The future of Walworth County’s treatment courts is uncertain after District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld at a special meeting Tuesday questioned his office’s participation in the programs and its level of control over who enters them.
Most questions from Tuesday’s meeting went to Wiedenfeld. Although treatment courts would not necessarily cease to exist without the participation of the district attorney’s office, some committee members, including Judge Phillip Koss, signaled they would not support programs without it.
Wiedenfeld said he is “concerned” with a treatment-court structure that does not give his office authority to limit who gets into the programs. He said he did not know if he wanted to be involved with a program where it’s up to the judges.
The judge who oversees drug court, Daniel Johnson, said “I don’t think it’s fair to essentially accuse the judges of willy-nilly sending people into these programs whenever we feel like it without a rhyme or a reason to it.”
Judge David Reddy, who is the project director for the county’s treatment courts, said only two of the 69 entries into drug court were against the recommendation of the DA’s office.
Wiedenfeld said it’s his philosophy to be proactive and address small problems before they’re big.
(It’s telling, really, that Koss, a former prosecutor with a controversial record, would defer to the prosecutorial power rather than of his own judicial office.)
Wiedenfeld speaks of his philosophy (‘to be proactive’) and in support of public safety as though no one on the bench might have those same goals; he presumes his own statutorily-limited role as a prosecutor should include a veto even over the judicial authority in his county.
Too funny, also, that Wiedenfeld thinks threatening to take his marbles and walk away from a successful program is what it means to be proactive.
No, and no again: it’s what it means to undermine a program that’s worked effectively since 2014, with scores of positive outcomes at a significant cost saving to the community.