MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told 27 News all alleged, minor violations in the state capitol and on its grounds will be prosecuted by the state Department of Justice, instead of being submitted to him.
Ozanne said he met with DOJ officials and state Capitol Police Chief David Erwin Wednesday and was informed of the change in the handling of the forfeiture cases. Along with enforcement by the Wisconsin State Patrol officers and Dane County Sheriff's deputies, arrests by State Capitol Police officers were previously submitted for review and potential prosecution to Ozanne.
Ozanne told 27 News the change in the destination of cases developed by state capitol police was at the request of the Department of Administration. DOA officials have yet to return calls seeking comment.
"State statutes permit Capitol Police to refer forfeitures of this nature to DOJ for prosecution, and we will work cooperatively with our law enforcement partners to enforce the law," DOJ spokesperson Dana Brueck said.
Ozanne said state capitol police reports on potential criminal offenses will be shared with him for his potential prosecution.
Since Governor Walker's introduction of limits to public union collective bargaining in the winter of 2011, dozens of protesters have been arrested and received citations, for refusing to leave the capitol building, holding signs in prohibited areas and other conduct.
Ozanne said some of the cases submitted to him have been dismissed for lack of merit, but said there have been successful prosecutions. Cases handled by Madison police officers have been handled by Madison's city attorney. One frequent protester, Jeremy Ryan, told 27 News three dozen citations against him have been dismissed. Ryan has a current civil forfeiture case being prosecuted by an assistant attorney general.
Ryan has said the use of Justice Department lawyers is a more costly option for the state, unnecessary, and an apparent attempt to suppress protest activity, which includes a protest sing-a-long every week day.
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