Wisconsin Public Radio

Group Pushes Evers to Oust John Chisholm

Led by activist Orville Seymer, group sends petition to governor bashing district attorney’s bail policies.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Dec 21st, 2021 05:57 pm
A sign outside of a local business acknowledges the Christmas parade tragedy Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Waukesha, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

A sign outside of a local business acknowledges the Christmas parade tragedy Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Waukesha, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Gov. Tony Evers has received a petition asking for the Milwaukee County’s district attorney to be removed from office.

The call for action comes weeks after it was discovered that one of the office’s prosecutors recommended a bail of $1,000 for a man who authorities say later drove his SUV through a Christmas parade, killing six people.

Darrell Brooks is being held on a $5 million bail for the six intentional homicide charges he faces stemming from the Nov. 21 parade deaths in nearby Waukesha. Brooks is charged in the deaths of: Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 81; and Jackson Sparks, 8. He was released on bail just days before the parade after allegedly running over the mother of his child with his vehicle. On Monday, in a symbolic move, a Milwaukee judge raised the bail in that case from $1,000 to $200,000.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been under fire since Brooks’ low bail was uncovered following the deadly parade.

A group of people pledging they are Milwaukee taxpayers and led by long-time activist Orville Seymer filed the petition with Evers seeking Chisholm’s removal. The petition cites other cases where Milwaukee County residents were free on bail and went on to commit further crimes.

“There are six people dead, including an 8-year-old boy, and none of this should have happened,” Seymer said. “It would have been easily preventable if John Chisholm and his team would have requested a substantially higher bail.”

Chisholm and Evers could not immediately be reached for comment. Both have said an internal investigation is taking place.

On Dec. 2, Chisholm addressed a Milwaukee County Board committee and told the group Brooks being free was a mistake. He said it was human error resulting from a young, overworked prosecutor.

Seymer has been involved in political activism for 20 years. He was part of Citizens for Responsible Government, which formed after the Milwaukee County pension scandal that included hundreds of county employees, including former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament, earning up to $900 million in annual payments.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Seymer said Evers is facing a tough reelection bid for governor, and Chisholm will be an albatross to him.

“Gov. Evers should think long and hard about this complaint that is front of him,” Seymer said. “The election starts in earnest right after the first of the year. I don’t think he wants the stain of John Chisholm hanging around his neck as he starts to run for reelection. This is such a big, big story, it’s not going to go away.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers approved a plan Tuesday that includes raises for all district attorneys except Milwaukee County’s. In a 8-0 vote, members of the Joint Committee of Employee Relations voted that whoever holds office after the 2024 election in Milwaukee won’t receive a pay increase because of the Darrell Brooks incident.

The increase was part of a compensation plan that includes a 2 percent pay increase for nearly all state employees.

Brooks’ next court appearance for the Waukesha parade case is Jan. 14.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Group files petition to oust Milwaukee district attorney over bail some say would have prevented deadly Waukesha parade was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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4 thoughts on “Group Pushes Evers to Oust John Chisholm”

  1. Mingus says:

    The Republicans legislature continually underfunds services in Milwaukee County including the Office of the District Attorney. So when a tragic mistake is made by an overburdened staff, the first thing conservatives do is find someone to scapegoat while ignoring the fact that most all local services do not have the resources to do they job that is required for good government.

  2. Keith Schmitz says:

    So you get rid of John Chisholm and you still are left with the problem of an understaffed and underfunded department. God forbid we squeeze some revenue out of Wisconsin’s ultra-rich to cover costs like this.

  3. Ryan Cotic says:

    Hopefully he realizes he has blood on his hands and takes responsibility then resigns.

  4. gerrybroderick says:

    I’m with Keith & Mingus. You know, blaming Chisholm, given the shortage of staff and the gross underfunding referred to above (an ongoing problem countywide) is a piece of partisan palaver. Fix those glaring problems with more funding and the implacable Republicans would be bitching about “runaway taxes.” If they really insist on affixing blame for the legion of social ills we suffer, they should do a little honest introspection and consult the less convenient passages in their religious texts for answers.

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