Brent Kaempf appears with his lawyer, Jeff Jazgar, as he requests a new judge at his arraignment Thursday in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2 for the murder of Patricia “Trish” Waschbisch. <br> EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Brent Kaempf appears with his lawyer, Jeff Jazgar, as he requests a new judge at his arraignment Thursday in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2 for the murder of Patricia “Trish” Waschbisch.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MARINETTE - The arraignment for murder suspect Brent Kaempf has been delayed because he has requested a substitute judge.

Kaempf, 48, Peshtigo, appeared in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2 Thursday morning via videoconference from the Marinette County Jail. His attorney, Jeffrey Jazgar of Green Bay, seated next to him, informed Judge Jim Morrison that his client has requested a substitute judge.

Wisconsin statutes allow a defendant in a criminal case to request one automatic substitution. In a felony case, that request must be made prior to entering a plea, which takes place at the arraignment.

The District Court Administrator of Green Bay will appoint a substitute judge. It's possible that could happen by early next week and the continued arraignment will then be scheduled.

Kaempf is charged with the late April murder of his girlfriend, Patricia "Trish" Waschbisch. He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide by use of a dangerous weapon and is being held in the Marinette County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Waschbisch, 45, a domestic abuse advocate, was stabbed in the neck by Kaempf in the bathroom of the home they shared in Peshtigo late April 27, according to the criminal complaint. She was found the evening of April 28 by her teenage daughter.

Kaempf was located by a Wauwatosa, Wis., police officer in the early morning hours of April 29, the complaint states. He was sleeping in his Mustang outside a closed business and apparently on his way to Illinois, according to the complaint.

Waschbisch was an adult legal advocate and interim director of the Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services in Marinette. She had been with that organization since 2001.

Prior to Kaempf's request for a substitute judge, Jazgar filed a motion that Morrison recuse himself from the case. A judge must recuse him or herself if there is a potential bias or conflict of interest.

Morrison read the grounds cited for that motion, which include Waschbisch having direct contact with the Marinette County court system since 2001 and that she worked on Morrison's campaign when he was running for judge last fall.

Morrison denied the motion for recusal. He listed several reasons.

"At the time that Mr. Kaempf was first involved with this court I stated that Trish Waschbisch, the victim in this case, was well-known to this court and to me personally based on her many years of work," he said.

On May 10, Morrison stated in court, "Because Miss Waschbisch dealt with the court system, obviously, I had an acquaintanceship with her as virtually everybody who dealt with the court system had an acquaintanceship with her. I'll just state that for the record."

The judge Thursday also said he previously stated he may have represented Waschbisch's ex-husband in a divorce matter 10 years ago.

"That conflict was waived at the time," Morrison said, adding that his fairness would not be impacted in any way.

He said Waschbisch's effort in his campaign consisted of her distributing nominating papers - she was one of about 200 people involved in that capacity.

"I do not criticize Mr. Jazgar or Mr. Kaempf for raising these issues now, but I was convinced then and I'm convinced now that these issues would have no impact upon my fairness one way or the other," Morrison said.

Before the request for a substitute judge, Morrison issued an order that assures any proceeds from the sale of a Peshtigo property owned by Kaempf be directed to Marinette County to pay for the defendant's court-appointed "Dean" attorney.