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Investigator: Judge wrongly accused co-workers

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge was wrong when he accused his co-workers of criminal misconduct, according to an investigator.

Patrick Fiedler, a former judge and U.S. attorney, said there was no truth to Ozaukee County Judge Joe Voiland’s claim that others in the courthouse were out to get him.

Fiedler released his findings Tuesday in an investigation that began in February, after Voiland alleged that Clerk of Courts Mary Lou Mueller’s office improperly deleted or altered online court records, the Post Crescent reported.

Fiedler said Mueller and her staff made errors in some of the cases Voiland referenced, but that they were a result of human error and not “an attempt to usurp the authority of Judge Voiland.” Fiedler noted that the errors were fixed after being identified.

“Communication between Judge Voiland and the others involved is a serious problem,” Fiedler wrote. “I question how this situation could have evolved to the extent that it has. This communication problem has resulted in a lack of trust which has affected the administration of the court system.”

Voiland didn’t respond to requests for comment by the newspaper.

Mueller said she felt vindicated, noting that many of the mistakes came as the county was converting to a paperless record-keeping system.

“I am extremely pleased that the investigation found what we had been saying all along: There is no basis for allegations that I, or anyone else in my office, violated any law,” Mueller said, adding that she was pleased Fiedler acknowledged her office was taking appropriate corrective measures.

This is the second investigation prompted by Voiland, who accused courthouse officials of criminal misconduct last year. He claimed that case records were altered or destroyed to undermine or embarrass him, but the 15-month investigation abruptly ended in September after Voiland stopped cooperating with the inquiry.

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