The campaign for Supreme Court candidate Jennifer Dorow, a Waukesha County judge, is dismissing criticism of the sentence she gave last month to a man who prosecutors say went on to stab his wife's parents.
Dorow on Nov. 30 sentenced Michael Y. Liu, 36, of Oak Creek to four months in the Waukesha County Jail's Huber work-release facility after he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors: battery and criminal damage to property, both as domestic abuse, and contact after a domestic abuse arrest.
He was convicted of punching his wife in the shoulder and smashing his children's iPad.
Dorow gave him two days — until 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 — to report to the work-release facility.
Prosecutors say that instead, Liu traveled on Dec. 1 to Crete, Illinois, a suburb about 35 miles south of Chicago, and stabbed a man and woman in their 60s and fired a gun at their home. He is now being held in an Illinois jail on 16 counts, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party criticized Dorow, a conservative, saying she displayed "poor judgment" that "put a victim of domestic violence and their family in direct danger."
Dorow's campaign said in a statement that she gave Liu double the sentence prosecutors requested — four months instead of two months ― and that the two days she gave him to report to the Huber facility were less than typically given.
The campaign also noted that Liu had no prior criminal record and that he had entered a treatment program voluntarily in August after he was charged.
A letter from a counselor at the program, which is for men who have been abusive in a relationship, noted Liu had “demonstrated a high level of commitment to the treatment process and the prognosis is good," the campaign said.
Liu also received a letter of support from his employer, where he worked full-time as a director of engineering and supervised 15 people, according to court documents.
The campaign also noted that no one at the sentencing hearing requested that Liu be taken into custody immediately.
In deciding to sentence Liu to four months in jail instead of two, Dorow said she wanted to hold him accountable, according to a transcript of the plea and sentencing hearing.
"I want to send a very strong message to you, this behavior is not something society condones," she said. "And despite your lack of prior record, the violence and the fact the most aggregating factor is violence in front of your children demands a swift and stiff response by this court."
Dorow gained widespread recognition for presiding over the trial of Darrell Brooks, now convicted in the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack.
Her entry into the Supreme Court race last week set up a four-way race that will determine the ideological balance of the court. Also in the race is former Justice Daniel Kelly who, like Dorow, will seek the support of conservative voters, and liberal candidates Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell.
The winner will succeed retiring conservative justice Patience Roggensack. With Roggensack on the bench conservatives hold a 4-3 majority on the court.
July domestic disturbance incident in Brookfield
The initial case that prompted the Huber sentence stems from a domestic disturbance call in July to Liu's family home in Brookfield.
According to that complaint:
Liu threw a bag of magnetic blocks across the room, then punched his wife in the shoulder and smashed his children's iPad with a hammer.
The next day, a witness told police that over the phone Liu said something similar to, "I’m going to kill one of the kids and me."
The complaint also states that Liu violated a 72-hour no-contact order in place after the incident. Days later, Liu and his wife filed for divorce.
As part of the plea deal on Nov. 30, five charges were dismissed but read into the record, meaning Dorow could consider them at sentencing: stalking, criminal damage to property and three counts of disorderly conduct, all as domestic abuse.
Dorow also sentenced Liu to two years of probation.
Liu held without bond in Illinois
Prosecutors and police say that Liu targeted his wife's parents in Illinois after receiving the work-release sentence.
The Will County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that Liu fired shots into the home in the direction of the two people but missed them. Then he broke into the home and stabbed the 66-year-old woman several times. The 68-year-old man tried to disarm Liu and was also stabbed.
The sheriff's office said the man then stabbed Liu "an estimated seventeen times."
Liu is now being held at the Will County jail without bond. The 16 charges he faces include two counts of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of aggravated battery and five counts of home invasion, causing injury.
The sheriff's office on Tuesday said the woman had been released from the hospital and the man was in stable condition at a hospital. Liu was charged Tuesday after he was released from the hospital as well.
According to online Wisconsin court records, Dorow revoked Liu's Huber privileges on Dec. 2 because he did not report to the facility on time.
Liu's next hearing in the Illinois case is set for Jan. 5, according to online court records.
Jonathan Lavoy, Liu's attorney in the Wisconsin case, was not immediately available for comment.
Where to find help
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.
The Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee operates a 24-hour confidential hotline at (414) 933-2722.
The Women’s Center in Waukesha has a 24-hour hotline at (262) 542-3828.
We Are Here Milwaukee provides information on culturally specific organizations at weareheremke.org.
The Asha Project, which serves African American women in Milwaukee, provides a crisis line from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (414) 252-0075.
The UMOS Latina Resource Center in Milwaukee offers bilingual, bicultural, domestic violence, sexual assault and anti-human trafficking supportive services and operates a 24-hour hotline at (414) 389-6510.
The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center offers culturally sensitive, trauma-informed services for those who have experienced domestic or sexual violence and can be reached at (414) 383-9526.
Our Peaceful Home, which serves Muslim families and is a program of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, operates a crisis line at (414) 727-1090.
The Hmong American Women’s Association, which serves the Hmong and Southeast Asian community, has advocates available at (414) 930-9352 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin has a statewide directory of resources at endabusewi.org/get-help.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Judge Jennifer Dorow dismisses criticism of sentence for Michael Liu