Gov. Evers supports voters deciding Chisholm's fate instead of forcing him out, open to bail reform
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Days following a formal complaint seeking the removal of Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, Governor Tony Evers says his office will launch an investigation if necessary, but would rather have voters decide Chisholm's fate than "kicking someone out of office."
Evers' comments come after a complaint was filed on Dec. 17 by Orville Seymer and a group of citizens who want Chisholm removed from office after one of his staffers recommended the release of Darrell Brooks on $1,000 bail.
Days after his release, Brooks allegedly drove his SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six and injuring dozens.
The governor said he's still reviewing the complaint, and committed to launching an investigation if the individuals who signed the petition to remove Chisholm are indeed residents of Milwaukee County.
Evers is aware of the situation that led to Brooks' low bail, but said it's too soon to comment if Chisholm should be forced out.
"People have other options other than me kicking someone out of office," Evers said. "I've seen the DA talk about this and they identified where the problem actually was, so it's just too early for me to make a judgement on that."
The petition, signed by six people, calls on Evers to investigate and then remove Chisholm.
The three-page petition reads in part: "These tragedies are the direct result of District Attorney Chisholm's [sic] negligence in protecting the citizens of Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin."
Chisholm has refused to step down and called the bail set for Brooks "inappropriately low."
"Quitting in the face of fire is not the proper approach to take," Chisholm said on Dec. 2.
The prosecutor assigned to the case didn't have access to Brooks' risk assessment when determining bail because it wasn't uploaded in the system, Chisholm said.
Brooks' low bail was set in a separate case where he allegedly tried to run over a woman he has a child with, using the same car he used days later to plow through the Waukesha parade.
Evers agrees Brooks should have not been out on bail and said he's willing to discuss ways to reform the bail system.
Tough on crime proposals such as bail reform and revoking probation for repeat offenders are top of mind for Republicans to address next year.
One proposal introduced would remove restrictions judges face when it comes to setting bail, by allowing them to consider how dangerous a defendant might be to the public.
"If there are ways we can have a fair way to identify someone is going to be violent going forward and a judge wants to use that, that's fine," Evers said. "I think we need to step back from the [Waukesha] event and get some good ideas out there."
Attorney General Josh Kaul is also supportive of Republican proposals to reform the state's bail system and is encouraging lawmakers to look at how the federal government determines bail.
Kaul said it aims to prevent situations where dangerous individuals who can afford high bail amounts pay up and then are released from jail.
"Where someone in the state may have a high bail and is a danger to the public, but if they have access to resources they might be able to get out," said Kaul during an interview earlier this month.