Crime and Court Roundup: Madison judge who halted the ID law signed the Walker recallWisconsin News
-- A Madison judge temporarily halted Wisconsin’s voter I-D law yesterday – and we later learned that he had signed a petition to recall Governor Scott Walker.
MADISON - A Madison judge temporarily halted Wisconsin’s voter I-D law yesterday – and we later learned that he had signed a petition to recall Governor Scott Walker.
The petitions show that Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan signed one of them last November 15th. And his wife Maureen, a former assistant attorney general, was listed as the circulator. Yesterday, Judge Flanagan delayed implementation of the photo ID law at least until April 16th, when he can hold a trial on a lawsuit from the NAACP and the Hispanic group Voces de la Frontera. That means voters will not have to show ID’s or sign poll books in the state’s presidential primary on April third. The judge’s ruling had some very harsh words for the law, to which Walker gave final approval last year when he signed it. The judge called it “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law in the country,” and he agreed with the plaintiffs in saying it would hurt the poor, elderly, and minorities who have a harder time than others in getting legitimate ID’s. The judge called the law quote, “extremely broad and largely needless.”
The State Justice Department plans to appeal Flanagan’s decision. The state GOP says it will ask the Judicial Commission to find out why Flanagan did not withdraw from the case after signing the Walker recall petition. GOP spokesman Ben Sparks says it puts the entire court case into question. But election attorney Michael Maistelman tells the Journal Sentinel it should not affect the case itself, because Walker is being sued in his official capacity as governor – and not as a possible political candidate in a recall election. Meanwhile, another Madison judge – Richard Niess – will hold a hearing Friday on the League of Women Voters’ claim that the voter ID law is unconstitutional. On Monday, Niess rejected the state’s effort to throw out that lawsuit.
Prosecutors say a drunk driver could face 25 years in prison, after he was convicted of lesser charges in a hit-and-run crash that killed a University of Minnesota student from Appleton. Jurors found 29-year-old Tim Bakdash guilty yesterday of second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Benjamin Van Handel last April. Bakdash was also convicted of two counts of second-degree attempted murder, for injuring two young women who were walking with Van Handel when they were struck. And the driver was convicted of five other felonies. A sentencing date has not been set. Bakdash testified that he got into a skirmish with a man after leaving a Minneapolis bar – and while driving home, Bakdash thought he saw the man and intended only to scare him and not kill him. Prosecutors insisted Bakdash had planned to kill Van Handel. But the original charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder were dismissed by the jury. The victim’s father, Steve Van Handel of Appleton, said he was prepared for the first-degree acquittal – but he said the vindication of the verdict was still good, and he was happy.
A Wisconsin police chief arrested in Nebraska last week is due back home within eight days. 29-year-old Shay Larson has waived extradition in Buffalo County Nebraska. He’ll be turned over to Vernon County authorities by next Thursday. Larson is the Readstown police chief who was charged with eight crimes after a six-month investigation. And until his arrest, he was still being paid while working at home on administrative leave. Larson is accused of improperly touching a female drug informant, and joining drinkers at a birthday party in a village park. A woman also told investigators she felt compelled to give the chief oral sex three times because of his position, and he allegedly lied to investigators about the activity before coming clean. He was taken into custody last Friday at a truck stop along Interstate-80 near Elm Creek in central Nebraska. That was a day after prosecutors filed a complaint charging Larson with two felony counts of misconduct in public office – plus six misdemeanors that include disorderly conduct, fourth-degree sexual assault, and obstructing officers.