UPDATE: Misconduct Trial

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 16, 2009 --- 5:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court says it will hear former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen's appeal to have his misconduct trial in a Capitol corruption case moved to his home county from Madison.

The court issued an order on Tuesday saying it will take the case.

A state appeals court ruled in January that Jensen's trial must stay in Madison. Jensen had asked that it be moved to Waukesha under a 2007 state law that allows elected officials to be tried in their home counties for ethics violations.

Jensen had hoped the move to the area where he served 14 years in the Legislature would set him up for an acquittal.

But a lower court judge and the appeals court denied it. Now he's going to have another shot with the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


UPDATED Thursday, January 15, 2009 --- 8:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state appeals court says former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen's new misconduct trial will take place in Madison instead of his hometown.

Jensen, a Waukesha Republican, was convicted in 2006 of three felony counts of misconduct in office. Dane County prosecutors accused him of using legislative aides as GOP campaign workers on state time using state resources.

But a state appeals court overturned his conviction in 2007 and ordered a new trial.

Jensen asked that the new trial be held in Waukesha under a 2007 state law that allows elected officials to be tried for some crimes in their home counties.

The 4th District Court of Appeals says that misconduct in office does not fall under the crimes the 2007 law was designed to cover.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


Posted November 8, 2007 --- 3:00 p.m.

Madison: The former Assembly Speaker convicted in the caucus scandal will get a new trial.

Scott Jensen was found guilty of misconduct in office in March of 2006. He was one of 5 lawmakers convicted for illegally directing state employees to raise campaign funds on state time.

Pleading guilty were former Democratic leaders Chuck Chvala and Brian Burke and Republican leaders Steve Foti and Bonnie Ladwig.

Jensen and aide Sherry Schultz were the only ones to go to trial.

It's been 20 months since he was convicted and it will be a lot longer before he sees the inside of a prison cell...if he ever does at all.

On March 11th, 2006 Scott Jensen was found guilty of 3 felonies and a misdemeanor for misconduct in office. His aide, Sherry Schultz was convicted of one felony.

"We felt like we did the right thing and we were proud of it." says Steve Struss, the jury foreman. He was not happy to hear a State Court of Appeals has reversed their judgement. "I was very disappointed. I feel like as a jury we did our job. It was a fair trial."

The Court of Appeals says the judge made two mistakes. First Judge Steven Ebert did not allow Jensen to testify about his intent when Jensen ordered state workers to illegally campaign on state time.

Second, Judge Ebert issued an erroneous jury instruction which could have had an impact on their guilty verdict.

Struss disagrees. "We listened to the judge's instructions, but I don't think it's going to sway us one way or another as far as guilty or not guilty."

Sherry Schultz's verdict was reversed as well because of the jury instruction and both are now eligible for a new trial.

Steve Struss says he'd be shocked if a second jury reached a different verdict. "If they heard the same evidence we heard I don't see how they could come to a different conclusion. The evidence was overwhelmingly against him."

In a statement Scott Jensen says he is "very thankful for the decision issued by the Court of Appeals."

The Department of Justice now has 30 days to determine if they will appeal this decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court or if they will simply ask for a new trial.

Jury Foreman Steve Struss says one positive that came from the trial was the jury sent a message to the legislature about illegal campaigning.

Jay Heck of Common Cause says another trial for Scott Jensen would send that message again. "In a strange way, that might be useful to remind the citizens of Wisconsin what happened in the state capitol not that many years ago that erupted in the biggest political scandal in modern times in this state."

Scott Jensen was sentenced to 15 months in prison for these crimes, but he is allowed to remain free while on appeal.