Appeals court upholds conviction in Len Kachinsky restraining order violation

Kachinsky was featured in the Making a Murder documentary series
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Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 11:54 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - An Appeals Court has upheld a jury’s findings that former Fox Crossing Municipal Judge Len Kachinsky violated a restraining order

On July 29, the District II Court of Appeals upheld a verdict that found Kachinsky guilty of one count of Violate/Harassment Restraining Order. He was convicted at jury trial and sentenced to five days in jail and probation.

Kachinsky appealed, claiming evidence was insufficient for a jury to find that he violated the injunction and that the trial court “erroneously exercised its discretion in imposing probation conditions” that barred him from posting on social media and entering the Fox Crossing municipal building. He also claimed that the injunction violated his due process rights.

The appeals court rejected his arguments.

"We conclude that Kachinsky's prosecution comported with due process; that sufficient evidence supported the jury verdict; and that the trial court properly exercised its discretion to impose probation conditions that were reasonable and appropriate for Kachinsky's rehabilitation and the protection of society (and, specifically, the petitioner)," reads the court ruling.

In 2018, a Fox Crossing court manager was granted a restraining order against Kachinsky. Under the order, Kachinsky was to have no contact with her outside of work and all communications "shall be limited to what is necessary to perform the functions of the Village of Fox Crossing Municipal Court."

Last July, prosecutors charged Kachinsky with Stalking. In response, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Kachinsky from the bench. On Dec. 10, a jury found Kachinsky not guilty of felony Stalking.

Kachinsky decided not to run for re-election as Fox Crossing Municipal Judge.

The restraining order against Kachinsky was set to expire May 1. However, Kachinsky continued to contact the woman prior to that date. He was arrested for violating the restraining order.

Kachinsky claimed he only contacted the woman about court business.

The woman described her interactions with Kachinsky as “a living nightmare.” She released a statement prior to Kachinsky’s sentencing.

"This man won't leave me alone, and it's clear," she stated. "And nothing will stop him. Absolutely nothing will stop him, and it doesn't matter who the authority is or it's just me. I mean, when the man got out of jail, the first one he was e-mailing was me. I just don't understand. Just please leave me alone. That's all I've asked since the beginning. I've asked it to be professional for two-and-a-half years, and clearly, that cannot be the case. And he has been suspended and still will be suspended for the next two years. And he won't stop .... I am begging you to just do something that he will leave me alone. That's all I ask."

The woman stated that Kachinsky continued to post about her on Facebook. That’s why the circuit court judge included a social media ban as part of probation.

The appeals court said, "In particular, Kachinsky seemed incapable of refraining from posting about [petitioner] online, so the trial court reasonably concluded that it was necessary to designate a period in which all social media posting was prohibited."

Last July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order that suspends Kachinsky from eligibility for appointment as a reserve municipal court judge for three years.

"In addition, because Judge Kachinsky's misconduct demonstrates that he currently lacks the judicial temperament and the insight into his actions that are required for a judge to preside over and manage a court, we also require him to petition this court and successfully demonstrate to us that he is fit to serve as a reserve municipal judge before he may request an appointment to serve as a reserve municipal judge from the chief judge of the applicable judicial district," reads the court's 44-page decision.

The decision was a response to to a ethics complaint filed against Kachinsky. After an evidentiary hearing, the panel concluded that Kachinsky violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

"We have found multiple acts in violation of the judicial code of conduct thus demonstrating that Judge Kachinsky's misconduct was not an isolated occurrence but a pattern of conduct," the panel stated.

Kachinsky was featured in the Netflix series “Making A Murderer.” He served as Brendan Dassey’s attorney following Dassey’s arrest for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

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