MADISON — Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm predicted a long time ago that his “progressive” style of law enforcement would come back to hurt society.
“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” the Democrat DA told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2007. “You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”
That “individual” is Darrell E. Brooks Jr, according to police. Brooks now faces six counts of intentional homicide after he allegedly plowed through a Waukesha Christmas parade on Nov. 21. Dozens more were injured, many of them seriously.
The heartbreaking fact is that Brooks should have been in jail. Instead, he was free on a measly $1,000 bail after being arrested on charges of running over the mother of his child days before the Waukesha massacre. The obscenely low bail amount — for a career criminal and repeat bail jumper — was at the direction of Chisholm’s office.
Chisholm has acknowledged that the bail recommendation was “inappropriately low.” He said his office is investigating.
There’s a lot of inappropriately low bail offered in the revolving door Milwaukee County criminal justice system that John Chisholm has helped create. You don’t have to look too long to find the evidence.
The latest example is Donta Roberts, a 20-year-old Milwaukee man charged this week with first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of a man just four days after the Waukesha massacre. A review of Roberts’ court records shows he was out on $500 bail after being charged with intentionally pointing a firearm at someone in September 2020. His rap sheet includes multiple charges of bail jumping.
In the reckless homicide charge, the criminal complaint notes the victim’s young child witnessed the shooting. The “child heard gunshots and saw the car hit a parked car, then drive away.”
In August 2020, Roberts was arrested on charges of 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety and use of a dangerous weapon. Cash bond in that case was set at $1,500, but it was later refunded after Judge David Feiss granted a motion to exclude evidence and dismiss the case. Feiss will come up again in Brooks’ journey through the Milwaukee County criminal justice system.
Untold numbers of repeat offenders facing serious charges have walked out of Milwaukee County custody on inappropriately low bail. The buck stops with Chisholm, but as Wisconsin Right Now reported earlier this week, there are a lot of progressive justice players in an increasingly dangerous game of restorative justice.
The problems begin at the top.
WRN notes far left Attorney General Josh Kaul and his Assistant AG Jacob Corr previously allowed the man accused of the rampage in Waukesha a get-out-of-jail-cheap card.
“Brooks had two felony cases in Milwaukee County that were pending when the parade attack occurred; they represented two chances to get him off the streets. In the first case, a 2020 shooting, Judge David Feiss reduced Brooks’ bail to $500, resulting in him going free. Jacob Corr was the state prosecutor who appeared in court for the bail hearing. Records show the state offered Brooks a deal; Corr’s boss, Josh Kaul, won’t say what it was. Chisholm fell on his sword over his assistant’s bail recommendation in Brooks’ other pending felony, but Kaul has said nothing about Corr. His involvement in the case has completely escaped the media radar,” WRN reported.
The aforementioned Feiss could have checked the low bail recommendations. He didn’t.
It was Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Cedric Cornwall who set Brooks’ bail at $1,000 after Brooks was accused of using the same SUV involved in the Waukesha massacre to run over his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child at a gas station. That incident occurred 19 days before the deadly events that unfolded at the Christmas parade.
As WRN notes, Corr also did not file bail jumping charges in the case when Brooks was accused of committing the new felony at the gas station even though he had several weeks to do so.
Chisholm’s assistant DA Carole Manchester argued for the “inappropriately low” bail amount for Brook, WRN reports. That contributed to Cornwall’s decision to set Brooks’ bail at $1,000.
“The State made a cash bail request in this case of $1,000, which was set by the court. The defendant posted $1,000 cash bail on November 11, resulting in his release from custody,” Chisholm said in a statement. “The State’s bail recommendation, in this case, was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent changes and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks.”
It wasn’t a rare mistake in the District Attorney’s office.
A WTMJ-TV investigation found dozens of domestic abuse cases assigned to Manchester where bail was set under $1,000, including 45 felonies.
Milwaukee County Chief Judge Mary Triggiano’s “failed management of the court system post-COVID has resulted in a two-year backlog and 350 backlogged jury trials as of September 2021 – one of them Brooks.’ If Triggiano had prioritized public safety as much as the Delta variant, Brooks would have been tried, and possibly kept off the streets,” Wisconsin Right Now reported.
The failures cross county lines.
Brooks also had a separate Waukesha paternity/child support case that could have put him back in jail. “But Herring refused a request from a state child support attorney (Waukesha’s Daniel Sielaff) to jail Darrell E Brooks just five days before the parade attack, despite Brooks’ extremely poor history in the case,” WRN reported.
State Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin) told Empower Wisconsin it’s time to stiffen the laws to end the left’s catch-and-release programs that have proved so deadly.
“We have to pray for healing, but for these families we owe it to them to do whatever we can to limit the opportunity for something like this to happen again,” said Bradley, who tells Empower Wisconsin he and his colleagues will soon be introducing legislation on minimum bail thresholds.