I read with interest a recent letter in the Star Journal headlined “With Bloom, its quantity and quality” (Viewpoint, March 25). The authors make significant statements regarding the quality of both candidates for the Oneida County Judgeship, John O’Melia who is in private practice and Michael Bloom, our current district attorney. It is important to note that one of the authors of the letter is District Attorney Michael Bloom’s former supervisor at the Wisconsin Public Defender’s office, Anne Munninghoff.
I take issue with some of the factual representations put forth. The letter suggests that in 2011 there were 7,026 court cases filed in Oneida County, of which “only 578 were civil in nature” which implies that Mr. Bloom had responsibility for 6,448 cases filed last year. According to data from the Oneida County Clerk of Court’s office, there were actually 8,274 court cases filed, but only 1,080 were actually criminal cases, that is, cases in which a misdemeanor, felony or criminal traffic offenses were alleged. There were 347 family law or paternity cases filed, 1,158 civil forfeiture cases, 1,309 small claims cases, and 3,802 traffic cases, most of which are considered civil forfeiture in nature and not handled by the district attorney.
Traffic cases are prosecuted by the jurisdiction in which the citation is issued, that is, by the City of Rhinelander, or one of the towns in the county which handles its own traffic cases. Only those citations issued by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department deputies, or the Wisconsin State Patrol troopers working in Oneida County, are handled by the District Attorney’s office, and only a very small number of any of those cases ever move beyond initial intake where “no contest” pleas are often entered. The letter, while implying that it is Mr. Bloom who handles these cases, ignores that he has two assistants who carry significant case loads themselves.
It is implied in the letter that because our former (and current) Judges Kinney, Mangerson and Patrick O’Melia were district attorneys, they were better judges. They were and are excellent judges because of their personalities, their ability to ferret out truth from innuendo, their compassion for the circumstances of a case and the parties, their abilities to separate themselves from an attitude of “if charges are filed there must be guilt” to “examine the facts and reach an independent and unbiased conclusion” and their understanding of the law.
This election is not about one candidate being good and the other not. It’s about selecting the person who will best serve the interests of Oneida County justice as a whole. I urge you to consider these factors on April 3.
John Danner, Rhinelander