Not to be content with mounting failures of the Evers’ Administration, there are signs that all is not well within the Attorney General’s Department of Justice, either. This story leads off today’s Key Reads.

Kaul’s Crime Lab Failures | The Center Square

 A new audit raises questions as to whether Wisconsin’s attorney general will be able to meet a new state requirement to get sexual assault kits tested within six months.

The Legislative Audit Bureau released its new report on the state’s crime recently, saying there are fewer requests for sexual assault DNA kits at the crime labs, but it is taking the labs longer to process each kit.

“The median turnaround time to complete assignments created in a given fiscal year increased by 48.7 percent,” the auditors wrote. “We calculated an overall median turnaround time for all units, in part, because DOJ indicated its goal is to have an overall median turnaround time of 60 days.”

A state law, that went into effect Monday, requires the state’s crime labs to be able to turn around those tests in no more than six months.

The audit questions whether that can happen.

“2023 Wisconsin Act 58, which takes effect in July 2024, requires sexual assault kits to be processed within six months, or within 60 days if a victim reports a sexual assault to a law enforcement agency, the perpetrator’s identity is unknown, and a public safety threat exists. We recommend DOJ ensure the kits are processed within the deadlines required by Act 58,” the report added.

The audit also noted Wisconsin’s crime labs are sending their DNA kits out to be tested at private labs.

“With more than 97% of kits that were processed by outside labs taking more than six months to complete, it’s going to be difficult for DOJ to meet their upcoming statutory obligations,” Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, said after the audit was released. “The delays in testing, along with the choice to send many tests to outside labs in the first place, goes against the spirit and language of Acts 116 and 58. This is despite the additional funding and positions that DOJ has received in recent budgets.”

Cowles also said he’s concerned that the crime labs are not focusing enough on crime and crime victims.

“Everyone should be able to agree that survivors of sexual assault need to be supported by the criminal justice system, and that offenders of these heinous crimes do indeed represent a threat to public safety,” Cowles added.

The audit recommends 16 specific changes for the state’s crime labs, including filling open jobs, “modify” the use of private labs for certain tests and improve the labs’ timeliness. The LAB asked for an update from the DOJ and its labs by Sept. 30.

We’re one step closer to having a new leader of the state’s public technical colleges.

Wisconsin Technical College System names finalists in presidential search | WKOW

The Wisconsin Technical College System Board has narrowed its search for the system’s next president down to two candidates…Robert Griggs and Layla Merrifield are finalists for the job. 

Griggs is currently the president of Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s held that position for eight years. Before that, he worked for 16 years at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College in Minnesota. 

Layla Merrifield has been the executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association since 2015. 

The liberal activist majority on the State Supreme Court is not waiting for lower courts to adjudicate abortion-related lawsuits.

Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees to hear 2 high profile abortion lawsuits | WPR

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has accepted two high profile abortion lawsuits, one asserting the state constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion and another challenging a pre-Civil War law that was for years thought to ban the procedure.

The lawsuits were filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and deal with separate legal questions, both of which arose after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections on June 24, 2022.

…The Planned Parenthood lawsuit before the court has been described by anti-abortion groups as “the most concerning,” because if the court’s majority finds the Wisconsin Constitution protects a woman’s right to medical abortion services, it could open the door to future lawsuits striking down abortion restrictions.

Those include an existing ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a 24-hour waiting period after a woman’s first visit with a physician before receiving abortion services or medications and a mandatory ultrasound prior to abortion procedures. 

…Justice Rebecca Bradley claimed the liberal majority is attempting to remove the issue of abortion “from the Democratic process,” which “shows grave disrespect for the People’s sovereignty.” 

…Bradley and Ziegler accused liberals, including Justice Janet Protasiewicz, of prejudging the case. Abortion rights were a centerpiece of Protasiewicz’s successful campaign against former conservative Justice Dan Kelly last year.

“Janet Protasiewicz riddled her campaign rhetoric with innuendos about her ‘values’ on abortion, gesturing to her financial supporters how she would rule on abortion related cases,” Bradley wrote.

Many Wisconsinites will be enjoying a four-day weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July. Weather permitting, there will be hundreds of community celebrations across the state from which to choose.

Fourth of July Festivities Across Wisconsin | Dairyland Sentinel

Throughout this week, from Ashalnd to Wauwatosa, there’s ample opportunity for family fun and fireworks, as this list of 4th of July festivities across Wisconsin proves!

Wisconsin’s Fourth of July celebrations are as vibrant and exciting as any across the nation.

Most Wisconsinites celebrate this day with patriotic pride, gratitude for their country’s heritage, and a sense of unity as we come together to commemorate the birth of this nation.

The Fourth of July is a time for reflection the principles of liberty.

We do so while enjoying fireworks, family gatherings, and community events.

Check out this list, courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Barring any unexpected political fireworks or other major news developments, this will be our last Key Reads until Monday.

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy Independence Day!