Mar 24, 2014

Motion Granted for New Judge in Gtac Protester Case

Katie Krow Kloth
Update: Per order, assigning judge/judicial assignment order, Price County Circuit Court Judge Douglas T. Fox will preside.

Katie Kloth, an environmental and Native American activist who is facing four criminal charges for alleged actions at a 2013 political protest, made a motion for a new judge today, approved by Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden.

The proposed Gogebic Taconite (Gtac) mine site is the source of widespread political opposition in Wisconsin, that in turn has seen the Koch brothers getting involved in local Iron County races over the mine.

Kloth's motion for substitution follows repeated public assertions made by citizen environmentalists and activists that Kloth would have trouble getting a fair trial in Judge Madden's courtroom because he is biased in favor of the proposed mine, (GTac), longtime Iron County residents note.

No rationale for the motion by Kloth has been made public, and the source for this development is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system.

A perception of bias is often the basis for seeking motions for judicial substitutions in criminal cases, and in itself implies nothing about the presiding judge.

The Iron County Circuit Court is located in the Ninth Judicial District, Wisconsin.

A friend of the Kloth family reports that the family is not returning media calls.

The Iron County DA, Martin Lipske, has a disturbing history of corruption, including overcharging politically disfavored defendants.

- Piece is updated to reflect the fact that seeking judicial substitutions in criminal cases does not in itself imply bias on the part of the presiding judge. There is a multiplicity of reasons for a defendant to move for a judicial substitution. In this case Judge Madden is in the tank for the mining company. -


  1. Wisconsin gives a defendant the right to substitute the judge without needing to show a reason. It is unique among states in that respect. So no basis for granting the request is required, unless it hasn't been timely made.

    I have followed the mining issue closely and have seen no evidence that Judge Madden is biased in favor of the mine. I don't know what his personal position is generally regarding the prospect of a mine, but I haven't seen a ruling or statement from him suggesting bias on the issue. From a practical standpoint, it just makes good sense for a defendant to get an outside judge if there is concern of heavy political pressure within the county.

  2. Atty Stella, You are correct about judicial substitutions, of course, though I was not aware Wisconsin is unique in this respect.

    As for Judge Madden, since you likely are going to be appearing before Judge Madden in the future in Iron County (pop, 5,200), though I love your column, you cannot be cited as an unbiased source on Madden.

    In fact, are you not prevented by ethics from pointing out that Madden is corrupt on this issue?

    In any event, ask, for example, Robert (Barrel Bob) Gollubske how he feels about Madden's objectivity RE Gtac. After DA Lipske tried to railroad Gollubske last year, Madden said from the bench, "The (threatening) words are out there and in people’s minds." Madden said the public doesn’t feel safe and the case has caused "a public furor." Bullshit. This was Madden fronting for GTac, you are apparently the only one pretending Madden is not in the tank for GTac. The "Bomb Scare" case was dismissed after Gollubske made a motion for judicial substitution specifically, I happen to know, over concern that Madden was biased for Gtac, not exactly a rare condition in Iron County. Madden and Lipske tried to convict him on an alleged bomb scare RE Gtac, after he had, and rightfully so, complained about what an asphalt company was doing to his farm, air and water. Then, he related how awful this was with what would be worse by the proposed mine's operation. It was a bullshit charge by Lipske, Madden should have tossed it, he refused because Madden fronts for Gtac; Judge Fox did toss the case.

    I don't fault attys for buying good will from a judge in a small, corrupt county, just not over the lives on innocent people.