said he only wanted to assist McGee in the beginning until he could find new counsel and that it was never his intention to be the attorney of record on the case. He described the McGee case as time consuming and said he intends to concentrate on rebuilding his practice.

With McGee's original trial date set between the Feb. 19 primary and the April 1 general election, there was the possibility he could have made it through the primary only to become ineligible for the general if he was found guilty of a felony.

After the hearing Jarrett refused to answer questions by reporters asking if the change in counsel was intended as a stall tactic.

"We will try the case. We will do it effectively. We will give McGee his day in court," Jarrett said.

McNamara-McGraw would not comment.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Judge rules UW must support student church group

A federal judge has banned the University of Wisconsin-Madison from denying student groups money for religious activities, including prayer, worship and proselytizing.

But U.S. Judge John Shabaz also denied The Roman Catholic Foundation's request to force the school to fully fund its 2007-08 school year request and retroactively cover its 2006-07 request.

The school and the foundation have been locked in an ongoing legal battle over student fees.

Read the ruling:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080117_UW_RCF.pdf

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Panel recommends public reprimand for Ziegler; case heads to Supreme Court

A public reprimand is sufficient discipline for Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler's conflict-of-interest problems, a special judicial conduct panel has recommended.

The panel made the recommendation based on the then-Washington Co. judge handling cases involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.

The ultimate decision of what -- if any -- discipline Ziegler should face rests with the Supreme Court. But the panel wrote in its recommendation that there's no chance Ziegler will commit the same misconduct in the future and the public attention her case has received has already put other Wisconsin judges on notice to avoid similar mistakes.

The panel, comprised of three appeals court judges, found a more severe discipline wasn't warranted. It noted that neither she nor her family benefited financially in any way from her handling the cases and none of the parties in the 11 cases where misconduct occurred had sought to re-open them. The panel also noted Ziegler reached the correct result in each decision, though she should have known not to participate in the cases.

"Given her knowledge of her husband's relationships with the bank, red flags of danger were prominently flying. Justice Ziegler did not see them," the judges wrote.

See the panel's recommendation: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080103_JCP_Ziegler.pdf

Ziegler and the Wisconsin Judicial Commission have each notified the Supreme Court that they will not file any additional briefs in the case.

"We respectfully request that this matter be taken under advisement by this Court without additional briefing or oral argument, " Ziegler's attorneys wrote in the letter.

See the Ziegler letter: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080108ZieglerLetter.pdf

See the Judicial Commission letter: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080109ZieglerNoBr.pdf

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Judge denies Jensen motion for venue change

A Dane County judge has denied Scott Jensen's motion to move his re-trial to Waukesha County, but the new judge assigned to his case will be able to review that decision.

Judge Stephen Ebert's office said he denied Jensen's request, but the case has been assigned to Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan, who may also consider the request.

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