Wales v. Yang, Closing Arguments
They’re getting nasty, dueling over alleged dirty campaigning.
Scott Wales and Kashoua “Kristy” Yang are competing for the Branch 47 judicial seat now held by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John Siefert, who is not seeking re-election. This is the only contested Milwaukee County judicial race this year. Wales and Yang agreed to answer a series of questions from WJI to better inform voters about issues in the race. This is the final question in the series.
This week’s question: Why are you the best choice for the job?
Editor’s note: Scott Wales’ response to Kashoua “Kristy” Yang is at the bottom of his answer.
Kashoua “Kristy” Yang:
Making decisions that could have grave consequences is part of a judge’s job. We want people on the bench who are equipped to ponderously, morally and intellectually make a fair judgment. The responsibility should not be taken lightly. We must elect judges who will instill trust and confidence in the judicial system.
I have demonstrated my aptitude to rise to the demands of serving on the Milwaukee Circuit Court. I possess the qualities required to thoughtfully make judgements and instill that trust and confidence.
Sadly, my opponent has not. He has run a campaign whose hallmark has been specious negative allegations and, more recently, demonstrated a shocking lack of judgement. That was the theft of my domain name by the Wales campaign in August 2016. His campaign registered “Yang for Judge.Com” and then in the last weeks of this campaign revealed a page using that domain name to fallaciously disparage me and my campaign for Branch 47.
It’s a question of not only of lack of judgment but a question of character. His campaign promises “No politics, only good judgment,” yet he has run a campaign of trickery and political deceit. His purchase and use of “Yang for Judge.Com” is not just politics as usual because he did not simply purchase the domain to take it out of the marketplace, rather his ill intent was demonstrated by his use of it. His conduct does very little to instill any amount of trust and confidence in his ability to be a judge who will be fair, impartial, and will decide cases on the merits.
In practice, I have distinguished myself. I have been recognized not only by my clients but by my colleagues and judges for my hard work, and importantly, the quality of my work. For 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, I have been nominated and selected as a Super Lawyer Rising Star. In 2015, I was listed as a Leading Lawyer in the Milwaukee Magazine. I am a family law mediator and have experience being in the role of a neutral third party. Currently, about less than 10% of cases go to trial; my skills as a mediator will serve me well as a circuit court judge. Additionally, I have been recognized by the Milwaukee Bar Association and the Association of Women Lawyers for my pro bono work. After all, it is not the number of years or the quantity but the quality of what we as community members contribute to improving our community. As such, I am not running because I want to retire to the bench; rather, it is because I know I will add value and bring fairness to our circuit courts.
Kristy Yang is the owner of Kashoua Yang, LLC, a law firm that concentrates on family law, family mediation, worker’s compensation, and social security disability. Yang was selected as a Super Lawyer Rising Star for the years 2013-2016.
As a lawyer for almost 30 years and currently a Municipal Judge for the past 8 years, I have a profound and impactful understanding of the Wisconsin Court System and the many ramifications it has on each party, witness, attorney, and judge in criminal and civil matters. Over the past three decades, I have represented several thousand clients, and as a judge since 2009, I have presided over several thousand cases. Throughout both responsibilities, I have learned and continue to absorb the real impact of what due process of the law, equal protection, and respect for the Constitution actually mean. This depth of experience is substantial, qualitative, practiced, and tested.
For example, as a Municipal Judge I always treat every person with respect and never make a predetermined decision about a party’s case outcome until all of the facts are presented. Respectfully, this measured approach has never resulted in anyone filing a complaint to the Judicial Commission. Likewise, as an attorney I truly work “eight days a week” representing mostly low-income clients (i.e. who are primarily people of color) which includes litigating their cases before juries in trials throughout numerous counties in Wisconsin, Illinois, and in Federal Court. In so doing, I am also honored to have received consecutive pro bono award honors in 2011 and 2012, from the Judiciary of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, for service to the court in the representation of the indigent.
To that end, it is gratifying and humbling that more than 80% of the judiciary who have endorsed for Branch 47 has publicly pledged their support. Likewise, as a defense attorney it is especially profound and remarkable that 100% of the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies who have endorsed for the responsibility of Branch 47 have unequivocally endorsed my effort to earn the responsibility of Branch 47 (i.e. these are the same folks I have challenged for the past 30 years).
In closing, I am asking the residents of Milwaukee County to vote for Judge Scott Wales as the next Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge for Branch 47, based on my three decades of established and respected court room experience which is supported by the recognition of my peers. This request is further reinforced by the profound belief that Justice is achievable in every case especially when there is adherence to the requirements of due process and equality for all under the Constitution.
Response to Yang: Julia Lazarski, an honor student at UW-Madison, is not a worthless “pissant” as the Yang Campaign has stated. I stand by Julia’s 100% factually truthful statements. Further, the Yang Campaign never owned or obtained a license for www.yangforjudge.com. Last August, after my opponent spoke of digging up “dirt” we pursued a simple purchase of website names to insulate from the anticipated political sideshow.
Scott Wales has almost 30 years of experience and specializes in criminal law. He also is Fox Point Municipal judge, a post he has held for more than eight years.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”