Clerk of courts files claim seeking reimbursement for $33K in attorney fees incurred during investigation sparked by judge

Ozaukee County Clerk of Courts Mary Lou Mueller said an investigation sparked by Judge Joseph Voiland’s false accusations against her and two other court officials cost her more than $30,000 in legal fees.

Neither that investigation nor a criminal probe that preceded it found any evidence to support Voiland’s claims that Mueller, Ozaukee County presiding Judge Paul Malloy or Circuit Court Commissioner Barry Boline committed felony misconduct in office while conspiring to subvert his career, and now Mueller is asking the county to reimburse the $33,224 she paid attorneys who represented her during a state probe of the county court system earlier this year.

Mueller, a veteran of the Clerk of Courts Office who was elected to lead the department in 2011 and serves as the county’s register in probate, filed a $33,224 claim with the county last week.   

“These were very serious allegations for Judge Voiland to make with no foundation whatsoever,” she said. “I felt I needed representation.”

The claim is to be considered by the County Board on Dec. 5, and County Administrator Jason Dzwinel and  the county’s attorney, Corporation Counsel Rhonda Gorden, confirmed this week that the county’s insurance carrier has advised the board to deny the claim. Gorden said that she is prepared to recommend the board follow that advice.

Claims are often precursors to lawsuits, but Mueller said this week she has not decided whether to sue her longtime employer if her claim if denied.

“That’s something I need to think hard about,” she said. “I do believe the county has a duty to make sure its elected officials can do their jobs.”

Fallout from a courthouse saga that began in spring 2016 and concluded just two months ago, Mueller’s claim is the first indication of the costs of multiple investigations triggered by Voiland, who unseated longtime Branch 2 Judge Tom Wolfgram in the April 2013 election with a campaign that focused on Wolfgram’s signing of the Gov. Scott Walker recall petition.  (Read more…)