In January 2003, Milwaukee police officers found two guns in the home of the estranged wife of Rashid Salahuddin. Salahuddin himself was arrested shortly afterwards. Now, more than six years later, after many rounds of legal proceedings in state and federal court, Salahuddin still awaits final resolution of criminal charges stemming from the discovery of the guns.
In October 2008, Judge J.P. Stadtmueller of the Eastern District of Wisconsin summoned the United States Attorney and the Federal Defender to his office for an off-the record conversation about the case, which he characterized as “a total breakdown of justice.” Following this conversation, the government asked Stadtmueller to recuse himself from the case. When Stadtmueller refused, the government initiated proceedings in the Seventh Circuit to compel the district judge’s removal.
The Seventh Circuit has now agreed with the government that Stadtmueller’s statements at the October 2008 meeting required his recusal. In re United States of America (No. 09-2264) (Ripple, J.). Continue reading “Seventh Circuit Criminal Case of the Week: “A Total Breakdown of Justice””
For a resident of Milwaukee, there can be no question about the marquee Seventh Circuit case last week: the court decided the appeals of three of the defendants convicted in the notorious Frank Jude beating. In United States v. Bartlett, the court (per Chief Judge Easterbrook) affirmed the convictions of all three defendants and the sentences of two. However, the Seventh Circuit also vacated the sentence of Jon Bartlett, who will now have to be resentenced in the lower court.
As everyone living in the Milwaukee area knows, Bartlett and his codefendants were police officers convicted of civil rights violations for the savage beating suffered by Jude, a biracial man. For many, the Jude case, which received intense local media coverage, was emblematic of the state of police-community relations in inner-city Milwaukee.
Bartlett’s “win” on appeal resulted from a discrepancy in his sentencing. Continue reading “Seventh Circuit Case of the Week: The Jude Saga Continues”
Warm congratulations to our colleague, Professor Michael M. O’Hear, who recently received the Judge Robert W. Warren Public Service Award, at a ceremony during the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association’s annual meeting. It was a pleasure for a number of us to attend and see Michael receive well-deserved recognition for his service. As Nathan Fishbach, of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, noted in making the presentation, Michael is “a distinguished academician whose mission is to analyze and explain the dynamics of the sentencing process.” Indeed, Michael has become a national leader in the study and discussions concerning sentencing, and he has been active in this community as well.
At the same ceremony, the Eastern District presented its Judge Myron L. Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award to Foley & Lardner’s Thomas L. Shriner, Jr., an Indiana University law graduate and well-known Milwaukee litigator (and adjunct professor of law here at Marquette). The citation accompanying the award, written by Bill Mulligan, L’60, and Dean Joseph D. Kearney, concluded with the observation that Tom is “respected and admired for his prodigious knowledge of the law, great wit, smile, and willingness to help others.” Congratulations as well to Tom.
The full citations can be found here concerning Michael and here concerning Tom.
The Federal Nominating Commission for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which I chair, has forwarded four names to Senators Kohl and Feingold for further consideration as the next United States Attorney. The four candidates include three current federal prosecutors, Richard Frohling, Mel Johnson, and James Santelle, as well as Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Maxine White, who is a former federal prosecutor. The Commission is required to supply a list of four to six qualified candidates to the Senators, and does not rank the candidates on that list.
As Dean Kearney observed in an earlier post, I am chairing the Federal Nominating Commission that is reviewing applications for the United States Attorney post in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Dean Ken Davis of Wisconsin is chairing a counterpart commission that is reviewing applications for a federal judgeship in the Western District. Both sets of applications were due yesterday. The list of U.S. Attorney applicants is here, and the list of judicial applicants is here. Both groups include many individuals with impressive professional credentials. I think the people of Wisconsin should be pleased that so many well-qualified applicants have indicated an interest in these important positions of public service. If members of the public would like to comment on the qualifications of any of the applicants, they may send letters to Adam C. Korbitz, Government Relations Coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin, 5302 Eastpark Boulevard, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158.
As Dean Kearney noted in an earlier post, I am serving as chair of the Federal Nominating Commission for the United States Attorney position in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The Commission completed its first item of business this past week by approving the questionnaire to be used by applicants. The forms and instructions are available here. (The link also contains the nearly identical questionnaire to be used by applicants for the Western District judicial opening.) Applications are due at noon on March 2.
In reviewing the questionnaire, I am glad that I myself am not an applicant — we are asking applicants to gather and present a large quantity of information about themselves in a short period of time. I hope that well-qualified attorneys will not be deterred by this process. There is, of course, a delicate balance to strike: on the one hand, we do not wish to deter applicants through an unduly onerous process; but, on the other hand, it is critical for the Commission to have adequate information to assess the competence and integrity of all of the candidates for such an important position of public trust. I hope that we have struck the balance appropriately.
Since 1979, Wisconsin’s senators have used some form of what they term a “Federal Nominating Commission” to recommend individuals for vacant federal judgeships and U.S. Attorney’s positions. (One can see the current charter from the senators here.) Whether this approach is good public policy is a worthy question, but not my topic here.
Rather, I wish to make an observation concerning leadership of the Federal Nominating Commission: Where there is a vacancy, the charter calls for the dean of the law school in the federal judicial district (Marquette in the Eastern District and the UW-Madison in the Western District) or his designee to chair the commission. I have thus chaired the commission on occasions in the past.
With respect to the current vacancy in the U.S. Attorney’s position in the Eastern District, occasioned by the departure of Steve Biskupic, L’87, for private practice, I this week exercised my option to delegate my responsibilities. This occurs from time to time (e.g., the late Dean Howard B. Eisenberg tapped our colleague, Professor Peter K. Rofes, on one occasion in the 1990s, and a similar thing has occurred on occasion in the Western District).
Specifically, I have turned to my colleague, Michael M. O’Hear, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Research, and (least relevantly) managing editor of this blog. My principal reason, besides other demands on my attention, is my belief that Professor O’Hear — a leading legal academic in the area of criminal sentencing — is unusually well qualified to help guide this search.
I hope that Professor O’Hear will consider using this blog as one of the means of disseminating information about the Federal Nominating Commission’s important undertakings. In all events, the commission’s recommendation of four to six individuals to serve as the U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee is due to the senators under the charter near the end of March.
Our graduate and adjunct faculty member Steven Biskupic announced yesterday that he is stepping down from his post as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, effective January 9. Steve made us proud over his six years of distinguished service in this important position, winning convictions in many high-profile public corruption cases. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign after a new President is elected, but this is one instance in which the community may be ill-served by the custom. Best wishes, Steve, in your new endeavors!
Steve’s counterpart in the Western District, Erik Peterson (who is also a Marquette alum), has not yet announced his plans.
Last Tuesday, a consent judgment was entered in the Eastern District of Wisconsin resolving a free speech claim brought by a self-described “traveling evangelist.” The plaintiff Michael Foht was told by the Kewaskum Police that he could distribute religious literature only to people who said that they wanted it. This meant that he could not leave literature at private residences (he must first knock on the door and ask permission) or leaflet automobiles.
This instruction was based on an extraordinarily broad village ordinance which prohibited the distribution of “any printed matter on literature on public or private property” or the placement of such literature on motor vehicles. The ordinance had an exception for the distribution of literature to persons “willing to accept” it.
Foht apparently attempted to clarify the matter with the village attorney, who failed to return his calls. That turned out to be expensive.
Foht filed suit and the village, finally obtaining the proper legal advice, repealed the ordinance. The consent decree declares that the ordinance was facially unconstitutional and should not have been applied to Foht and awards him $11,000 in attorneys fees and costs.
The result is unexceptional, but the fact of the case may be instructive. What the law requires and whether it is complied with are two different matters. I doubt that this type of ordinance was only to be found in Kewaskum, Wisconsin.
Last week saw another round in the ongoing legal battle between the University of Wisconsin and the Madison campus’ Roman Catholic Foundation. In Roman Catholic Foundation v. Regents, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72980 (W.D. Wis., September 24, 2008), the court addressed the University’s refusal to allow segregated fees (that portion of a student’s tuition reserved for the funding of student organizations) to be used for certain RCF activities that the University regarded as worship, proselytizing, or sectarian instruction. These activities involved programs such as spiritual counseling, training RCF student leaders, the purchase of a drum shield to be used by the RCF’s praise band, and the printing of instructional pamphlets on praying the Rosary.
District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, sitting by designation, entered a declaratory judgment “stating that the University may not categorically exclude worship, proselytizing or sectarian instruction from segregated fee funding unless it does so pursuant to a rationale that is reasonable in light of the purposes of the forum and viewpoint neutral.”
As far as this goes, it seems to me to be consistent with recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court holding that even highly sectarian religious speech may not be excluded from a public forum if is otherwise within the forum’s purpose. Continue reading “Of Speeches and Sermons”