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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:07 AM

Invisible No More

http://www.milwaukeemag.com/article/1212013-InvisibleNoMore

For six years, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has operated largely under the radar, becoming a national example, some say, of a new kind of prosecutor, one who focuses on reducing crime and improving the community. But have a series of high-profile cases tarnished the image?

Aug. 24 was a picture-perfect Milwaukee Friday. The sun was out, temps were in the mid-80s, and the rain stayed away. But for Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a shadow would soon be cast.

Across the concrete plaza that stretches from the County Safety Building housing Chisholm’s office to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, a Circuit Court jury of 12 men and women were hearing the political corruption case against former Milwaukee County Board member Johnny Thomas. After deliberating for less than 90 minutes, they returned their verdict.

Not guilty.

An hour later, Chisholm was remarkably calm, even matter-of-fact.

“I just got my butt handed to me,” he said, a wry half-smile playing about his lips.

The sangfroid of the moment was pure John Chisholm. No grousing about the jurors. No railing at the defense lawyer. Indeed, just after getting the verdict, he had telephoned Thomas’ attorney, Craig Mastantuono, with congratulations. And no second-guessing his decision to bring the shocking bribery charges against Thomas in the first place.

It fits the low-key, stoic style that Chisholm has brought to the job since he was first elected Milwaukee County DA in 2006. Although re-elected in November without opposition, Chisholm has been the least-visible of Milwaukee’s top elected officials. Now, he’s turned into the still, quiet eye in the center of a series of gathering storms. He’ll need that cool, calm, even wooden demeanor like never before....


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Reply Invisible No More (Original post)
hue Feb 2013 OP
Scuba Feb 2013 #1

Response to hue (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:28 AM

1. Thanks hue. Good read, with important insights into Chisholm's character...

One thing's clear: he's not going after Walker (or other pols) because he likes the spotlight.


Chisholm has taken such an expansive view of the role his office can play in reducing crime that he’s reached out to groups well outside the criminal justice system.

“I don’t think he views his job solely as prosecuting people and putting them in jail,” says Dan Bader, president of the Helen Bader Foundation. “I think he views his job as, ‘How do I help people live a productive life, given the tools that I have?’”

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske says Chisholm is a collaborative leader who has become a national role model in his field. “He’s the epitome of good government,” says Geske, now at Marquette University. “He’s very present throughout the community, but he doesn’t try to grab headlines or promote himself.”

For Chisholm, the numbers act as proof that the approach is working – reduced domestic violence homicides, a homicide conviction rate of about 98 percent and reduced incarceration. “We’ve got 3,000 fewer people in the Wisconsin prison system from Milwaukee than we had five or six years ago,” he says. “That’s a success story because the violent crime rate hasn’t exploded.”




As a note, the Bader Foundation is a "philanthropic partner" with our community in areas as diverse as Alzheimer's, youth mentoring and jobs development. Former Justice Geske is a highly respected jurist/professor who got her start at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. These are good people saying nice things about Chisholm.

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