MADISON (WKOW) -- A judge who was appointed to the bench by former Governor Jim Doyle dismissed a drunk driving case against Doyle's son, finding that police officers did not have probable cause to arrest the younger Doyle.
Judge Nicholas McNamara made his decision in connection to Gus Doyle's arrest December 7, 2011 in Fitchburg.
Police reports show an officer observed Doyle weaving just after midnight, and after more than one attempt to have Doyle pull over, Doyle's car pulled over on Fish Hatchery Road. The reports state the officer and a responding sergeant both detected the odor of alcohol around Doyle, although he denied drinking. Reports and a squad car video show Doyle was arrested after telling an officer he was "uncomfortable" with the officer's request to submit to field sobriety tests. Doyle later also refused to submit to a blood or other chemical test for the presence of alcohol.
Doyle has a 2006 drunk driving conviction. His alleged repeat drunk driving case was handled by special prosecutor, Green County District Attorney Gary Luhman, at the request of Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. Ozanne was appointed district attorney by former Governor Doyle.
Luhman told 27 News he did not ask McNamara to recuse himself from the case, despite McNamara's appointment to his position by Doyle. Luhman says he consulted with Fitchburg police officials before declining to seek another judge.
On August 15, McNamara ruled officers did not have probable cause to arrest Doyle. McNamara's court order does not specify the rationale for his decision. McNamara has yet to return a call from 27 News seeking comment.
Luhman told 27 News during a three hour court hearing, McNamara said Doyle's reported refusal to submit to sobriety tests was unclear, and said Doyle should have been given more of an opportunity to respond to the request.
Fitchburg Police Lieutenant Chad Brecklin says the officers involved in Doyle's traffic stop and arrest acted appropriately. Brecklin says McNamara's decision represents the first time in Brecklin's 17 year police career he has seen a drunk driving case dismissed over ambiguity on a driver's response to a request for testing.
But, Doyle's attorney, Lester Pines told 27 News McNamara's dismissal was appropriate. Pines says the responding officer had insufficient probable cause to stop Doyle. Pines says Doyle's stop by police was a classic case of a motorist being stopped for "driving while black."
Gus Doyle is African American. Pines says the arresting officer began following Doyle after observing Doyle passing by in an opposite direction, and before any of the officer's observations of potentially erratic driving.
McNamara was appointed by then-Governor Doyle in 2009, and successfully stood for election in 2010.
Dane County Chief Judge William Foust told 27 News McNamara had no reason to try to curry favor with Doyle through any leniency for Doyle's son, with the former governor out of office and McNamara three years removed from his appointment.
Earlier this year, Dane County Judge David Flanagan presided over a court challenge against Governor Walker and others over the constitutionality of Wisconsin's Voter Identification law, even though Flanagan had signed a petition to recall Walker.
Flanagan did not disclose his petition-signing to the parties in the court case. Luhman says McNamara noted on the record of the Gus Doyle case, his appointment to the bench by Doyle's father.
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