Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Milwaukee Commissioner Who Bungled Darrell Brooks’ Bail Removed from Criminal Court

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He was reassigned “shortly after the date in question,” -Chief Judge Mary Triggiano

Cedric Cornwall, the Milwaukee County court commissioner who set Darrell Brooks’ bail at a measly $1,000 in a serious felony case not long before the Waukesha parade attack, has been reassigned indefinitely to non-criminal cases, Wisconsin Right Now has exclusively learned.

We learned that Cornwall and other court commissioners are up for annual review, so we asked Chief Judge Mary Triggiano whether she has disciplined Cornwall, who set Brooks’ bail during an initial appearance for a Nov. 5, 2021, felony case in which Brooks was accused of running a woman over with a car.

Triggiano told Wisconsin Right Now:

“I am reviewing what happened and any kind of discipline is an administrative issue I can’t talk about,” she said. “Cornwall has been indefinitely reassigned to a non-criminal caseload right now.”

Triggiano said commissioners were last reviewed in December 2020 and she confirmed that their next reviews are being scheduled now, although some won’t be until January or February. She said that court commissioners qualify for step raises, but she doesn’t believe any, including Cornwall, are up for those now.

She said it was “the most prudent thing to do under the circumstances.” She said she is continuing to “review the situation.”

Court commissioners, when they aren’t handling criminal cases, also do work in juvenile and small claims courts. She said Cornwall, a former public defender before he became a court commissioner 16 years ago, will likely “fluctuate between them both.”

Cedric Cornwall

Cedric cornwall
Cedric cornwall

Cedric Cornwall was first hired as a court commissioner long before she was a chief judge. She said she has only conducted one of his annual reviews and described him as “pretty conscientious. He does his job well. I have never had any complaints on him.”

He was reassigned “shortly after the date in question,” she said, referring to the parade attack date.

He has been a commissioner for 16 years. Commissioners need to be “reviewed and recertified every year,” she said.

The review process involves a performance and evaluation review, review of any complaints and discipline. Cedric Cornwall is also supervised by two others, presiding court commissioner Maria Dorsey and Judge Timothy Witkowiak, she said.

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The poll found only 14% of voters said it was “very likely” Harris would win a general election for president if she became the Democratic nominee. Another 20% said it was “somewhat likely.”

The poll is especially noteworthy given Biden's age. The incumbent president is 81 years old and appears increasingly in decline.

A moment of confusion for Biden at a June 6 D-Day ceremony went viral last week, the latest in a string of similar incidents. At the same time, Biden remains competitive with former President Donald Trump, though several polls suggest Trump has a lead over the president.

Biden's incidents have led some to speculate that Democrats could or should try to replace Biden at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August. That would be a highly unusual, though not impossible, move. Removing Biden would naturally raise the question about who could replace him, but for now voters seem to lack confidence that Harris could win.

The poll also looked ahead to 2028: “If President Joe Biden were not in the running for president in 2028, which of the following Democrats, if any, would you want to be the Democratic candidate for president?”

While Harris was top of the list among Democrats, she only received 21% support. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg both received 10% support each, while 41% said they were unsure or didn't know.

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Evers recently called for an operational and an instructional audit of MPS.

“I’m proposing today to go two steps further with two important goals: the first, to audit MPS’ programs and operations in their entirety, and the second, to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district,” Evers said.

The governor, however, wants to keep the audit within his administration and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that’d be a mistake.

“I’m glad that Gov. Evers has called for an audit of the Milwaukee Public School System. Gov. Evers and DPI should work with Joint Legislative Audit Committee Co-Chairs [Eric] Wimberger and [Robert] Wittke to discuss authorizing the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau to audit MPS, DPI and any other involved stakeholders,” LeMahieu said. “The LAB is more than capable of handling this important undertaking independently and transparently without the use of outside contractors.”

The worry is an audit controlled by the governor’s office will not fully look into MPS’s shortcomings.

The calls for audits in Milwaukee Public Schools come after the state withheld nearly $17 million last week because of incomplete and late financial reports. One of those reports was due to the Department of Public Instruction in September 2023.

Evers has asked MPS leaders to be a part of any audit process but warned that not everyone will be invited.

“I also have to say – I’m exceedingly disappointed by the politicking and jockeying I’ve seen since this situation came to light by opportunists who’re seizing this moment to serve their own selfish goals instead of worrying about what matters most: our kids,” Evers added.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took to social media to accuse the governor of being the one who is playing politics.

“And who do you think [Evers] will suggest conducts the audits?” Vos asked. “The same failed DPI bureaucrats who allowed this to happen or his administration who wanted to dismantle the school choice system so all kids were forced into this MPS mess? We need real reforms to the current mentality where MPS has been protecting the bureaucracy and Gov. Evers has been advocating for shoveling hundreds of millions of dollars into this broken system.”

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