Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Courtroom Mystery
In what was a surprising and seemingly predetermined court proceeding, criminal felony charges against the Mercer 5 were dismissed Monday by Iron County Circuit Judge Patrick Madden.  (For details about the charges and the defendants see MSF 4/2/19 The Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly)
Of, course, the defendants must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  But Judge Madden blocked even making that determination by throwing out the cases on a technicality that the criminal charges were flawed. We will never know if the charges actually were flawed because Judge Madden did not give District Attorney Matthew Tingstad an adequate opportunity to prove otherwise.
Almost at the start of the initial appearances of the Mercer 5 on Monday it appeared that Judge Madden had already made up his mind to dismiss the charges. It was supposed to be initial appearances at which the defendants are read the charges and bonds are set. 
Instead, Madden moved right into hearing the motions to dismiss which were filed only last Tuesday through Thursday by the defendants’ attorneys.   Judge Madden could do this, but in disregarding the timing he blindsided District Attorney Matthew Tingstad.
Tingstad went to court Monday morning expecting only initial appearance proceedings.  Judge Madden probably knew – or should have known -- that the one to three working days Tingstad had since receiving the motions to dismiss was not adequate time to prepare a response. Under the law, Tingstad should have been allowed sufficient time to respond to the motions,
As further evidence that Judge Madden made his decisions before entering the courtroom Monday morning, he had not even seen the letter on which he based his dismissals.  The district attorney gave him a copy during the first motion hearing.  Judge Madden took about 1-1/2 minutes to read it and then quickly decided that signatures under the heading “Mercer Board of Education” did not matter.
But probably the most befuddling of all in the Monday courtroom scene was Judge Madden’s dismissal of a charge against Deanna Pierpont.  She had been charged with destroying the video recording of the May 2017 Mercer School District annual meeting at which one school board member shouted an obscenity and another charged at a person speaking. 
Apparently willing to ignore a Wisconsin statute, Judge Madden errored in ruling that since the school was not legally required to record board meetings there was no requirement that the video had to be preserved.   However, Wisconsin Statute 19.31(2) clearly states that video recordings are public records and that once they are made they must be preserved.
In another strange maneuver, Madden dismissed charges against Micki Pierce Holmstrom on his basis of the other dismissals, even though her attorney had filed a motion asking only for “Demand for Discovery and Inspection”.
Tingstad can appeal Judge Madden’s decisions and Mercer residents can file complaints about his questionable actions with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. (
So, in making his hasty Monday morning decisions was Judge Madden only eager to dispose of what could be a series of long drawn out legal proceedings, or were there other motives?


  1. As most everyione knows, there is no justice in Iron County.

    I would highly encourage all parents to send their children to other schools where they will have an opportunity to better themselves.

  2. All eyes are now on TIngstad. One set of eyes for not filing a complaint separately. One set for not asking for a change of venue. Another set on his next action (or not) with the Judicial Commission. HEADLINE is PERFECT.

  3. We need to make sure we remember this action when Judge Madden at election time.
    Wow, Bob Davis is now school board president as per the school web page. Ms. Pierpont is no longer listed on the school board list. Did she resign? Still have 1 open does the board appoint or take the next person with votes per the last election?

    1. How did Bob get elected president???????? He was sitting at his first ever board meeting and got elected???? Ohhhh - I forgot - it's Mercer. Ms. Pierpont did not run for re-election. The board should place the next highest vote getter in the last election to the board. Like that will happen.
      If the state attorney general doesn't jump on this one, Iron County will - once again - be the laughing stock of Wisconsin. If you think that this draws tourist to the area I think you are mistaken. It seems that the "Good Ol Boy" attitude extends all the way up the way to the top - and bottom in Iron County.

    2. Hey idiot there is a legal procedure for board replacement. Calm down and let these fine board members clean up the mess. I have confidence in them.

    3. Ask Jim and Karl, they voted for him to be president?

      Also, the way it works is, the board decides from a list of applicants that submit there resumes; to fill out the remaining year of Noel’s term.

    4. When did any legal procedure matter to this school board???? You have confidence in them. And I'm the idiot.

  4. WDIO reported, Judge Patrick Madden tells WDIO News that he moved to dismiss the charges because in every case there needs to be a "guilty mind" and a "guilty act."

    Madden says in the cases of the school board members there was no "guilty mind."

    Hey Madden are you the Iron County Psychic Network now?

    Exactly how does guilty look? Maybe you should look in the mirror.

  5. If you ask me Madden is "MAD" He must be to dismiss this bunch of cons!!

  6. Yes, it is a sad day when the "old guard" gets to decide what is needed in this county. Madden should have allowed this to move forward and let a jury decide the fate of these people. Instead, Madden decided he knew best which leaves one to wonder what was involved to help his decision process. Everyone should respect our district attorney for at least attempting to do the correct action. Matt Tingstead (DA) can proceed forward with this but it sure puts him in a difficult spot. One can only hope/assume that more is to come from the state, DA, or from the taxpayers of Mercer. A HUGE thank you to this page for allowing the facts (yes, they are facts) to be public. At the very least the public can see where things stand and hopefully make solid choices in the future. Letters have been written to Matt Tingstad encouraging him to push forward with this issue. Many of them are from people outside of the Town of Mercer who believe this problem needs fixed and believe in fair play. This issue has been handled poorly for years and it appears it continues to be. Just think that a neighboring township not to many years ago was considering joining the Mercer School District because it was providing such a great education to it's children. Not any more. These children are being taught that cheating is the best way to succeed in this world.
    The destruction of the open meeting record (video or other) should have at the very least been prosecuted. Mercer will continue to lose good teachers and some funding due to this mess. Who would wish to put a career of teaching in the hands of those running the show? Who wishes to raise there children in a community where cheating, lying, and favoritism rules the day? What are these children being taught through all of this? Looks like being #422 in the state is a deserved rating.

  7. So what’s the next play? Lawsuits, more criminal indictments, pickets, continued pressure of the board to take some type of action or a combination of things?

  8. You won't publish my other post so let's try this. Consider this...Jim and Karl negotiated with Pierce and Davis so that Davis could be President and Jim could be Treasurer. This gives Jim Karl, Tingstad, and the DPI access to all of the numbers. Can you imagine what are in those books?


  9. Rest assure that none of my money will go to any place in Iron County. If I can I will avoid this place like the plague.

  10. If the information posted throughout this blog concerning alleged conduct of board and former board members, the showing of a particular video, and the information posted above ("TORKELSON COMP. $165,963, Contract $98,000; Benefits $30,000, 3rd highest paid of state's 424 admin., Wis. DPI Supt comp. $121,307 Cost per student Mercer $24,910, Wis. $12,942, Nation $10,667 Mercer DPI Report Card score lowest of all 422 Wis. schools”) is indeed true, it appears that there is a serious cancer on the community. Surely there are knowledgeable, ethical, competent people dedicated to following the governing rules of school administration and basic dignity who have no agenda other than respectable, accountable service, willing and able to serve in such roles. Tax payers and students deserve as much. A school system infected with nepotism (if that be the case), cliques, and a culture of the "have and have nots" is not responsible, a good example to students, healthy, or moral. If we are to be “All In” then we ALL should truly be IN, not just a few. Otherwise, it may be time to seriously consider consolidation with a larger, more diverse, and respected district dedicated to superior, well rounded education.

    1. In Mercer? In Iron County? In Wisconsin? Following rules, NOT.

      Best thing for students and taxpayers is to consolidate to a larger district. But then where would some of the parasites at the school currently at the school get a check for doing almost nothing?