Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Milwaukee Magazine needs technical advice

Bruce Murphy apparently thinks that at least parts of the state criminal complaint against Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. are "overkill."

But as a result of wiretapping McGee’s phone, Chisholm has thrown in this bizarre conspiracy by McGee and two others to commit bodily harm against someone – except that no violence ever occurred. Even weirder is a charge of contempt of court because McGee was overheard calling a judge names on the phone. Is Chisholm serious? Contempt of court normally occurs in public, in an open courtroom, where negative comments might help undermine our respect for the judicial system. But McGee was having a private conversation with a couple friends and blowing off a little steam.

What’s next, nabbing the alderman for writing naughty graffiti?

Murphy has done some great reporting, but this one really got past him. In this case, he doesn't seem to understand what he is writing about.

The first two counts - solicitation to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit substantial battery - do not require that "violence" occur. The first requires only that McGee advise another to commit a crime under circumstances that indicate unequivocally that he had the intent that the crime be committed. The second requires only that he conspire with others to commit the crime of substantial battery and that one of the conspirators do an act to effect the object of the conspiracy.

According to the complaint, McGee - in multiple phone calls - acted as a go between for an individual who believed that the potential victim had burglarized his home and another who was initially going to kill the alleged burglar but, ultimately, agreed to have him beat up when the first man indicated that he did not want him killed. According to the complaint, McGee facilitated the agreement of a price for the beating and provided the person who was to have it done with a photograph of the intended victim.

Maybe these things will not be proven or there is evidence - not referred to in the complaint - that will support a defense. But the fact that the conspiracy was not completed or the solicitation not acted upon does not, in and of itself, make the charges defective or unusual. There is a reason that solicitation and conspiracy are called "inchoate crimes." They need not be finished.

The supposedly "even weirder" criminal contempt counts are not, as Murphy seems to think, based upon McGee "calling a judge names on the phone" (although the complaint does recite that he did that). Rather these counts - 10, 11, and 12 in the complaint - are expressly predicated on McGee's alleged disclosure of the substance of the John Doe proceedings in violation of a secrecy order. In other words, the contempt is based not on calling the judge a name, but upon disobeying her order.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well. I think its fair to say that with, oh, a half dozen state and fed charges that are both deadly and deal with simple corruption and mobsterism, when does enough become enough to do justice.

The way the criminal code is written there can be an infinite number of charges. At some point there's oughta be enough meaty ones to be done. After that it starts to look petty and vindictive and I think we are edging into that territory.

Anonymous said...

The anon. comment at the top is on the right track. Enough is enough and then we are into prosecutorial piling-on.

But Esenberg is right when he cites what the statures mean.

Murphy's lack of understanding of what constitutes conspiracy, and contemt, is deeply lacking.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this. I read Murphy, and he usually is trustworthy. But not this time. Reading this post sent me to the documents.

Result? Now keeping large grains of salt at hand for Murphy's columns.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Although I generally appreciate Murphy's attempts at being provocative and contrarian, and that he provides a serious alternative viewpoint to the Journal Sentinel, he simply didn't know what he was writing about in this instance.

Anonymous said...

they are probably piling it on because:

1) Chisholm, a democrat, has to justify himself to the ghetto vote. During is campaign he duly showed up to solicit votes at the various functions of "black leaders"/McGee stalwarts, shook hands, and observed the usual militant rantings of people who believe there is no social contract because they live under state oppression engineered by white racists. the impression of these "leaders" was real that they owned chisholm (vocalized on WNOV, etc) and he would not "be another mcann," i.e. fail to put cops in jail but not thugs favored by "the community."

2) If McGee does not go down, the whole situation in which McGee has tentacled himself will become infinitely worse. A person who has extorted, conspired to kill or beat, and defraud constituents re. their basic voting rights cannot remain in office without cessation of the social contract as we know it.

McGee in office would be living proof the criminals have won. Not because one junior alderman is all powerful but because the rest -- the entire system up the the DA -- and the general populace is powerless to tell shit from shinola.

McGee is the symbolic representative of the lawless/those who think government does and should work much as a drug cartel or mafia. Faced with that reality, good people move or take up arms against such oppressors.

Anonymous said...

3) moron judge might well agree with murphy, has record of stupidity

http://www.earlyspinblog.com/?p=1024

Xoff said...

Anonymous says " 1) Chisholm, a democrat, has to justify himself to the ghetto vote. During is campaign he duly showed up to solicit votes at the various functions of "black leaders"/McGee stalwarts, shook hands, and observed the usual militant rantings of people who believe there is no social contract because they live under state oppression engineered by white racists. the impression of these "leaders" was real that they owned chisholm (vocalized on WNOV, etc) and he would not "be another mcann," i.e. fail to put cops in jail but not thugs favored by "the community."

I'm not sure what you were trying to suggest, but you might recall that the candidate who pandered, and won the central city in the primary, was not Chisholm but Laraine McNamara-McGraw.

Anonymous said...

"piling on" of the charges, as some have said, isn't generally done maliciously. The more charges you have on the docket, the more leverage you have in getting a satisfactory plea bargain. Why not cite all charges for which you have evidence if it will lead to a negotiated plea that locks him up for a while?

illusory tenant said...

But I thought the "ghetto vote" was committed to McGee no matter how many counts his criminal complaints recite.

Anonymous said...

I think Murphy's larger point is that there is a premise on the part of many people that Mcgee is guilty but that there only seems to be that he is guilty of talking dangerously, maybe.

As for calling a judge names, it seems to me that many people and lawyers and perhaps some other judges would be guilty if that was contempt.

I don't like Mcgee but I don't like jumping to conclusions even more. Wheres the evidence that he wasn't just talking like a big shot trying to impress people.

Anonymous said...

I agree, when McGee was working out the details on "peeling back wigs" or "sewing caps on", it was just HYPERBOLE. We needn't concern outselves with these minor infractions of a sitting Alderman.
And Murphy is right about the John Doe contempt too. McGee commonly talks about sealed John Doe investigations and the Judges involved for absolutely no reason.
Please people, follow the story use your brains.
McGee conspired with other thugs to have a man BEATEN. His murder had been part of the discussions.
Doesn't that trouble you?
McGee was talking (we still haven't got the details) about a sealed John Doe and called the sitting judge a "bitch" in those discussions. Why was he discussing that??
Use your brains folks. There's much more detail to come.

James Pawlak said...

Mr. Murphy's writers also need technical advise (Since offered and refused) about firearms, TO WIT: They published an article have .38 caliber rounds traveling at 1000-feet/second.

A simple check of the internet would have yielded information that a
reasonable muzzle velocity is about
780-feet/second.

I wonder what other errors are included in their articles.

Rick Esenberg said...

What charges would you not bring? The conspiracy to beat a guy? The illegal attempts to influence an election? The theft of campaign funds? The disregard of a court order? What principle justifies a free pass for those who break too many laws to be squeezed into, say, ten pages?

Anonymous said...

Rick - how about the principal not to Nifong anyone?

Rick Esenberg said...

If he's Nifonging him, it will be because the charges aren't true and he ought to know it. It won't be because he charged "too many" crimes even though they were committed.

Anonymous said...

godallmighty rick, you know damn well its not about a free pass. the guy is already done-for, for good reason. yeah, a mcann didn't load up dahlmer with disorderly conduct and other petty charges because he didn't need to.

the idea that enough is enough is not a plea for mercy, its a plea for judgment on how to deliver justice in the most useful way.

Do we have to do this? Ok - your comment suggests that every conceivable offense should be charged, like many serious, multi-count cases, that would be 500 charges of all varieties give how the criminal code is written.

I like most believe the guy to be corrupt and that he will be destroyed by this. If you want to hold yourself out as a lawyer here, do the goddamn job and stop simply doing your hannity imitation.

I think Mcgee is done and needs to be, as do most. i think the last 1/2 dozen charges are petty enough - compared to the real meat here - that it cheapens the larger prosecution. Don't pretend that this very real idea is an argument for giving him a pass.

Anonymous said...

Rick - wouldn't the more with less rule apply? Rather than the - if you throw enough toliet paper against the wall that some is going to stick rule.

Are all the charges stemming from the same evidence?