Burnett County Judge Melissia Mogen ended a felony sentencing hearing in Siren because of technology issues. She also stated the magnitude of the charges demand an in-person hearing.
“This is a serious matter,” Mogen said during the Zoom call that was replayed on YouTube.
In a Zoom conference call hosted by the Wisconsin Court System. “This is a big deal and this is not working.”
Michael Denn was first arrested in early 2018 and is still waiting to be sentenced in his felony case. He was facing multiple felony counts including possession of methamphetamine.
Mogen was frustrated with technology issues and the seriousness of the offense. On the Zoom cal, Mogen was having trouble seeing and hearing all participants.
Mogen spent time talking with the court reporter who had informed the judge the new sound system and video conferencing equipment was not working properly in the courtroom.
“This is a felony offense and I think it needs to be done in person,” Mogen said before abruptly concluding the hearing and scheduled an in-person sentencing hearing for June 19.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has postponed all in-person hearings until after May 22 and it does not look like the Supreme Court will be extending that order.
This is not the first time the sentencing has been delayed.
There was a sentencing hearing scheduled earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic took over large swaths of daily life. That hearing was delayed so Denn could have dental work done and was in too much pain to go forward with the hearing.
There were also a pair of sentencing hearings scheduled for earlier this year. Those were delayed to errors in court documents such as incorrect sentencing guidelines.
According to the criminal complaint, in February 2018 Denn was pulled over after driving erratically and later fled the stop in his vehicle. Officers then were able to get Denn out of the vehicle and later used a taser on him.
In October 2019, he pleaded guilty to vehicle operator flee or elude officer and pleaded no contest to attempting to disarm a peace officer, both charges are felony counts. He was initially facing five felony counts, three misdemeanor counts and six traffic cases.