Wenger’s Trial Rescheduled for August
Former congressional candidate subpoenaed as witness in case of resisting arrest
By Brandi Makuski
The trial of a Stevens Point man who has been charged with resisting an officer during a 2014 incident has been adjourned until August.
Scott Wenger, 46, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting an officer after being arrested for causing a scene at the 2014 Art in the Park. Attendees at the Pfiffner Pioneer Park event complained to police that Wenger was acting suspiciously and taking their photos without asking.
Judge Thomas Flugaur, who said he was mindful of the charges getting tossed on appeal, dismissed the charge of disorderly conduct, saying it would be “difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt”.
But the charge of resisting an officer remains, and Wenger’s fighting that charge as well. After turning down a plea deal from Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Constable, Wenger waived his right to a jury trial, asking instead for a bench trial before Flugaur, which began June 29.
Wenger appeared before Flugaur on Wednesday along with his attorney Jared Redfield, who announced an addition to the defense’s witness list. Constable objected to the additional witness, saying it violated state statutes governing timely disclosure of evidence and witnesses.
“It’s clear that Ms. Constable should win the motion, meaning you can’t use the witness,” Flugaur said. “It also is clear that if I do that, then the defendant will have, on appeal, ineffective assistance of counsel, and then we’re going to have a new trial. The first thing the Court of Appeals is going to say is, ‘Well, he didn’t have his witness because his lawyer didn’t follow the statute.’ So that’s where I’m stuck. The middle ground is to adjourn.”
Three officers from the Stevens Point Police Dept. involved in the case were subpoenaed and awaiting their turns to testify in court on Wednesday. They were excused until August.
“I agree with the judge completely as far as needing to adjourn the case because of the violation of the discovery statute,” Constable said after court adjourned.
When asked for a comment on Wednesday’s proceedings, Redfield said, “I have been instructed by my client to make no comment on this matter”.
The witness who had been missing from Redfield’s discovery list was former Republican candidate Tony Kurtz, who ran against Congressman Ron Kind in 2014. Kurtz, who drove from LaCrosse on Wednesday to testify as to what he saw that day, was campaigning at Art in Park and witnessed the events leading up to and including Wenger’s arrest.
According to the criminal complaint, police attempted to question Wenger at the park about his photography, but Wenger only responded by videotaping the officers and asking if he was being detained repeatedly until he was yelling. After several moments a large crowd had begun to gather and watch, and police took him into custody for creating a disturbance.
Wenger resisted to such a degree officers weren’t able to restrain his hands in the same pair of handcuffs, according to the complaint. Officers on either side of Wenger were eventually able to place one pair of handcuffs on each of his wrists, then cuff the pair together behind his back. Wenger then “intentionally flopped” to the ground, according to the complaint.
Officers managed to get Wenger into the squad car by laying him down on the back seat. As they were searching him for weapons, Wenger suddenly became quiet and polite. Believing he would now be cooperative, officers sat him upright.
But Wenger then sprang from the car and began shouting at the crowd, advising people to videotape what he called “police abuse” with their cell phones, before officers could successfully restrain him in the backseat.
Wenger returns to court for his continued bench trial on Aug. 24.