Dan O’Donnell calls for action against a despicable Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge who violated ethical rules and abused his authority to recommend charges against an innocent police officer.
July 30, 2021
Guest Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
One of the gravest miscarriages of justice in Wisconsin’s history happened in a Milwaukee County courtroom this week, and the state barely batted an eye. Worse, the very mob shrieking for a year about injustice crammed into that courtroom and cheered as, in their eyes, the right man was finally lynched.
Five years after four separate and independent investigations cleared former Wauwatosa Police officer Joseph Mensah of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Jay Anderson, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Glenn Yamahiro ruled that there was probable cause to charge Mensah with homicide by reckless use of a firearm.
Mensah, who is now a Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputy, shot and killed a drunk and high Anderson in 2016 as Anderson reached for a handgun on the passenger seat of his car. The Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, and the Obama Administration Justice Department all investigated the shooting and found that Mensah was justified in using deadly force.
Five years later, a woke Glenn Yamahiro begs to differ and, fittingly, had to pause several times while making this announcement as the mob gathered in his courtroom screamed, clapped, and began chanting “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
The mob finally got what it wanted, and Glenn Yamahiro will forever be remembered as the spineless, corrupt hack who let it happen. One might say his whole damn system of mob justice is guilty as hell.
Yamahiro, appointed to the bench by Democrat Governor Jim Doyle in 2003, ignored a massive conflict of interest to employ the almost-never-used John Doe process to recommend charges against Mensah. Because of this, Mensah was not allowed to present evidence in his own defense—or even respond to the allegations against him—in Yamahiro’s kangaroo court.
And it just so happened that one of the attorneys making those allegations was the mother of Glenn Yamahiro’s child. Deja Vishny, Yamahiro’s ex-wife, works for Anderson family attorney Kimberley Motley’s law firm and has been intimately involved in the case since Motley first requested a John Doe investigation.
“Best partner EVER!” Motley gushed in a Facebook post after Vishny hysterically attacked Mensah and the Wauwatosa Police Department during a disastrous City Council meeting last summer.
“I love working with you!” Vishny commented back.
Last October, Motley acknowledged that Vishny was doing work on behalf of the family of Alvin Cole—a teenager shot and killed by Mensah while brandishing a gun during a brawl at Mayfair Mall earlier that year.
“We won in Court!!!” Motley wrote. “I plan to get Taleavia Cole’s phone back TODAY…Great job to Deja Vishny!”
Vishny made her thoughts about Mensah perfectly clear a month later, tweeting “Joseph Mensah must never be a cop again, anywhere. #justiceforjayanderson #justiceforalvincole #justiceforantoniogonzalez”
Vishny has been intimately involved in the Jay Anderson case and has obviously been working on it with Motley, yet Yamahiro did not recuse himself from the case as the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct clearly required him.
SCR 60.01(4) provides that “a judge shall recuse himself or herself in a proceeding when” the “judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person within the third degree of kinship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person” is “acting as a lawyer in the proceeding” or “is known by the judge to have a more than [a minimal] interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding.”
Not only was Vishny an attorney performing work for Motley on the Anderson case before Yamahiro, but her own social media postings indicate that she also has a substantial interest in the outcome of any judicial proceeding against Joseph Mensah.
Although they are no longer married, Yamahiro and Vishny maintain a relationship that precludes Yamahiro from impartially deciding a matter in which Vishny has such an obviously vested interest. The Code of Judicial Conduct would thus instruct him to recuse himself from the case or, if he refused, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Chief Judge Mary Triggiano should have replaced him.
Given the Kafkaesque nature of a John Doe procedure in which the accused may not present evidence in his own defense, Yamahiro was allowed to decide whether Mensah should face charges based solely on evidence the mother of his child presented.
Try to imagine the hysterical rage if the mother of Joseph Mensah’s children was tasked with deciding whether he should be criminally charged. Strangely, though, the whole damn system isn’t guilty as hell when it’s stacked against a police officer that the mob wants taken down.
Amazingly, Yamahiro now gets to decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor to actually bring charges against Mensah. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has indicated that it will not file charges since, remember, it already reviewed the case five years ago and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Yamahiro has several months to decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor and, if he does, he will rather obviously run afoul of state law. Wisconsin Statute 978.045 only allows for the appointment of a special prosecutor if there is no district attorney in a given county or the district attorney is somehow unable to fulfill his or her duties.
It’s not as if Glenn Yamahiro, lynch mob judge, cares much about the law or the system of actual justice he took an oath to uphold, but if he were to appoint a special prosecutor (maybe his ex-wife could do it!), this would be immediately appealed to a court in which an angry mob wouldn’t have quite as much say.
It is a stretch to even call Glenn Yamahiro’s gallows “a court” in the sense of the phrase to which America has grown accustomed. His close family members get to bring arguments before him but the accused does not. He gets to effectively overturn the results of four separate investigations without a single new piece of evidence ever presented. He gets to placate the mob gathered to watch an innocent man hang.
This is Glenn Yamahiro’s idea of justice. This is apparently what passes for justice in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Fortunately, there is a remedy for it. If the people of Wisconsin decide that this is not what they want justice to be, they have several options for removing Glenn Yamahiro from office, all of which are both justified and strongly encouraged.
First, a citizen may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission (which can be done here). The Commission then investigates and makes a recommendation to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which can then remove the judge with a majority vote.
Second, a judge may be impeached by a majority vote of the State Assembly and convicted with a two-thirds vote of the State Senate.
Third, a judge can be removed by address of both the Assembly and Senate and a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
Fourth, a judge can be removed through a recall election.
Since the most famous John Doe investigations in Wisconsin history precipitated and then stemmed from the recall election of Governor Scott Walker, there would be some poetic justice in launching a recall election against Yamahiro for his gross abuse of the John Doe process.
And there would be some sense of a return to the Rule of Law by using a democratic process like a recall election to remove from office a despicable petty tyrant who apparently prefers mob rule.
Don’t let the mob win, Wisconsin. Stand up for real justice and stand up against a man who is standing in its way. Show petty tyrants that the mob has no power here.
Launch a recall of Glenn Yamahiro now.
Opinions expressed in this column are of the author.