Monday, June 19, 2006

A Bone to Pick with Milwaukee's DA

In Saturday’s edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they reported on the sentencing of two men convicted in the killing of a minister on Milwaukee’s north side. Judge Kahn stated at their sentencing that this was clearly a hate crime. Judge Kahn is quoted in the story as saying the following:

"I can come to no other conclusion (than) Mr. Ward's suspicion or belief that Mr. Jemison was gay was a factor in the commission of the crime."

So the rhetorical question that I have for the Milwaukee County District Attorney is, why did you not charge these men with the Hate Crime Enhancer that Wisconsin has had on it’s books for years now? Perhaps a better question would be why have you never charged ANYONE (to my knowledge) with a hate crime?

I am told that District Attorney E. Michael McCann does not believe in the Hate Crime Statutes. I’m sure that he’d say that it is bad law and hard to prove. Yet here we have a clear case of the judge stating that this incident was a hate crime. We also have successful convictions that we can point to across the state. So why not utilize this enhancer in Milwaukee County?

Pardon me for lecturing a longtime DA, but you are a District Attorney not a legislator. If you don’t like the law then lobby the lawmakers. In the mean time it is your job to enforce the law as it is, not as you think it should be.

I have personal experience with the Milwaukee County DA not enforcing the Hate Crime Statute. I have a friend that was assaulted and permanently injured. Based on witness testimony, it was clearly a hate crime. Yet no hate crime was charged.

It is clear that the Hate Crime Statutes will not be used by the DA’s office with McCann at the helm. Let’s hope that the new District Attorney will enforce all of the laws in Wisconsin, not just the ones that he/she agrees with.

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