Attorney General hopeful would devote resources to helping Milw. prosecutors go after gun crimes

MADISON (AP) — Republican attorney general hopeful Brad Schimel says he would devote state Justice Department resources to helping Milwaukee prosecutors go after gun crimes — if they agree not to drop charges in plea deals.

Schimel's campaign released a statement Thursday, October 16th saying Schimel believes Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been dropping charges against felons who possess firearms or choosing not to charge them.

Schimel said he would devote DOJ investigators and prosecutors to Milwaukee but only if local prosecutors agree not to dismiss possession charges during plea discussions. Schimel acknowledged his offer "absolutely" comes with strings attached.

A spokesman for Schimel's opponent, Democrat Susan Happ, says the attorney general should offer to help local prosecutors without interfering in their decisions.

Meanwhile, Chisholm has issued this statement:

"I am disappointed that District Attorney Brad Schimel relied on misleading data from “Media Trackers.” If he would have contacted our office prior to the release, he would have realized that the facts behind the statistics show numerous arrests involving situations where there was simply no proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Examples include: multiple incidents where arrests were based upon the statements of citizen witnesses who later refused to cooperate with police and our office and no weapon was ever recovered; multiple arrests involving the recovery of a weapon in possession of no one but accessible or within reach of multiple individuals present at the time of the recovery and no DNA or fingerprints are recovered; a gun recovered from a hidden location in a house occupied by a felon as well as several other individuals with no way of determining who possessed or had knowledge of the weapon.

The decisions in these cases demonstrate the gap between the level of proof necessary for an arrest and that needed for a conviction. This is not a criticism of law enforcement: officers are authorized to arrest on probable cause alone, and it may be prudent to do so. Ethical standards for prosecutors, however, require that cases proceed only when there is proof of guilt beyond a reasonable.

Any ethical prosecutor would not prosecute any of these cases. I would accept the offer of resources from any person who occupied the office of the Attorney General. However, I am glad that as a candidate in the attorney general’s race that Mr. Schimel is offering resources to Milwaukee County. However, collaboration starts with professional communication focused on accuracy and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this press release does not exhibit these qualities."