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August 4, 2015

Wisconsin attorney general will challenge new emission rules

Attorney General Brad Schimel

Attorney General Brad Schimel

Wisconsin’s attorney general is vowing to challenge proposed rules aimed at making power plants cut greenhouse gases.

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan calls for the nation’s power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Attorney General Brad Schimel on Monday joined fellow Republicans in voicing concerns that the policy will increase costs for ratepayers and businesses, resulting in “significant job losses.”

Following a request from Governor Scott Walker, Schimel said he plans to have Wisconsin join several other states in filing a lawsuit that seeks to stop what he called “the federal government’s unlawful actions.”

Walker on Monday also released a statement, accusing the president of “taking unilateral action and overstepping the limits of his authority to pursue a political agenda. The Obama Administration ignored the significant, overriding issues that will increase costs for Wisconsin ratepayers by up to $13 billion, unnecessarily harming families and killing manufacturing jobs.”

Walker, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, also said he is directing the state Department of Natural Resources and state Public Service Commission to work together to evaluate the financial impact of the rule.

Justice Prosser defends staying on John Doe probe

Justice David Prosser waves to supporters.

Justice David Prosser waves to supporters during his 2011 reelection campaign. (Photo: WRN)

Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is defending his decision to join the decision to end a controversial John Doe investigation, which had been looking into possible illegal coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election campaign and conservative groups.

Prosser was among the 4-2 majority which halted the probe earlier this month. He’s faced criticism, and was even asked to recuse himself from the case by the special prosecutor, because he benefitted from millions of dollars during his 2011 reelection campaign, which came from some of the targets of the John Doe.

A similar recusal request was made of Justice Michael Gableman, who has not released a response.

In letter dated July 29, Prosser laid out the reasoning behind his decision to stay on the case, noting that Supreme Court rules do not require him to step down just because of ties to defendants. Prosser wrote, “The rules are grounded in the reality that the law must permit contributions from people and entities who may have cases before the court because some attorneys and some entities are nearly always before the court.”

Prosser also noted the circumstances surrounding his highly contentious reelection campaign, which came right after the massive debate over Governor Walker’s collective bargaining legislation and was seen by many as a referendum on that policy.

Prosser faced a challenge from JoAnne Kloppenburg, in a race that ultimately resulted in a statewide recount. Millions of dollars were spent on outside ads benefitting both candidates, and Prosser points out that a decision to take public financing limited his own ability to respond. “While it can be argued that independent communications supporting my campaign were “significant and disproportionate,” there was no alternative under Wisconsin law for people who believed I had done a good job and wanted me to continue,” he wrote.

Prosser’s defense is itself drawing criticism. Matt Rothschild of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign called it a “pathetic” defense, and noted that Prosser even provided more evidence to support the arguments for why he should have stepped away from the case. Rothschild wrote “Justice Prosser’s letter is long on self-pity and self-justification but short on propriety and legal reasoning. It’s an embarrassment upon an embarrassment.”

State releases records in fatal shooting of Trooper Casper

Trooper Trevor Casper

Trooper Trevor Casper

The state Department of Justice is offering a more complete picture of the events surrounding a fatal shootout between State Trooper Trevor Casper and bank robber Steven Snyder. The agency on Tuesday released its investigation report and crime scene photos, along with video and audio from the response to the March 24th incident.

Dispatch audio caught the first report of the shooting, calling a “hot stop” with shots fired. Shortly afterwards, an officer reported Trooper Casper’s shooting by referring to his badge number. On audio from a dash cam in a squad car, an officer can be heard screaming at Casper to “stay with us Trevor.”

Video of the actual shootout and some other sensitive materials were not released.

Casper began following Snyder’s vehicle in Fond du Lac because it matched the description of one connected to a bank robbery earlier that day in Marinette County. Snyder had robbed the bank in Wausaukee, then killed Thomas Crist as he was fleeing to a getaway car. He then ambushed Casper while the state trooper was following him.

The entire exchange of gunfire took 17 seconds. Trooper Casper was hit three times and Snyder once. Both died from their injuries.

Officers found about $137,000 in cash inside Snyder’s car, along with a handwritten manifesto.

Affiliate KFIZ contributed to this report.

U.S. Supreme Court asked to review Ho-Chunk video poker ruling

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that allowed video poker machines to remain at the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Madison casino.

In an 83-page request filed Tuesday morning, the state argues the machines offer an experience that is based on a card game, meaning they violate the state’s gaming compact with the tribe. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb supported that reasoning in a ruling last year, but a federal appeals court in Chicago disagreed in April and overturned the decision.

The tribe has argued that the machines do not violate its compact because players compete against each other and they are not banked by the house. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the state would need to make that type of gambling activity a crime in order to keep the Ho-Chunk from operating the machines.

In Tuesday’s filing, the DOJ notes the appeals court decision conflicts with one made by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in another case. The state argues the Supreme Court should review the case because it involves “a question of national importance that is likely to rear its head over and over again in tribal gaming cases.”

Serial killer again seeking release from mental health facility

A 68-year-old serial killer is starting another attempt to be released from custody.

Alvin Taylor has been confined to the Mendota Mental Health Institute since the late 1980s, after killing four men in Wisconsin and Minnesota between 1985 and 1988.

Taylor was convicted of first degree murder in Dunn County, but was sent to Mendota instead of Prison. The nigh club singer, who traveled across the state, was also convicted of murder in Eau Claire County and attempted murder in Washington County.

A Washington County Judge on Tuesday ruled that two psychiatrists would be appointed to evaluate Taylor.

Taylor has been regularly seeking a conditional release from confinement since 2010. Even if his release is approved in Washington County, he would still need approval from courts in Dunn and Eau Claire Counties.

Rick Jensen, WBKV