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Scott Jensen Still Making Headlines In Wisconsin State Journal

January 25, 2009

As Dee Hall, one of the great Wisconsin newspaper reporters in the business writes, some are talking about Scott Jensen’s long and winding legal road as  “the case highlights the difference between the type of defense poor and rich defendants receive. ”  Readers will note the Jensen mess has been a topic that has received its fair amount of space on Caffeinated Politics.

Scott Jensen is the disgraced former Wisconsin Republican Speaker of the Assembly who used state employees for campaign purposes, and was found guilty of three felonies by a jury.  His saga, as Dee Hall writes, is a long and frustrating one for everyone.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the fact that the defendants have avoided a final outcome for more than six years is “a miscarriage of justice.”

Another factor is Jensen’s access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money and taxpayer-funded legal help, which has allowed him to mount the type of no-holds-barred defense that most people could never afford.

“Part of the problem is the system is accommodating a very well-connected person with a lot of money who can afford to pay high-priced attorneys for years on end,” McCabe said. “Ordinary citizens are not treated this way. An ordinary citizen who is charged with a crime often has his case decided in weeks or months — not almost seven years.”

But Jensen’s attorney, Robert Friebert, was unapologetic for the lengthy litigation, saying his client is merely exercising the same rights all defendants share.

“Jensen did not get a fair trial due to a defective jury instruction which was requested by the state. Jensen objected to the instruction,” said Friebert, of Milwaukee. “Jensen cannot be blamed for the fact that this instruction was used.”

Kempinen agreed that Jensen had no more rights than anyone else to appeal.

“The only thing that was unique about the appeal (of his conviction) is that it was successful,” he said.

But Kempinen also agreed with McCabe that few people could afford the type of legal battle Jensen has waged — and that’s bad news for those who value a system that’s supposed to offer equal justice for all.

“It doesn’t mean that the day of reckoning won’t come if Mr. Jensen is found guilty,” Kempinen said. “But it will be delayed.”

One Comment
  1. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    January 26, 2009 9:11 AM

    I think disgraced former Senator Scott Jensen should do what Governor Blago is trying to do. Hire a PR firm and go on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Greta VanSustern and The View and try to garner sympathy that way. Lob soft ball questions and say nothing. That is the American Way.

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