Fox Crossing Municipal Judge Len Kachinsky, who became known nationwide from the docuseries Making a Murderer, stopped short of saying he’d want to fire court clerk Mandy Bartelt after she accused him of stalking.
“If I wanted to terminate the appointment of Ms. Bartelt, the village would do everything in its power probably to try to obstruct it,” he told Law&Crime Network host Misty Marris on Monday, pointing out there’s a resolution to move Bartelt to finance if he fires her as a clerk.
“We’ve got this restraining order in place that says we can’t have any conversations that are not essential to the operation,” he said. “The personal dynamics here are so poor, regardless of her ability to do tasks. Her ability to do the tasks is really pretty good. It would just not be a workable team.”
Marris pressed him on whether he’d fire Bartelt because of the interpersonal relationship, nothing to do with her work performance.
“Well, it would be a classic personality conflict,” he said. “I’m not interested, frankly, on spending a lot of personal funds to fight Fox Crossing if they are going to throw more bureaucratic obstacles at me, so we’ll just have to see what Fox Crossing has to say.”
Bartelt, Kachinsky’s court clerk, accused him of repeatedly stepping over professional lines. Both sides agreed that the relationship started as a mutual friendship, but it disintegrated. She claimed that in one instance, he went over her desk, knocking down some of her possessions, and whispered at her, “Are you afraid now?” She alleged that he kept making personal comments even after village officials established boundaries. The allegations were enough for her to get a restraining order against him. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also suspended him from the bench.
Kachinsky claimed that Bartelt took their interactions and “blew [them] out of proportion.”
He said that if he were reinstated as a judge, then he’d be returning to a “hostile work environment.” He described the relationship between him and Bartelt as broken, and cited her lawsuit against him.
Marris asked Kachinsky for a definitive answer as to whether he’d fire his accuser.
“I’m just saying I’m not sure–I don’t think if I’m going to be back there that it would be a workable relationship for long,” he said.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]