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Taxpayers deserve better frorsr prosecutor
From the Journal Sentinel

December 20, 1997

Biil Cosby used to do a comedy routine based on the premise that a man is undergoing surgery when he
suddenly hears his surgeon say, "Oops."

A legal version of that happened this week in the Waukesha County Courthouse -- but it wasn't very funny.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Van De Water forgot to tell jurors that a man they acquitted of felony
battery in the death of a Pewaukee tavern owner had seven prior misdemeanor convictions.

Had they heard that information, some jurors said, they would not have believed Dale Wiegert's testlmony
that he punched the bar owner in self-defense. But they didn't hear that testimony and, after deadlockrng at
9-3 in favor of the felony conviction, the jury decided to convict Wiegert of misdemeanor battery.

Defense attomey Alan Eisenberg was elated. Wiegert probably felt pretty good, too. The family of the
victim, Lloyd "George" Bourget, is rightfully outraged.

"I'm shocked that this man could get away with taking another man's life," said Bourget's daughter, Ivy.

"The whole system collapsed," said Dave Bourget. "He (Wiegert) took my brother, and that's not right.
He's gone forever."

Naturally, Van De Water tried to duck, She blamed the circuslike atmosphere of the trial for her failure to
ask Wiegert about his past when she had him on the stand. She said she was distracted by an ambulance call
for a juror and by the defense attorney's objections.

She said she felt terrible for the family, but "I don't know what more I could have done."

Well, she could have remembered to do her job. The job taxpayers pay her to do, regardless of how much
noise there is and how many objections are made.

Everyone makes mistakes, but "oops" doesn't cut it in a court of law.

Send a letter to the editor

ffif Gotl F"nd-aF;atr


Sundav Features !r
la

Journal Sentinel Online Inside News


O Copyright 199tt. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. All rights reserved.

http: //www.j sonl ine. com/archive/dec97/news/editorials lT220wateredit.stm Page I of 1


Waukesha
Freeman
pe. 1A

Water
Date 5'9''-?6

Running :

Van De Water for real? Judge for yourself


The big question making the court- buy chicken or pork, how would you re*'
house circuit these days is why is former spond?
Assistant District Attorney Linda Van In that same way, I have a beef with the.
De Water running for attorney general? idea of term limits. Like most Wisconsin
Courthouse and political sources think voters, I want a buffet ofpolitical choic-
they know why. They clairn she has been es, not a limited menu. Term limits are
promised a political plum by the GOP for DENNIS A, like limiting the menu.
taking on the daunting, if not irnpossible, Even worse, term limits are like saying
task of unseating popular Attorney Gen- SHOOK I cant have the steak any time I want to.
eral Jim Doyle (a possible future guber- fire rationale is that too much of the
natorial candidate for the Democrats). same thing can be bad for you, in the diet
That plum, these sources say, would be lng re-electlon and U.S. Rep. Mark Neu- or on the ballot.
the fourth branch circuit courtjudgeship mann, R-Janesville, now running for the The advocates of term limits for every-
now held by Patrick L. Snyder. Snyder Senate against incumbent Democrat one is a Wisconsin-based group known as
apparently plans to resign next year, Russ Feingold the Americans for Term Limits. The
leaving some of his term unexpired. Gov. And state GOP Chairman David Opitz name is almost comic - denying me my
TommyThompson would appoint a re said Thursday that Van De Water will be choice ofa candidate for arbitrary rea-
placement. And while Thompson has ap assured of being able to match whatever sons is as un-American as you can get.
pointed many Dems, it ts likely a loyal Doyle spends. (Last election he spent the polls are the best term limit there
Republican would get the nod. Who $500,000), is, state Sen. Joseph Andrea, D-Kenosha,
would be considered more loyal than So maybe it is not such a bad idea for used to say. He was right.
someone tilting at Doyie? Van De Water ln a personal sense. But it When we are sick of the rascals, weLl ,
Iocal legal community members are will take a lot more than money and elec- toss them out on Election Day. But to
nervous about the possibility ofa Judge tion coincidence to defeat Doyle. have some would-be do-gooders limit ou!
Van De Water. They point out that she Van De Water said she did not decide to choices is just plain wrong. .
resigned not long after making a major run until her former boss, District Attor- The group has raised $10 million to ad-'
mistake in one of her last prosecutorial ney Paul Bucher, fust announced he vertise for term limits in this and other''
efforts. might run and then reconsidered. states. That, of course, is their right ...
Ajury decided to convict a defendant of Maybe Van De Water should ask herself unless some group forms that is sick of '-
a misdemeanor battery rather than a why Bucher reconsidered and whether their efforts and wants to limit how :'r
more serious felony charge in a case she she would be able to fare much better many tlmes they can express their view.'
was prosecuting. Jurors later said had against Doyle. We don't need a group to decide what i5:
they known the defendant had a criminal Van De Water instead seems deter. best for Wisconsin voters. Well make
r-
record, they would have convlcted h1m of mined to talk about how much time she those decisions ourselves, thank you.
the felony. Van De Water forgot to ask will spend on criminal law and not pur-
the defendant if he had a criminal sue the Microsoft case. When all is said .Quote of the Week Waukesha
record. and done, that might not compute. County Supervisor Daniel Meissner, de
At her announcement Thursday in the crying the tough life farming has be
courthouse lobby, Van De Water said Ballot box is come: "It's getting so bad that if I leave
that was one mistake in nearly 3,000 cas- best term limit the farm to my children, I could be
es she has tried. But that is not the way charged with child abuse."
her peers see it. If you went to the grocery store looking
She is running at an opportune tine, for steak but the butcher said you have @ennis A. Shook is The Freeman's gou-
with both Gov. Tommy Thompson seek- had too much beef lately and could only ernmpntreporter-)

3
676F,. Summit Ave.
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
March 16, 1998

Governor Tommy G. Thompson


P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707

Dear Governor Thompson:

We need your help in a situation that has resulted in a great miscarriage of justice. Based on the
details I have outlined below and the enclosed supporting articles from the Milwaukee
Journal/Sentinel, we ask that you specifically:
' Not appoint Ms. Linda Van de Water to any judicial position in the near future, and
' Before the sentencing occurs on March 27th, intervene on behalf of the community to allow
the maximum sentence plus NO PAROLE.

The subject is the gross mishandling of the trial "The State vs. Dale Wiegert" case #97-CF-883.
The case deals with the death of L. "George" Bourget (Dave's brother and Ivy's father) at the
hands of Mr. wiegert. very briefly, the details of the murder are as follows:
' About 1 1:05 pm, October lJ , I99J , two patrons in Dupy's bar in Pewaukee became unruly.
George, who owned the bar, asked them to leave. One of the two, Dale Wiegert, resisted and
was verbally abusive. At the door he turned, went into a "fighter's stance" and hit George twice:
once in the face and once in the chest. George went down instantly and died within seconds.

During the trial held in December, Waukesha County Asst. DA Linda Van de Water spent 4
hours arguing which of Mr. Wiegert's 88+ contacts with the police could be admitted into evi-
dence. After agreeing on 7 criminal convictions, she unbelievably for-got to question Mr.
Wiegert on any of them. The jury never found out this man had a criminai history. This critical
omission obviously led to a greatly reduced charge and, we believe a great injustice. This
injustice is not only to the immediate family, but the- community as a whole.
-
But this is not the only incident in which we feel Ms. Van de'Water was remiss and we would
like you to be aware of the others.

' On Friday, after 2 days of testimony by 9 witnesses and the Medicai Examiner, Ivy Bourget
asked Ms. Van de Water when she was going to get around to showing her dad's (George
Bourget) picture. Ms. Van de Water's response was, "Oh, I forgot all about that." As a result, all
the witnesses, along with the jury, were not able to identify George and see that he was not the
huge, menacing bully of a man that Mr. Eisenberg painted him to be.

' When Ms. Van de Water finally did bring the picture into evidence during questioning of Mr.
Wiegerl, she again made a grave error. After finally getting Mr. Wiegert to identify the man in
the picture as George Bourget, she was going to sit down. Judge Wimmer had to prompt her to
ask the question if that was a reasonable representation of George Bourget on the night in ques-
tion. After she asked the question, Mr. Wiegert gave a long and rambling answer with no clear
yes or no implied. She was about to accept that when Judge Wimmer suggested that perhaps Mr.
Wiegert should answer again. Ms. Van de Water actually countermanded the judge and said she
felt he had answered sufficiently and even repeated his answer. The judge then said that based
on how Dale had phrased his answer, he (the judge) would have to deny her request to show the
picture to the jury. Again, key evidence withheld from the jury.

. The jury never had a chance to know Dale Wiegert's blood alcohol level. Ms. Van de Water
and Mr. Eisenberg argued that point on Friday morning. When the questioning got hot over
Dave the detective's handling of acquiring the blood, Ms. Van de Water backed down and with-
drew her motion of discovery. Since his alcohol level was .09, we feel that this was also key
evidence that the jury should have known.

. We feel that Ms. Van de Water should have questioned Mr. Wiegert much further on his mili-
tary training. She asked a few questions, but did not push him any further when he responded
with "I basically learned how to fold clothes." Obviously, our Navy must teach some sort of
fighting in basic training and that should have been explored.

. Ms. Van de Water rarely objected to anything during Mr. Wiegert's testimony. He was allowed
numerous statements that were speculative and hearsay, such as "she held the stool up as if to hit
me." Mr. Eisenberg was constantly having remarks such as these stuck from the record, but Ms.
Van de Water left them in.

We feel the system let us down in not protecting our rights. We were provided victim's assis-
tance, yes, but when we most needed them... no one was around. We noticed at least 10 minutes
before Ms. Van de Water rested her case, that she had not yet brought up Mr. Wiegert's record.
We wanted to get a note to her to remind her of this (though that should not be our job!) and
there was not one person there who could do that for us at that time.

We were not able to bring this to Ms. Van de Water's attention until she had rested her case and
the jury was dismissed. She immediately made a motion to reopen testimony and this is where
Judge Wimmer let us down. He would not do it! Even though the jury was still in the jury
room, final arguments had not been given, and the jury had not yet been instructed.

This is preposterous! He knowingly let a jury go into deliberation without all the facts facts
-
that would definitely have made an impact on the question of intent. This was confirmed by the
jury members later, who all said that had they known of Mr. Wiegert's record. they would have
declared him -suilty of the higher charge.

We are very much angered by the entire situation. Not only are we victims of Dale Wiegert's,
but now victims of the judicial system.

But this has now become not only a victimization of our family, but of the entire community.
The state has an obligation to protect the community from people like Mr. Wiegerl. They have
an obligation to present all the evidence to attain that objective. This could have been done.
This would not have involved retrying the entire case, but only reopening it to correct a mistake
a mistake that should not have been made in the first place.
-
Final verdict: a simple misdemeanor battery charge instead of felony aggravated battery.

Here's where the community really gets victimized:


. We can't appeal the case. Only the defendant is allowed that right.
'We can't retry based on incompetent counsel. Again, only the defendant has that right.
'Thischargecarriesamaximumsentenceof 6yrs.insteadof theoriginal 18yrs.,of which
only a quarter must be served.
'We have over 1200 signatures on a petition for no parole. The DA s office tells us you
can't do that for a misdemeanor. onlv a felonv. Well. who's fault is that?

Yet
-
' The state of Wisconsin is in the process of passing a law of no parole for any crime. But
because this incident occurred before the law goes into effect, we aren't eligible.
' We'd like the judge to completely
overrule the verdict
-
again, they say it can't be done.
But didn't the judge ovemrle the jury in the Nanny case?

As you can see, we lose no matter which way we turn. Is this justice?

Last week, the DA s office released a 300-page report that outlines only 20 of Mr. Wiegert's
many offenses, which include beating up his own mother and sister, threatening to kill his boss
and boss's wife, and impersonating an officer. This man is an obvious danger to society and has
killed a person, yet in 2 weeks he may be getting the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

We feel the only way to rectify this situation and bring some form of justice back to the people,
is to insist on a maximum sentence with NO PAROLE. This way, the community will be
assured that Mr. Wiegert spends the amount of time in jail that he would have if he had received
the correct charge.

Gov. Thompson, please help us by allowing no parole in this matter.

Sincerelv.

Dave and Geri Bourget


Ivy Bourget Bednar and John Bednar

cc: Atty. General James E. Doyle


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MILWAUKEE
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NEWS
Jurors say prosecutor made error

tsy Lisa Sink


of the Journal Sentinel staff

Decemtrer 18. 1997

Waukesha -- Jurors blamed a prosecutor Wednesday for not telling them that a man whom they acquitted of
felony battery in the death of a Pewaukee tavern owner had seven prior misdemeanor convictibns.

Had_they heard that information, some jurors said, they would not have believed Dale Wiegert's testimony
that he punched the bar owner in self-defense and would have convicted him of the more serious charge.

Instead, the jury agreed to break a 9-3 deadlock on felony battery charges and convict Wiegert of
misdemeanor battery for punching Lloyd "George" Bouiget, owner of Dupy's Tap in the Town of
Pewaukee.

They also convicted him of a second misdemeanor battery for punching another bar patron but acquitted him
of a third misdemeanor battery charge fbr allegedly hitting a wbman with a bar stool.

The verdicts cut the maximum possible prison time Wiegert can face at sentencing from 18 years to six.

Bourget's relatives, who were upset that Wiegert was not charged originally with homicide, were stunned
by the verdict, which came justbefore midnight Tuesday. Mosl wereioo distraught to talk.

But one relative said the family wanted to talk to District Attorney Paul Bucher about their concerns with the
state's presentation by Assistant District Attorney Linda van De water.

"I just don't think


rye got a fair shake," said a relative who asked not to be named. He said the family might
speak publicly at a bail hearing set for today to determine whether Wiegert should be freed from jail untii
his sentencing.

"I think there were too many things omitted," the man said. "It's just upsetting."

A Town of Pewaukee police lieutenant who helped investigate Bourget's death did not crrticize the district
attorney's office or Van De Water.

But Lt. Gary Bach said: "'We're extremely disappointed out here. It's an absolute joke."

Bach noted that Wiegert, 31, of West Allis, has had dozens of contacts with police departments in various
cities.

Van De Water acknowledged that she forgot to question Wiegert about his criminal convictions when he
took the stand Friday afternoon.
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rtled 3ll5l98 11:04 PM

She said she bec'ame distracted by the circus-like atmosphere of the trial that day. Wiegert's testimony was
intemrpted when an ambulance was called to aid an ailing juror, who recovered and remained on the panel.

"I obviously would have done it earlier if we didn't have the ambulance being called for 911, sidebar
interruptions and repeated objections (by Wiegert's attorney Alan Eisenberg)," Van De Water said.

After Wiegert finished testifying, the defense rested its case and jurors were sent home to return Tuesday
morning for the attorneys' closing arguments.

Van De Water said that about four minutes after the jurors were sent home on Friday, she realized she had
not asked about the convictions. She asked Judge Joseph Wimmer to reopen the case but he would not.

"I don't know what more I could have done," she said. "I think it's something the jury should have heard.
I feel tenible for the family."

She said she was "very disappointed" with the verdict and argued that there was no evidence that Wiegert
couid have been acting in self-defense, regardless of his credibility.

But jurors said credibility was key.

One of the three jurors who held out against a felony charge said he could not sleep after the judge told
jurors that Wiegert had a criminal history.

"I'm upset," said the man who asked not to be identified. "The state had the opportunity but made the
mistake. They messed up."

Juanita Michlig, who also supported Wiegert's acquittal. said: "He (Wiegert) looked like your all-American
kid. To find out after the verdict that, oops, she forgot. . . . I think had we known that as a jury, our
verdict would have been different."

Michael Besta, the juror who was aided by ambulance after suffering an anxiety attack, said he was one of
many who pushed for the felony charge.

He said he and others didn't know whether they should maintain a deadlock on all charges and declare a
hung jury and a mistrial. Instead, they compromised on the misdemeanor charge.

"It's irresponsibility," Besta said of the lack of evidence on Wiegert's criminal record. "I hope he gets the
maximum."

Eisenberg said he was "ecstatic" over the verdict.

He accused Van De Water of committing a "fatal error" but argued that Wiegert's record consisted of
"Mickey Nlouse misdemeanors. "

"My client is truly very sad that this man died," Eisenberg said. "But he is very happy that he has been
cleared of his death."

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