District Attorney rejects combat vet's leniency bid - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

District Attorney rejects combat vet's leniency bid

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Grant County's district attorney rejected a decorated, combat veteran's bid for leniency, as he tries to have a ten year old felony conviction reduced or removed, to pave the way to a law enforcement career.

33-year old Eric Pizer of Madison was convicted in 2004 of felony, substantial battery, after landing one punch and breaking the nose of a Boscobel man in a bar-time scuffle.  Pizer has no other criminal record, and was deployed two times to the Middle East in connection with the Iraq War, and served with official distinction.

During an appearance at Madison College Monday, Governor Walker reiterated a previous stance that he will issue no pardons of criminal convictions, citing past instances of other executives using the pardon power in arbitrary fashion. Walker also said the issuance of pardons undermines criminal justice decisions.

But Walker said Pizer has an option. "Go back and appeal to the system," Walker said. "They could still go back and make an appeal through the courts and the district attorney in that particular case."

But Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker cites to 27 News a Wisconsin appeals court decision, State v. Dawson, which holds reopening and amending plea bargain agreements is illegal.

Riniker acknowledges some district attorneys have participated in such amendments, despite the appellate court ruling.

In a letter to a prosecutor in the Grant County District Attorney's office, Rock County Judge James Daley urged consideration of leniency for Pizer, arguing veterans returning from wars can suffer from conditions that contribute to violence, and cited a past amendment to a conviction by the Dane County District Attorney's office.

"I am aware that some jurisdictions will ignore Dawson," Riniker tells 27 News. "My job is to apply the law, not ignore it."

Pizer says despite these setbacks, he's still hopeful he will overcome this barrier to a law enforcement career. A felony conviction bars the possession of firearms.

"I'm 33 now, and even if I have to wait four years, I'll still be at an age where I'd still be effective to be able to serve my community," Pizer tells 27 News.

Walker's likely challenger in November's election, democratic former state commerce secretary Mary Burke, has said she would consider pardon requests.

Pizer believes pardons could be an election issue. "I do think it will sway some," Pizer says.

Walker says the pardon issue is marginal to Wisconsites, especially compared to issues such as job, taxes and schools.

Pizer says he recently met with the victim of his crime, and the man accepted his apology and forgave him.
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