Dane County DA settles federal lawsuit claiming harassment, retaliation

The Dane County District Attorney’s office has settled a federal lawsuit that claimed the prosecutor harassed and retaliated against a former assistant district attorney who ran against him in a primary election in 2016.

The attorney for former ADA Bob Jambois confirmed to News 3 that the case, which claimed District Attorney Ismael Ozanne “initiated a campaign of retaliation and harassment” was settled for $350,000 in front of a federal magistrate judge Wednesday.

#BREAKING: Settlement reached in lawsuit brought by former prosecutor Bob Jambois against @DaneDAOzanne claiming retaliation and harassment. Attorney says agreement is for $350K. pic.twitter.com/pi1riex6mk

— Jessica Arp (@news3jessica) September 13, 2018

Federal Judge William Conley issued a dismissal order Thursday morning indicating a settlement was made.

“I hope this sends a message to Ismael Ozanne that he can’t behave this way. He can’t treat his staff this way. He’s got to treat them with respect,” Jambois told News 3.

Ozanne sent a statement to News 3 saying in part, “This lawsuit settlement assumes no wrongdoing. I continue to maintain that no one in the District Attorney’s Office did anything wrong. I settled this case taking into consideration, first and foremost, the best interest of our community, Wisconsin taxpayers and the operation of my office.”

Attorney Bob Gingras said Jambois agreed to the settlement because he “believes his First Amendment rights have been completely vindicated by this agreement.”

“He did not bring this case for the money, he brought it for the principle that stands behind our First Amendment,” Gingras said. “He believed his rights were violated and he wanted those rights to be resurrected and vindicated.”

Documents initially filed in the case indicate that Jambois was assigned a “crushing caseload” of 31 trials in two months, which forced Jambois to retire from the office.

Dane County DA settles federal lawsuit claiming harassment, retaliation

That followed Jambois, a former Kenosha County District Attorney, running in a primary for District Attorney against Ozanne in 2016. During the campaign Jambois said Ozanne was “not a capable manager.” Ozanne followed up those allegations by publicly saying Jambois was “starting his campaign with lies.”

Ozanne ultimately won the race for DA with 73 percent of the vote in Dane County.

Under the settlement, neither the district attorney nor employees of his office accept any responsibility for wrongdoing in the case, Gingras said.

Asked if there is concern about any retaliation or harassment continuing in the office, Gingras said Jambois felt the settlement may affect future behavior.

“That has always been a concern of Bob’s, and that’s another reason why he accepted this settlement, because it’s hard to believe that this type of money won’t have a deterrent effect,” Gingras said.