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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

“Friends in High Places”
The saying “There is something rotten in Denmark” could very well apply to the Iron County Circuit Court of Judge Patrick Madden.  
This line from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is interpreted by scholars of his writings to mean “there was something wrong with a certain situation – there was cause to be suspicious of people and their motives”
And there certainly is cause to be suspicious of the way in which Judge Madden handled the dismissal of the criminal felony charges against the “Mercer 5.” The news coverage by the three local newspapers would lead someone to conclude that the defendants’ best attorney was the judge himself.
In what was supposed to be an initial appearance of the five present and former Mercer School Board members, for some inexplicable reason, Judge Madden moved right into hearing motions for dismissal of the charges. This is very rarely done with criminal felony proceedings.  Such dismissal motions, filed by the defendants’ attorneys just one to three workings day before the initial appearances, would normally be heard at later court sessions.
At the start of the initial appearances, Madden ignored District Attorney Matthew Tingstad’s plea: “I am not prepared to argue today on the (dismissal) motions.  There was not enough notice.”  And before Madden dropped the final case, Tingstad said: “I didn’t even get to see the motion before coming into court, your honor”.  (This point was well made in an excellently written article by Abigail Bostwick in the Lakeland Times.)
This was not the first time that Madden has shown extraordinary favoritism to some of his pals on the Mercer School Board.  In a restraining order hearing about three years ago, he took the word of Deanna Pierpont, School Board president at the time and a defendant in the “Mercer 5” criminal cases, and Mercer School Administrator Erik Torkelson, that a letter alleging harassment of Mercer teacher Robyn Schoeneman had been written by Christa Reinert.  Christa was a candidate for election to the School Board and Pierpont and Torkelson knew they could not risk her being on the Board because of the possibility that she would have access to embarrassing and incriminating information about School Board and administrative practices.
Madden issued the restraining order, basing it on the false information that Christa had written the letter.  When another person submitted a sworn statement that he actually wrote the letter, Madden, showing loyalty to his School Board pals, denied a motion by Attorney Tony Stella to reverse his restraining order against Christa, even though there was proof that Christa had not written the letter.
As another saying goes,” It helps to have friends (Judge Madden) in high places.”
Contact DA Tingstad and encourage him to appeal the”Mercer 5” dismissals and email the Wisconsin Judicial Commission (  to ask for an investigation of Judge Madden’s conduct.


  1. There’s more to Madden’s background than your blog presents. It was well known a few years back that he was a bit too familiar with the plaintiff in a criminal assault case. The plaintiff was the girlfriend of the guy charged. Madden gave the poor guy a 40- year prison sentence for something that should have been a few months, if anything at all.

  2. Is this Mercer school facts or iron county court facts?

  3. It goes without saying that almost everyone in Iron County government is pathetically involved in somehow scamming the taxpayers. I realize there are other places like it, but just ask people from neighboring towns and they will tell you how bad it is in Iron County. And that if they had lived there, they couldn't wait to get out.

  4. At least you said "almost everyone" in iron county government is scamming the taxpayers. Some are in politics because they like being involved in it. Depending on your involvement you really aren't getting rich off of it.