“I want to send a strong message to you,” Jennifer Dorow told Michael Liu.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow was tougher than the law required – and than the prosecutor and defense attorney requested – in the Michael Liu misdemeanor case that has hit the news.
When she went beyond the recommendations of the state AND defense attorney to give Liu a tougher sentence in late November, Dorow gave Michael Liu a stern lecture. “You will actually serve more than the condition time that was being recommended,” Jennifer Dorow told Liu at sentencing, court records obtained exclusively by WRN reveal.
“I want to hold you accountable. I want to send a very strong message to you, this behavior is not something society condones. And despite your lack of prior record, the violence and the fact the most aggregating factor is violence in front of your children, demands a swift and stiff response by this court.” She also ordered domestic abuse counseling and absolute sobriety.
Read her comments here: 2022CF1257_11-30-2022_PleaSentencing
The defense attorney wanted a stayed jail term and probation. The prosecutor wanted 60 days in jail, which the victim supported, and probation. Dorow gave him double that – four months in jail – as well as two years’ probation.
That means she was twice as hard on Liu as even the prosecutor wanted. The sentencing occurred on November 30, 2022. What did the defendant do? Liu was convicted in Dorow’s court of misdemeanors for punching the victim in the shoulder during a chaotic fight in the family’s home and damaging an iPad and some toy blocks, as well as making threats to kill. He had previously violated a no-contact order. He blamed work stress and was in treatment for it. He also apologized and had zero criminal record, not even so much as a speeding ticket, and support from his employer and counselor.
Furthermore, although the media quoted an Illinois official as saying otherwise, Wisconsin lawyers tell us that allowing a misdemeanor defendant – especially one with no criminal history – a few days to get their affairs in order before reporting to jail in Wisconsin is not only common, it’s the norm.
That point has been entirely lost in the media coverage of the Liu case.
The court records show that Dorow gave Michael Liu two days to report to give him an opportunity to do DNA samples and get his probation set up with the Department of Corrections – also points ignored by the news stories. State law allows judges to give defendants as long as 60 days, but Dorow went way under that. During those two days, Liu, of Brookfield, traveled to Illinois and attacked the victim’s parents, who survived.
We asked Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, a former state Attorney General candidate, about that.
“For a defendant without a prior criminal record convicted of misdemeanors, it would be extremely rare to see a judge deny a defendant an opportunity to report to jail,” Toney said. “Judge Dorow allowing two days is far less than I routinely see in similar cases and is reflective of a tough-on-crime judge.”
The same media that largely refused to tell the public about the release of murderers on parole by Gov. Tony Evers’ appointee are now all over the Liu case, but they’re leaving out or downplaying many key details.
Dorow, a Chief Judge and former prosecutor who presided over the Darrell Brooks’ trial, is running for state Supreme Court. The other candidates are conservative former Justice Dan Kelly and liberals Janet Protasiewicz and Everett Mitchell.
Here are the other key details about the Michael Liu case that the media are largely not telling readers and viewers:
- Liu had no criminal record at all – not even a prior traffic offense.
- He was convicted of misdemeanors.
- The victim supported the prosecutor’s weaker request. Dorow was even tougher than that.
- No one – including the prosecutor and attorney for the victim – asked that Liu be immediately taken to jail.
- Liu was in a treatment program called New Thresholds. A counselor at the program sent the court a letter that said Liu had “demonstrated a high level of commitment to the treatment process and the prognosis is good.”
- Liu, who has a master’s degree, was employed full-time as director of engineering at a corporation, where he supervised 15 employees. Leaders at his job sent a letter supporting him. He blamed work stress but was in counseling to deal specifically with stress.
- Liu showed remorse and apologized at sentencing.
- The above are all factors that judges consider at sentencing. Dorow mentioned that it was important for the defendant to be able to maintain financial stability and employment court records show.