Welcome To Wisconsin's Juvenile Injustice System
On March 28, 2008, 15 year-old Dominique Gulley stole a car from a residential treatment center for juveniles in Stoughton. He then led authorities on a chase at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour through Dane County. Gulley was ultimately apprehended around Johnson Creek in Jefferson County after the car he was driving was disabled by "stop sticks" placed in the road.
Early in the chase, Dale Veto, a 16-year veteran of the Dane County Sheriff's Department was laying "stop sticks" on Highway 151 near Sun Prarie. In an effort to avoid the spike strip, Gulley swerved and drove into Deputy Veto. After striking Veto, Gulley continued to flee authorities at high rates of speed.
As a result of the impact, Deputy Veto currently remains confined to a wheelchair. He has already had multiple surgeries with at least one more to come. While he hopes to eventually resume his career in law enforcement, that is very much up in the air.
On April 30, Dominique Gulley appeared before Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert and, pursuant to a plea agreement, was found guilty of various juvenile and adult charges. The adult charge, 1st Degree Reckless Injury, carried a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
With the blessing of the Dane County District Attorney's Office, Judge Ebert sentenced Gulley to spend the next two years at a juvenile correctional facility. He also sentenced Gulley to 12 years in prison as an adult. However, Ebert then immediately suspended the adult portion of the sentence and put Gulley on probation.
Let's put this in perspective. The punk steals a car from a residential treatment facility (I don't know if he was committed there or not) and leads authorities on a high speed chase that goes on for miles. For good measure, Gulley intentionally drives into a law enforcement officer and perhaps cripples him for life.
For all this, Gulley gets 2 years at a boy's home to be followed by probation!
Judge Ebert (pictured below), a former prosecutor, has hit a bit of a judicial rough patch lately. He's the judge who was recently reversed in both the Scott Jensen prosecution and the Menasha Corporation sales tax case. Since sentences in criminal cases aren't appealable (as a general rule) , Judge Ebert doesn't have to worry about being reversed again. That said, has he lost his mind?
While we're on the subject, has everyone in the Dane County court system lost their minds?
In arguing for this ridiculous sentence, the Assistant DA who handled the case said that he wanted to see Gulley "get needed psychological and educational help". That's really sweet - but how about some punishment? How about some consequences? How about some justice?
The Dane County Deputy Sheriff's Association has started a fund to help assist Deputy Veto in his recovery. Hopefully, he'll receive more support from the general public than he received from Judge Ebert and the Dane County District Attorney's Office.
I'm frequently asked what can be done about matters like this. In response, I tell people to remember that judges and prosecutors in Wisconsin are elected. When the general public finally has enough of elected officials who practice "hug-a-thug", things will change. Until then, expect the same old, same old.