Wisconsin governor dismissed after serving on jury

Jan 8, 2014, 11:01 PM

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker served two days as Juror No. 20 on a personal-injury case, but he was dismissed just before deliberations began Wednesday because the CEO of a company involved in the case had donated to his campaign.

Walker was one of 13 men selected Tuesday to hear the Milwaukee County case. It involved a woman who said she was injured when another driver rear-ended her vehicle in 2009. The defendants included Secura Insurance, an Appleton-based insurer.

Walker said he discovered Monday that he’d received $2,000 in campaign donations from Secura CEO John Bykowski between 2009 and 2011. He alerted the judge of that through law enforcement officials, he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The revelation in court Tuesday didn’t change anything right away. Attorneys for both sides said they were confident Walker could remain fair and impartial.

The trial got underway with all 13 jurors hearing testimony, even though only 12 participate in deliberations. After closing arguments are over, one juror is generally selected at random and designated an alternate and dismissed. The purpose is to have an extra juror in case one needs to be dismissed for illness or other reason.

When it came time to select a juror for dismissal Wednesday, both parties decided to choose Walker, agreeing it would be the most prudent course of action.

Emily Davey, who represented the plaintiffs, and Peter Mullaney, a lawyer for Secura, both told AP they were confident the governor could have done his job impartially. But they said dismissing him would remove any sense of unseemliness.

“Given the media coverage after he was selected as a juror I was just concerned there could be an appearance of impropriety,” Davey said.

She also said Judge Kevin Martens did a good job of screening jurors from the outset, asking whether they knew other jurors in the pool and whether they’d have trouble negotiating with them.

Both attorneys said they were surprised Walker was even a member of the jury pool.

“You don’t expect to just run into the governor,” Mullaney said.

When a jury is being selected, either attorney has the right to strike out, without explanation, the names of some potential jurors. Davey and Mullaney said they saw no reason to dismiss Walker at the outset.

The remaining 12 jurors awarded about $22,500 to the plaintiffs, Carri and Michael Natarelli. As Michael Natarelli left the courtroom he said it was “interesting” to have had the most powerful man in Wisconsin listening in on their case. He and Carri Natarelli declined to comment further.

While it’s not common for a sitting governor to get called for jury duty, it has happened. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California was called for jury duty in 2007 but he wasn’t picked for a case.

In 2005, President George Bush was called to serve jury duty in McLennan County, Texas, but he was granted a postponement after citing “other commitments.” That same year, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was picked for a jury on a civil case involving a car crash.

Other celebrities including Olympian Michael Phelps, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and actors Tom Hanks and Charlie Sheen have also been called for jury duty. However, celebrity jurors aren’t often selected because lawyers often want to avoid the distractions from the media or elsewhere.

Walker said he enjoyed the jury experience and hoped his example would serve as an incentive for others to serve when their names are picked.

“It was very interesting sitting all that time on a jury, seeing what they have to go through,” Walker said. “… Hopefully it goes to show people across the state it’s completely random and that nobody should consider themselves too busy to be picked for jury duty.”


Associated Press reporter Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., and AP researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.


Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

This undated photo provided by Merced County Sheriff's Office shows Jasleen Kaur, left, and Jasdeep...
Associated Press

‘Our worst fears’: Kidnapped baby, parents, uncle found dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A baby girl, her parents and uncle were found dead in a central California orchard two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business, police said. “Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference. Warnke did not release any […]
24 hours ago
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and Sou...
Associated Press

Asian stocks mixed on strong US hiring, OPEC oil output cuts

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Thursday after strong U.S. hiring dampened hopes the Federal Reserve might ease off plans for interest rate hikes and the OPEC group of oil exporters agreed to output cuts to shore up prices. Tokyo and Seoul advanced while Hong Kong and Sydney declined. Chinese markets were closed for […]
24 hours ago
FILE - The exterior of Phoenix College, part of the Maricopa County Community College system, is se...
Associated Press

Arizona weighing in-state tuition rate for some non-citizens

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters this November will decide whether to allow students regardless of their immigration status to obtain financial aid and cheaper in-state tuition at state universities and community colleges. At least 18 states, including California and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia now offer in-state tuition to all students who […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the Old Bailey in London on July 14, 2022. Spacey heads to cou...
Associated Press

Kevin Spacey faces civil trial on sexual assault claims

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Spacey heads to court Thursday to defend himself in a lawsuit filed by Anthony Rapp, the actor who in 2017 made the first in a string of sexual misconduct allegations that left the “House of Cards” star’s theater and filmmaking career in tatters. The trial, expected to last less than […]
24 hours ago
Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages tr...
Associated Press

Closing arguments set in Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook trial

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut jury is expected to hear closing arguments Thursday in a trial to determine how much Infowars host Alex Jones should pay for persuading his audience that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax perpetrated to impose more gun control laws. The six-person jury could begin […]
24 hours ago
FILE - The recently closed Savannah Medical Clinic, which provided abortions for four decades in Sa...
Associated Press

At least 66 US clinics have halted abortions, institute says

At least 66 clinics in 15 states have stopped providing abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to an analysis released Thursday. The number of clinics providing abortions in the 15 states dropped from 79 before the June 24 decision to 13 as of Oct. 2, according to the Guttmacher Institute, […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Wisconsin governor dismissed after serving on jury