Mark Jensen is facing his third criminal proceeding for the alleged 1998 anti-freeze murder of his wife, Julie. In 2007 and 2008, former Kenosha DA Robert (Bob) Jambois tried the case as a special prosecutor. Jensen was found guilty, according to Jambois, because of his “excellent lawyering.” After a lengthy appeals process in the Wisconsin state courts and the federal courts, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial. Kenosha Judge Chad Kerkman defied the higher court’s ruling and found Jensen guilty without a trial. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals wouldn’t permit Kerkman’s unprecedented ruling in defiance of the federal court. Therefore, earlier this month, Jensen’s second trial started. Jambois is prosecuting this case again, as special prosecutor.
Jambois was born on February 1, 1952. He moved to Kenosha County in 1974 when he was about 22 years old and attended UW Parkside. He then went to the University of Wisconsin Law School, graduating and entering the Wisconsin bar in 1981. He was hired by the City of Kenosha as an assistant city attorney, prosecuting non-criminal ordinance violations.
In 1989, Jambois was elected as Kenosha’s district attorney. In 2005, Jambois left Kenosha and worked for the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation. He worked as an assistant district attorney in Dane County for one year and now works as an assistant district attorney in Portage County.
KCE has spoken to attorneys and others in the legal community who were around during Jambois’ tenure as DA. Most of them had the same thing to say: “Bob Jambois is a hothead.” KCE did some digging and we quickly found a few examples that would suggest this was true.
When Push Comes to Shove
In 1988, Jambois had never lost an OWI trial. That was, until he tried a case in which criminal defense attorney Robert Sfasciotti represented a defendant. Sfasciotti won the case, marking Jambois’ first OWI trial lost. At the time, Jambois was running to be the Kenosha County DA and had boasted in political ads that he had a 100% record prosecuting OWIs. Attorney Sfasciotti joked at the time, “looks like he’ll have to change the ads!” This comment would later come to haunt Sfasciotti.
Sfasciotti would later oppose Jambois in a criminal matter 11 years into his tenure as DA. Sfasciotti and Jambois were in a preliminary hearing on Thursday, October 20, 2000, in front of Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner Carl Grecco. Sfasciotti’s client was being charged with a domestic related crime, and Jambois added a firearm enhancer to the charge, which Sfasciotti thought was ridiculous because the gun was nonfunctional and in rusty pieces. A verbal altercation began between the prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Jambois yelled “I’ve been taking crap from this weaselly little creep for 12 years now,” and gave Sfasciotti a hard shove. Sfasciotti believes the “12 years” comment was from Jambois’ OWI defeat at the hands of Sfasciotti 12 years prior. Apparently, Jambois held a grudge.
Jambois never faced criminal charges because Sfasciotti didn’t wish to pursue the matter. But that didn’t stop taxpayers from roasting Jambois in letters to the editor. “Robert Jambois and his clique of self-appointed messiahs need to realize that the law applies to them as well as to others” said “Disgusted” in a November 13, 2004, letter to the editor. Another Kenosha taxpayer was upset, saying that his nephew was criminally charged for similar conduct, adding “Now I ask you, is your D.A. exempt from these charges because of his position? My nephew won’t be.” Resident Sonja (McClure) Oliak publicly called for Jambois’ resignation. Jambois didn’t resign.
The Car Horn Debacle
A young man once pulled into the driveway of Bob Jambois’ home. He was there to pick up Bob’s daughter to take her on a date. The man beeped the horn instead of knocking on the door. The kid was a teenager, so maybe he was nervous about meeting the hothead DA in person. This ticked off Jambois. He went outside and told the kid to pop the hood. The kid obliged. Jambois then proceeded to rip the wires that went to the horn out of the car. Jambois learned that the kid didn’t have a valid driver’s license. Did Jambois use his official law enforcement DMV clearance to check the young man’s license status? As likely as it is, we don’t know. He refused to answer our questions. This certainly could have been charged as a criminal act of damage to property.
From Cheeseburger To The County Jail
According to a Kenosha Police report, Jambois went to McDonald’s on Sheridan road for lunch on August 24, 2004. A 40-year-old homeless man named Joseph McGraw was in the restaurant eating a cheeseburger. According to McGraw, a man who he did not know came up to him and called him a “vagrant.” Jambois’ statement to police said that McGraw asked Jambois for the time and asked “could you spare me a buck?” Jambois said he then told the man that it was against the law to panhandle and that Jambois wouldn’t allow that in his community. He then ordered the man out of the restaurant and according to a source the two got physical, and Jambois detained the man, who had been drinking. In Wisconsin, public intoxication is treated as a social ill and is not criminalized. Panhandling has since been declared constitutionally protected free speech. When Kenosha police officers arrived, Jambois ordered them to arrest McGraw and charge him with state disorderly conduct charges. The man was taken to jail and booked. He would never face criminal charges, but he was mailed a $102 municipal ordinance citation for “begging” on October 4, 2004. On March 2, 2005, the Kenosha municipal judge dismissed the charge.
The Kenosha News gave Jambois a “DART” a few days later for “throwing his weight around and having a panhandler who asked him for a buck arrested for disorderly conduct.” The paper called him an “overzealous prosecutor.” Longtime Kenosha News columnist Bill Guida wrote the following about the incident on August 31, 2004: “I don’t know anything about harlotry in Kenosha, but now my eyes are wide open to the danger I unwittingly placed our community in by forking out spare change and an occasional buck to panhandlers. A couple of times I even treated a panhandler to breakfast, never realizing I could have been helping raise the Homeland Security threat level to orange – maybe even red.”
Dane County DA
According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, Jambois applied for a position at the Dane County DA’s office at the urging of the Deputy District Attorney, Tom Fallen, in 2015. He was encouraged to apply because he brought significant trial experience to the the office, which was severely lacking at the time. The Dane County DA’s office did hire Jambois in 2015. Jambois then claimed that he successfully prosecuted several high-profile defendants, while offering successful mentorship and tutelage to younger trial attorneys. Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne denied all of these claims in court, including that Jambois secured a conviction in the Jensen case because of “excellent lawyering.”
In 2016, Jambois ran against Ozanne, and lost. Jambois sued Ozanne in 2017, claiming he was treated unfairly after the election, and the case settled. The Dane County DA is refusing to hand over the settlement documents to KCE. The Wisconsin DOJ is reviewing this denial.
Interesting Prosecution Team
KCE has received no fewer than a dozen questions about two of the three women assisting the prosecution. Deputy District Attorney Carli McNeill is an experienced prosecutor. Nothing suspicious there. But Jambois’ wife Beverly Jambois and good friend, Joyce Erickson, were introduced to the jury many times. Jambois introduce Beverly as “Public Service Special Prosecutor.” If you don’t recognize that title, you are not alone. Neither does the Kenosha County legal community. Beverly’s publicly available curriculum vitae mentions zero experience as a prosecutor. Even more strange, Jambois introduced local democrat activist Joyce Erickson as a “jury expert.” We could find no one within the legal community with any knowledge that Erickson is a “jury expert.” Erickson is very vocal on social media and likes to attack conservatives. We do know that Erickson and Beverly were paid activists that lobbied in favor of a Kenosha casino and for an indoor smoking ban with the “Tobacco Free Coalition” and KIND, “Kenoshans Initiative for Non-Smoking Dining.” Erickson is good friends with Bob and Beverly, sometimes hosting them at her home. KCE has not yet learned if the County or State is footing the bill for the two women’s services, that seem unnecessary, but we will continue to dig.
On January 11, 2023, the third day of trial, Jambois screamed at Judge Milisauskas. Jambois ran against Milisauskas for Judge in 2005. Jambois lost to Milisauskas, and many in Kenosha believe it was due to Jambois’ off-the-rails behavior. I was ready for this type of behavior, as seen above. There are possibly three weeks left of this trial. For the betterment of the community, let’s hope Jambois can contain his hot temper.