Scott Jensen jury selection hits a snag | Wis.Community

Scott Jensen jury selection hits a snag

Jury selection began today in the retrial of former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, a mere eight years after he was charged with felony misconduct in office, and four years after he was convicted of three felonies and sentenced to 15 months in prison, of which he has not served a day.*

The case could be delayed further, however, by difficulties finding a jury of 12 of Jensen's peers to serve on the panel.

"We were thinking we could empanel a jury of Chuck Chvala, Brian Burke, Steve Foti,and some other former legislators who were convicted of similar crimes, but Jensen's lawyers objected because those people actually paid some penalties, including fines and jail time, for what they did," a Waukesha prosecutor said. "It's going to be hard to find 12 people who did the kinds of things Jensen did and got off scot free."

The State Supreme Court ruled that the new trial has to be in Waukesha County, Jensen's home, because of a law passed in 2007, five years after Jensen was charged. He was convicted in Dane County, which is full of Democrats, and Jensen's legal team has vowed to make certain only conservative Republicans are on the Waukesha jury.

The case probably won't come to trial, because the Waukesha DA, Brad Schimel, is -- surprise! -- a Republican who says he's very busy and wouldn't mind settling the case without having to try it. The state Dept. of Justice helped prosecute the last trial, but Atty. Gen. J.B. Van Hollen, another Republican, would prefer to make a deal to end the case, and won't say whether he'll allow DOJ resources to be used at re-trial.

The original prosecutor, Dane County DA Brian Blanchard, who knows it inside and out, is about to become a judge, but wouldn't be allowed to prosecute it anyway because he is a Dane County Democrat and that might be unfair to Jensen. Or something like that.

For the half of the population that wasn't old enough to vote yet back when Jensen was charged, he was charged with using state employees to work illegally on political campaigns on state time, including hiring one person, Sherry Schultz, whose only job as a state employee was to spend full time raising money for Republican candidates at taxpayer expense. She was convicted and is also going to get a new trial, so maybe she could be on the jury.

*OK, I made a little bit of this up -- the part about the jury selection. But the rest of it is true, which leads me to think that maybe the jury selection part is plausible, too. Unfortunately, what's really going to happen, it appears, is that Scooter Jensen, having betrayed the public trust, is going to walk away with a slap on the wrist. That's a shame, if not a crime.

For a refresher on what was called the caucus scandal, this website has a good collection of information. It's maintained by Donald Fish, a disgruntled former Democratic Party worker who filed a complaint and became part of the case, so it's a little selective in what is included, but useful.


June 1, 2010 - 11:21am