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La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Ramona Gonzalez isn’t backing down after an assistant police chief called her out after a shooting suspect was re-arrested earlier this week in a drug bust just four hours after posting the $2,500 cash bond Gonzalez had set.

Gonzalez used the first few minutes of her time presiding over Friday’s intake session to talk about the role of bond, a day after La Crosse Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham complained about the case in a department release headlined “The Revolving Door of La Crosse County.”

La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez

La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez

Gonzalez said she wouldn’t give interviews, tweet or talk to media but would instead “educate” people at court about the different branches of the justice system and their function.

“I am not the queen although I wish I was. I do not just get to set willy nilly what I want,” Gonzalez said. “It is not my job to set (bond) and to rule based upon anger, or what other people think, but about justice and the law.”

She commented on the role of police.

“Law enforcement has a very important role. Their job is to intervene in the first instance, to arrest when they have probable cause,” Gonzalez said. “They don’t get to arrest anybody who they feel like. They arrest individuals that meet the criteria for arrest and probable cause.”

She explained her job as a judge setting bond: “The purpose of bond is not to keep you in jail just to keep you in jail, but to keep you in jail until it can be determined that you can be released with the certainty that you will return to have justice be done.”

Matthew Symitczek

Symitczek

Jesse Turnmire, 29, of Bangor, was arrested Wednesday night, about four hours after being released from jail. According to a criminal complaint, investigators heard him speaking with Matthew “Big Ears” Symitczek, 32, who told Turnmire he was staying at the Candlewood Suites and would pay the $2,500 bond.

Jesse R. Turnmire

Turnmire

Investigators knew Symitczek was using and selling methamphetamine in the La Crosse area, according to the complaint. Turnmire was arrested about 10:30 p.m., carrying 10 to 15 grams of methamphetamine.

Matthew Symitczek

Symitczek

Authorities also discovered a large amount of cash and a pellet handgun in Turnmire’s vehicle, along with a box of handgun ammunition, more methamphetamine and suspected heroin in Symitczek and Turnmire’s hotel room.

Turnmire was charged Friday with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and three counts of felony bail jumping, all repeat offenses. Symitczek was charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts of felony bail jumping.

Gonzalez set Turnmire and Symitczek’s bonds at $10,000. Conditions of both their bonds are drug testing with Justice Support Services and having no contact with each other.

La Crosse police Assistant Chief Rob Abraham

Abraham

“Mr. Turnmire is the perfect example of how each element of the system of justice does its job. I did my job, Mr. Turnmire, by setting your bond by what I believe is an appropriate amount to continue appearances,” said Gonzalez. “Thank you for demonstrating to my community that the system works, Mr. Turnmire.”

Abraham on Thursday said Turnmire had presented a danger to the community after the initial shooting incident and that Gonzalez should have set a higher bond.

“Firing bullets into a house is a serious community safety issue. In this incident I don’t believe that community safety was considered by lowering the bond. I don’t understand why our judges keep letting felons with guns consistently back onto the streets,” Abraham said.

Turnmire’s next court appearance is Dec. 27 and Symitczek’s is Jan. 3.


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(44) comments

Brice Prairie

Maybe it is time for the Tribune to print an article showing how many of those given a second chance end up being repeat offenders in LaCrosse's court system, by Judge.

Beholden to the Truth

Judge Gonzalez's term will expire in July 2019 (as do all current judges with the exception of Judge Doyle). We need to remember her sentiment here when voting in the upcoming election. Put the word out and lets vote for a change so we can get back some semblance of respect for the law and finally get some of these violent criminals off the streets of our community! The spring elections will be here before we know it.
There will no doubt be multiple canditates, lets put some judges in place who understand we absolutely want and require a safe community.

https://www.cityoflacrosse.org/content/407/437/1252/1273/default.aspx

mamasboy

I heard a report that said there won't be anyone challenging incumbents in the next election. SAD !

Beholden to the Truth

Judge Gonzalez says "this illustrates how the system is working" Hmmm? You set a bond so low for a guy who shoots up a building, he is out and re-offends right away!
What worked in that picture?

I don't see her side at all. Many of us believe in 2nd chances and rehabilitation, but with violent (and especially reckless) offenders, this community is obviously in agreement we need to be tough. Are we supposed to wait until a child is shot through the wall while laying in their crib to rally around the idea that its possible to be too nice (when it comes to violent offenders)?

The community is ready for the judges to step up and toughen up the standards of what we're willing to accept here. La Crosse is not a place where shootings should become the norm. A shooting should be a huge deal. Why not a 50,000 bond, or more. They are so lucky a stray bullet did not kill or serisouly injure someone!

Judge Gonzalez needs to be the very first person that we replace. She thinks shes doing a good thing by setting low bonds, and doesn't realize she's acting in a way thats not only enabling (these offenders are not rehabilitating) but also very reckless for a judge! She's putting the community and the police in situations of high risk for a continuation of violence perpetrated by criminal element that everyone agree's we don't want around here.

Nothing at all against Judge Gonzalez. I was a supporter in the past, and we have certainly enjoyed/supported the music of her brother when he was here, so I have nothing against her or her family. Unfortunately, La Crosse has changed in the past 20 years, and it has changed for the worst as far as crime is concerned. Judge Gonzalez has been a part of that change. She has completely failed us as city in doing her job, and yet here she is wanting to educate us? What's wrong with this picture?

She is a good person, has a decent heart, but as far as her ideas go, she is clearly still operating in some previous decade and is did not notice its not what La Crosse needs going forward. I wish her the best, but let's get the ball moving to move forward with another vision for La Crosse. A vision of safety. A vision that lets criminals know we do not feel sorry for them. A vision that clearly shows criminals that their crimes, violence, and behavior will not be tolerated here! Enough is enough.

let it go

If repeat offenders did not wish for Ramona to be their judge I would tend to agree with Ramona. But, if the criminals themselves see her as a lenient judge there is a problem.

lutefisk

This judge thinks you are dumb.. ..and if you agree with her explanation in why she lowered bond.. ..you are dumb.
I know of one defense attorney who says attorneys chuckle about her skillset.

capedcrusader

Oh yea? Who is that?

lutefisk

Yeah .. .like i'm gonna out the guy

capedcrusader

lutefisk - you make a comment about others at least be able to back it up. I think you made that up.

mamasboy

I sat through a week long case with her as judge. She comes across as more of a personality than as an intellectual.

Buena Vista

The La Crosse Police Department has always been an enemy of many people. And when you have the local PD speaking out against judges that many support, that hatred towards the PD only intensifies. - The judges are doing their job. Police force, do yours now, including keeping your opinions to yourself.

capedcrusader

I wonder how La Crosse Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham would feel if the Judges aired the Police Depts dirty laundry in the Court of Public opinion. Abraham should know how to follow the chain of command by now and try to resolve differences professionally. If Abraham did get the green light from his boss he ought to know better too. His confrontational approach doesn't do one thing to make law enforcement look any better. This isn't about personalities it's about issues and the law. If he and others on the Police Dept have a problem with it then work through communication to get it resolved. I'm not convinced that a letter to the newspaper is better than direct involvement with the Judges. Maybe Mr Abraham needs to get educated on more things then just that there are those in the community that like him. He's not doing the Dept any favors with this approach and if he wants to be professional than act like it. By the way, to the people making fun of the judge for things including her picture, Mr Abraham should thank his lucky stars that he works for an agency that allows facial hair.

crank

There are a great number of people who are frustrated by the increase in violence, gangs and drug crimes in our community. Judge Gonzalez and Mr Abraham are talking past each other. She may be correct in her explanation of the role bond plays in the justice system. She had reasons, I suppose, why she lowered bond previously set at $10,000. We haven’t heard why she didn’t simply set it at $2500 at the outset. She has not explained why she frequently realeases repeat violent offenders who are found guilty of their crimes.

Mr Abraham and his officers put themselves in harm’s way each time they have to apprehend one of these armed criminals. You can certainly understand why they’re unhappy.

DaisyL

Any one who has read or been in court when Judge Ramona is presiding knows that the accused will be getting a get out of jail free card. Always a good deal & day if one has pulled this judge for their court case. She will even get her husband to drive you home if your car has been impounded. (Recall the kid who continually terrorized his block by driving at reckless speeds.)

Redwall

The Tribune missed the mark on the title to this article (as usual). Bonds do have an important role in the justice system and is codified in law.

The problem is the administration of bonds within the confines of the law; in this case the lack of weight given to protecting the community. The last time I looked there are two sides to the scales of justice.

Redwall

According to the Tribune, the judge stated: “Thank you for demonstrating to my community that the system works, Mr. Turnmire.”

We have a judge thanking a repeat felon for repeating crimes against the community?

The Mouse of Death

[censored]It would behoove us to keep the population under control by increasing the crime rate so that letting dangerous animals and criminals loose will cull the herd of wildebeests and people. We are indeed bemezzled by the Ramona who saves the criminals especially the violent ones that cull the herd of wildebeests and people.

random annoying bozo

judges like ramona are what is wrong with our criminal justice system...she puts their biases and her politics ahead of the law.

capedcrusader

Give us some examples rab.

Jobaba

The police are not elected. They have a right to an opinion, but not to speak for the public or to try to represent the views of the public. I agree with the view that if they have an option on judges, they should seek to become one. As for Jobaba being on house arrest? The idiot idea of an authoritarian seeking to punish an honorable American for having an opinion.

Louie

Solution: no bond. Put them on house arrest with Jobaba, anon608 or Buena Vista! Then Rob can ignore calls to those homes, save his time an our money?

Tommy Duncan

The Tribune needs a current picture of Ramona. Their file picture is probably 35+ years old.

capedcrusader

And that has to do with what?

Tommy Duncan

Her picture was part of the story. The picture is dated and is no longer suitable.

capedcrusader

That's your opinion. Obviously it isn't the Tribunes.

Tommy Duncan

capedcrusader, may the spirit of Christmas fill your heart.

capedcrusader

Nice dodge.

Seth Poole

You go Abe !

madmen60

If Rob wants to be a judge, he's going to need to go to law school. It is the sole province of judges to set bond.

Jobaba

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46658874

Jobaba

If the frustration of being a police officer are too much, move along. We do not need to change our laws to make your job easier. We have already done that enough. We cannot lock people up and throw away the key in this country...yet.

Rondo

Danger to the Public = 2500.00 - hmm - what is wrong with picture. If we show zero tolerance with high bonds then this might help in making them move somewhere else. La Crosse is getting a reputation of a Drug ridden city and low bonds are not helping. Raymond R. Lewis, Aric Elmore and now Jesse Turnmire. Stop the MADNESS! Go La Crosse Police! Romona - shame on you.

Skittles

How do we get her off the bench

anon608

I agree with ramona. He still has to accept responsibility for his action when he returns to court. Innocent before proven guilty, not the other way around. She is doing her job perfectly neutral and non biased like it should be.

Buena Vista

I agree with you, anon608. - But I would like to add that I believe the La Crosse Police Department needs to quit going public with their bashing of the La Crosse judges. That is NOT part of their job. All the P.D. is doing is creating annomosity towards a group of judges that do a very good job of making difficult decisions. I sure wouldn't want their job. - I support the all the judges in La Crosse, and less and less the police in this city.

canman

Ramona is completely wrong, she has the choice to set a bond high enough to keep accused in jail. Why does she think $2500 cash is a large amount of money to a druggie, it’s a large sum to most working people, who she is supposed to protect.

capedcrusader

What amount ensures that it would "keep him in jail?"

Redwall

The judge's speech was played at length on the radio. In it the judge referenced at least five times the purpose of posting bail serving to incentivize the defendant shows up for trial, while only indirectly referencing in an obtuse manner the idea of protecting the public.

In this case, as in many others, the defendants are repeat violent offenders, putting at risk themselves, their criminal associates, police officers, and the public.

We have several judges who repeatedly disregard safety of the public and police by allowing low bail when no bail would be more appropriate.

The police are spot on in speaking out on this foolishness. We need mature, responsible people to run for judgeships; enough is enough.

Rick Czeczok

The police serve and protect the public and she puts us in danger. She needs to be looked into. This is not the first, second, or even the third time, she has put the public, and this city in danger. Just not thinking straight.

BichonFrise

Judge Gonzales you are the epitome of a weak Judge!!!!!!!!!!! You downsize one's bond and he gets out . Then within several hours is arrested for drugs again!! How stupid are you?? Really I would like to know your IQ. You do this all the time. Time for you to go!!!!!!

Redwall

According to the article, "Authorities also discovered a LARGE AMOUNT OF CASH (italics added) and a pellet handgun in Turnmire’s vehicle, along with a box of handgun ammunition, more methamphetamine..."

All this after the judge reduced Turnmire's bail.

It would seem by reducing Turnmires cash bail the judge was unwittingly helping to finance Turnmire's criminal activity.

gb506

Abraham is correct. Over and over again Gonzales and her fellow judges demonstrate a disregard for the safety of law abiding La Crosse residents. She coddles the scumbags and imperils the innocent, and she doesn’t have a clue why that’s 180 degrees off from proper. Shameful.

ElPresidente

What is she talking about? This proves the system works... You let a criminal loose and he commits another crime, yep, I guess she was right.

Louie

I'm a resident and I completely agree with, and side with, Abraham. I believe the vast majority of all residents agree. I'm not going to trash anyone but, Rob is CORRECT!

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