Legal Ethics

As Gov Leans on Wis. DA in Sext Case, AG Says Lawyer Discipline Group Didn't Do Its Job

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Updated: The governor of Wisconsin promised in a press conference earlier this week to seek the removal of a controversial district attorney accused of harassing two women and asking a third to attend an autopsy on a date, as soon as a citizen made the prerequisite complaint.

Now multiple citizens have stepped up to the plate, but none of the complaints is in the proper form, Gov. Jim Doyle said in a press conference. However, his office is working with the complainants to revise the complaints so that they are adequate to initiate a removal proceeding against Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin attorney general is among those criticizing the state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation for not taking action to discipline Kratz after he admittedly sent multiple text messages to a domestic abuse victim seeking a sexual relationship while overseeing the prosecution of her ex-boyfriend.

While his office found no criminal activity to prosecute concerning Kratz’ conduct in office, the OLR—which did consider the matter but found no legal ethics violation—should have disciplined the DA and protected the public, AG J. B. Van Hollen tells the Fond du Lac Reporter.

“Do you deprive him of his livelihood forever? I don’t know, depending what [the] investigation turns out, whether it’s justified,” Van Hollen said, when asked whether he thinks the OLR should have suspended the DA’s law license, even permanently. However, “I don’t know how you treat a victim like this and expect to continue to go on with your job as district attorney.”

Kratz, who is receiving in-patient psychotherapy to address the situation, hopes to return to his job afterward, reports the Post-Crescent.

He has made a request for medical leave and, under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, the state is required to give him two weeks off annually for any serious health condition and restore the employee to the same job or an equivalent job when he or she returns to work, the newspaper explains.

Qualifying health conditions include, the article says, “a disabling physical or mental illness, injury, impairment or condition requiring continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.”

Related coverage: “Law Student Says Embattled DA Texted Her, Too; He Denies Seeking Autopsy Date with Another Accuser” “Tenn. Prosecutor Resigns, N.Y. Judge Loses License Over Relationship With Defendant”

Post-Crescent: “Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle calls Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz’s efforts to win pardon for woman an infringement on the governor’s powers”

Wisconsin Public Radio: “Wis. Democrats accuse AG of covering up DA’s alleged sexual harassment”

Last updated at 3:24 p.m. to link to additional coverage.

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