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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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August 14, 2022

6/1/2022 4:52:00 PM
CLARIFICATION: Tourist rooming house story and Our View

An article and Our View in the May 20 edition incorrectly asserted that Oneida County judge Michael Bloom had "backed up the county" in its citing of people for advertising tourist rooming houses for fewer than seven consecutive days, whether they actually rented or not, by "finding a Rhinelander resident guilty based only on the advertising."

In fact, judge Bloom has never made a judgment in a contested case of that nature.

The newspaper's assertion was based on an incorrect reading of the Wisconsin circuit court database. The database reports that the person, who was cited based on the advertising, "was found guilty of the following charge(s) in this case," was "guilty due to no contest" and that a "dispositional order/judgment" was entered in judge Bloom's court.

However, those court entries are misleading. According to Wisconsin's statutes governing options for ordinance violations, "if the alleged violator makes a cash deposit and fails to appear in court, the citation may serve as the initial pleading and the violator shall be considered to have tendered a plea of no contest and submitted to a forfeiture, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814, not exceeding the amount of the deposit."

In this case, the violator paid the fine the morning of the court date, the judge explained to the newspaper this past week, and the court case was dropped from the docket before it ever got to Bloom, with a guilty judgment automatically entered by default, as is procedure.

As such, there was no court appearance - the violator was considered guilty by default, or, as the online database put it, was "found guilty" - and judge Bloom did not back up the county's position.

The Times regrets the error.

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