Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Attorneys Rush to Chisholm’s Defense

Worried about possible recall, they plan fundraiser for the DA. But will it help him?

By - May 8th, 2014 01:49 pm
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm

You are hereby invited to a political fundraiser for Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm at Pabst Best Place on May 12. Your hosts are Vince Bobot, Matthew Flynn and six other attorneys, who suggest you contribute $50, though they won’t mind if you give more.

Just to make sure you understand the gravity of the situation, the emailed invitation, sent out in early May, attached two of the stories I’ve written about the potential recall of Chisholm. The recall’s organizers are led by African American activists in Milwaukee who are outraged by Chisholm’s handling of incidents where blacks in custody were killed, but they have combined with leaders of conservative third party groups (like the Wisconsin Club for Growth) which have been targeted (along with Gov. Scott Walker) by Chisholm’s John Doe investigation. These conservatives mostly live outside the county, but would be very interested in bankrolling an effort to toss Chisholm out of office, as I’ve reported.

Longtime PR operative H. Carl Mueller, who has helped organize the fundraiser, says its organizers wanted attorneys in town to know about the possible recall. “Clearly, that is somewhat of a threat.”

But for Flynn, it’s more about supporting a DA who is under legal attack by those he is investigating. Eric O’Keefe and the Club for Growth have sued Chisholm in federal court, arguing the Doe investigation violates their civil rights.

“He is under attack from out-of-state conservative groups who are attempting to stop the John Doe,” Flynn says. “It’s an attempt to stop a criminal investigation. We want to make it clear to the public that Chisholm is a top-notch DA.”

The fundraiser is a “spontaneous fundraiser” put together by local attorneys, Flynn notes. Strategically speaking, however, the invitation may have made a fatal error: Not one of the eight attorneys listed as a host is black.

The other six attorneys listed as hosts include Peter Bruce, Craig Mastantuono, Mark Darnieder, Jay Urban, David Geraghty and Julius Kim. “Those are the first people who stepped up and said yes,” notes Foley & Lardner attorney Tom Mullooly, who serves as campaign treasurer for Chisholm.

Which may add fuel to the fire for black activists already angered by Chisholm’s handling of various cases, says one politico who is close to the recall effort. Chisholm declined to file charges in the death of 16-year-old Corey Stingley, who died after his alleged theft in a West Allis story, when he was wrestled to the ground and restrained by white customers. In another incident, Chisholm also declined to press charges against any of three Milwaukee Police Officers who restrained and failed to help  22 year-old Derek Williams, who died in their custody in 2011.  Chisholm also fanned the flames with his prosecution of Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas for bribery. The jury voted not guilty in just 90 minutes, but by then Thomas, the anointed candidate for city comptroller, had lost both his job as supervisor and his chance to become comptroller.

The irony is that Thomas was among three black office holders, all liberals and/or Democrats, that Chisholm has prosecuted, yet he is accused by O’Keefe and other conservatives of targeting Walker and them due to partisan, Democratic  motives. Chisholm just can’t seem to win, and this latest fundraiser may not help all that much.

One politico pointed to the attempted recall of Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling in 2012, where both sides raised $7 million, as a likely model for how much could be raised if the recall happens. Chisholm’s chances of raising several million are probably pretty slim.

The recall’s prime organizers are Tory Lowe and Monique Taylor, who previously organized a Copwatch group in Milwaukee following the death of Derek Williams. Taylor declined to offer any details as to whether or when the recall might occur. The source suggests it probably wouldn’t happen until this fall.

Any recall attempt would need to gain the signatures of 25 percent of the total amount of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election in Milwaukee County, meaning just over 99,000 signatures would be required.

There has been “a lot of dissatisfaction with Chisholm, particularly with the West Allis situation,” expressed on black talk radio shows, says Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Milwaukee Community Journal. He told the conservative Wisconsin Reporter  he supported a recall.

Are Judges Ruling on John Doe Partisan?

The question of whether Chisholm’s second John Doe probe involving Walker will be killed has become something of a pissing match between U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Randa made a ruling Tuesday night declaring the probe must be shut down, because it violated the civil rights of O’Keefe and other targets of the probe. But the next day the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision Wednesday blocking Randa’s order.

The appeals court said Randa didn’t have the authority to issue that order, and could stop the investigation only if he found the appeal made by Chisholm’s lawyers in an attempt to dismiss the civil rights case against them was frivolous. So Randa turned around and did just that, calling the appeal “the height of frivolousness,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported.

Now, the appeals panel must decide whether to approve or overrule Randa.

Randa has a Republican background. He won election to the Milwaukee Circuit Court and then was appointed to the state Court of Appeals by Republican Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus in 1981. He was appointed a federal district judge in 1992 by Republican President George H. Bush.

The appeals court’s members include Judges Diane Wood, William Bauer and Frank Easterbrook. Wood was appointed to the court by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1995; Easterbrook was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1985; and Bauer was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1974.

Seven years ago, the same three appellate judges slapped Randa down, in the conviction of state purchasing supervisor Georgia Thompson, who was charged with making sure a state travel contract went to a firm linked to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle‘s re-election campaign. (The situation was labeled “Travelgate” by Republicans.) The appeals court called the evidence used to convict Thompson “beyond thin” and ordered her immediate release from prison.

We may soon learn what they think of Randa’s latest ruling.

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

12 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Attorneys Rush to Chisholm’s Defense”

  1. Bruce Hall says:

    As someone who lives outside of Wisconsin, I find the Wisconsin political atmosphere as reported by various sources to be fairly toxic from both right and left. So, it’s business as usual, huh?

  2. Pippi Longstocking says:

    “We may soon learn what they think of Randa’s latest ruling.”

    Beyond belief?

  3. Troy says:

    John Chisholm is as Corrupt as it gets. He intimidated, bullied and terrorized conservatives by using the power of his office as a illegal weapon against Conservative Christian Republicans. I will see to it that We go to every Colored Church in Milwaukee and gather as many Recall signatures as needed. Chisholm still hasn’t investigated John Weishan for using State computers for Campaigning on tax payer time. What a piece of garbage.

  4. Ann Jacobs says:

    Craig Mastantuono was the lawyer who successfully defended Johnny Thomas against the charges your mention. It is a testament to John Chisholm’s respect in the legal community (including the attorneys who oppose him in court) that Craig would host a fundraiser for him.

  5. Kate in Milwaukee says:

    Hey Troy, please do go to “every Colored Church in Milwaukee” and make sure you address the congregants in just that way. Really, please do that.

  6. Big Al says:

    I thought Republicans only believed in recalls when there was criminal charges against the elected official?

  7. jerry person says:

    as reported on Fox news we all know walker knew and used the email system many many times. If he even knew about the top lawyers said he was guilty as sin. I must ask the DA how much was his check from david Koch to not prosecute scott walker and his pals. I do know he could have a nd should have or he obstructed justice. walker knew and so did this Koch owned DA. Anything else is a LIE. WISCONSIN HAS THE BEST JUSTICE SYTEM MONEY CAN BUY LITTERALLY AS THIS CLEARLY SHOWS.

  8. jerry person says:

    attorneys are rushing to help him spend his windfall of cash from david Koch for letting walker go anything else is BS

  9. Hal Briggs says:

    This article is clearly a liberal pro-democratic party spin. That said, there is no doubt other democrats will rally for one of their own.
    The author stated “three appellate judges slapped Randa down” The proper and journalistic professional term is “overturned a ruling”. This article reads more like an MSNBC narrative, not “journalism. BTW, A lower court being overturned is common. If the author thinks Judge Randa being overturned 7 years ago is noteworthy, then please investigate The 9th district court of appeals. It’s all liberal judges and is overturned more by SCOTUS then any other district, on a regular basis.

    BTW…. Judge Randa also ruled “that the prosecutors were not entitled to immunity from civil liability because they had acted without probable cause.” If my group was victimized by this political witch hunt, I would sue John Chisholm and his henchman for every penny they have.

  10. Jason says:

    “Digging for the truth” with no probable cause is NOT an investigation, it is a witch hunt. But please, go ahead and donate to his defense fund, not only is he going to desperately need it, but it’s also less money you’ll be putting out to support Democrats who aren’t monumental piles of crap who might make better uses of your money. As a conservative, I find your gesture to be win-win.

  11. PT says:

    Walker’s destitution of this state continues.

  12. Jim Gettens says:

    I have read about the corrupt, sadistic, cowardly bully John T. Chisholm in The Wall Street Journal and elswhere. He is a menace to every Wisconsin citizen and an absolute disgrace to every ethical lawyer practicing law anywhere throughout the world.
    I figured no Wisconsin judge or lawyer would have the cojones to do it, so I filled out the requisite Grievance form, signed and dated it, and attached to it the 33 page civil rights violation Complaint in the case of Cynthia Archer v. John Chisholm et al., filed July 1, 2015, and mailed the packet from my Massachusetts hometown to the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation on July 2, 2015. It should arrive at that Madison, WI, office on July 6.

    Jim Gettens
    Lawyer and Iraq War Veteran

    P.S. Chisholm is the kind of Absolutely No-Good F–k who deserves to have the living shit kicked out of him one-on-one. I volunteer my services. Hey Chisholm, how about meeting me in an open field somewhere in a neutral state such as Iowa, for example? I look forward to hearing from you.

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