The Walworth County District Attorney's Office filed a charge against Henry Johnson on Nov. 17 that accused him of mishandling drunken driving tickets issued by local police in the past four years.
Johnson, 56, of W8246 Lake Shore Road, Sharon, is charged with failing to perform his duty. It carries a penalty of up to three years and six months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Judge Robert Kennedy heard arguments Wednesday that local prosecutors might be biased against Johnson because of his affiliation with Delavan municipal court for five years and being a former Walworth County sheriff's deputy.
Kennedy said he didn't believe a special prosecutor is needed, but he agreed to accept additional written briefs from attorneys on the issue.
Johnson is free on a $5,000 signature bond.
Former Municipal Judge LeRoy Himebauch fired Johnson on March 11, after the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles reported Johnson was not promptly reporting drunken driving citations to the state.
District Attorney Phil Koss said investigators uncovered multiple cases without accurate histories of defendants' drunken driving records. Tickets went unreported from January 2006 to March 2010, investigators say.
According to a criminal complaint:
The Elkhorn police clerk told investigators a man arrested for drunken driving told police he was convicted in 2007 in Delavan for first-time drunken driving. However, the conviction didn't show up on state driving records.
The police clerk asked Johnson why the conviction wasn't in state records. He told the clerk he wasn't reporting drunken driving tickets until after fines were paid in full.
According to the division of motor vehicles, all citations should be sent to the state within five working days of them being issued.
In Johnson's office were "piles of paper everywhere and envelopes with checks and cash, which appeared to be payments for citations," according to the complaint.
An accounting firm told Delavan officials that a substantial amount of money was not collected for the citations.