Court Watch

Voter’s Choice, Burns vs. Dallet

Two Supreme Court candidates answer questions, but Screnock declines.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Jan 19th, 2018 02:58 pm
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Tim Burns and Rebecca Dallet

Tim Burns and Rebecca Dallet

Having trouble deciding who to support in the coming Supreme Court election? Maybe we can help.

The Wisconsin Justice Initiative asked all three candidates – Madison attorney Tim Burns, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet, and Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock – to fill out applications for the job. The forms are very similar to the ones the state uses when Gov. Scott Walker is looking to fill a circuit court vacancy. WJI’s version is modified a bit to make them a bit shorter and to protect the privacy of candidates’ families.

The WJI application included 42 questions in 10 major areas. You can review the blank application here.

Dallet provided an application; Burns did, too, but did not answer all of the questions and did not closely follow the application format.

Screnock did not respond. WJI profiled him earlier, however, in our “Walker’s judges” series. You can read that here.

The Burns and Dallet responses are below. Additional information from Dallet is in the bottom “Additional questions and answers from the application” section” in her response.

Dallet’s original submission is here; Burns’ is here. Dallet’s resume is here; Burns did not submit one.

This is not an endorsement of any candidate. This is simply an effort to provide information that voters might find useful as they decide which candidate they think is best.

The primary election is Feb. 20; the general election is April 3.

Wisconsin Justice Initiative  Application for Supreme Court Justice

Tim Burns. Photo courtesy of Burns for Wisconsin.

Tim Burns. Photo courtesy of Burns for Wisconsin.

APPLICATION FOR THE SUPREME COURT

I. GENERAL 

Name: Tim Burns

I am currently a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Madison and licensed in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri. My national practice has been focused on making insurance companies live up to their promises to their policyholders.

My wife and I have chosen Middleton to raise our family. Pam and I have been married for over twenty years and have three children.

II. EDUCATION 

I received a B.A. in History from Weber State University and a J.D. from the University of Missouri Columbia in 1991. I attended law school on a full academic scholarship. I was on the editorial board of the Missouri Law Review.

III. MILITARY SERVICE

IV. PROFESSIONAL ADMISSIONS

(See “General” above.)

V. LEGAL EMPLOYMENT

I’m not a lawyer’s kid. I am the grandson of Mississippi sharecroppers. My father was forced out of school by poverty in the fifth grade. My mother in the tenth grade, but I grew up in a time when a minimum wage job could still support a family. Public education and public libraries built by the broad middle-class economy of my childhood gave me the opportunity to become a successful attorney.

I was one of the handful of graduating law students chosen for a prestigious clerkship with a judge on the United States Court of Appeals. Accordingly, I’m the only candidate with experience working on an appellate court. I also have both prosecuted and defended criminal cases, but my experience starts there, it doesn’t end there.

I’ve built a national practice as one of America’s leading attorneys in standing up to massive insurance companies. I have been hired by major businesses in three dozen states and ten foreign countries to handle their most sensitive liability and insurance issues, but I’ve also represented regular working people in class actions seeking to hold insurance companies accountable for financial fraud. Today, it is my experience that is most needed on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I know how to hold massive corporations in check because I know how they work, inside and out.

VI. PRIOR JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

VII: PREVIOUS PARTISAN OR NON-PARTISAN POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

I’m a first-time candidate, but a longtime Democratic donor. I have previously made financial contributions to candidates such as Senator Baldwin, Senator Feingold, Congressman Pocan, Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton, President Obama, Senator Kerry and Vice President Gore. I serve as a national board member for the American Constitution Society, a progressive lawyer organization focused on constitutional issues.

VIII: HONORS, PUBLICATIONS, AND PROFESSIONAL AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

I’ve written dozens of articles on insurance litigation and I have co-authored two books on the subject. For the past several years, Chambers USA has listed me as one of the top 25 attorneys in my field.

I’ve chaired several committees for the American Bar Association, including the ADR Task Force, the Fair and Impartial Courts Committee and the Insurance Coverage Litigation Coverage Committee. I’m a member of the American Law Institute. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been teaching the board members of many American businesses at Stanford University’s Directors College and the Director Consortium of Stanford’s Law School, the University of Chicago and Dartmouth University.

I’ve done various pro-bono work over the course of my career, including handling trial court proceedings in what began as a capital murder case and initially authoring the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules petition in 2010 to raise the hourly rate for court-appointed attorneys defending indigent clients. I’ll also will never forget the days I spent in Florida leading a legal team and interviewing voters who had difficulty voting in the 2000 Presidential election.

IX. FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT

X. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

I’m running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court for five reasons:

First, in the span of my adulthood, equal opportunity for the children of people who struggle has disappeared in our country. It has been replaced by a system where most new income and wealth goes to the top 1% and everyone else works longer and harder for less and less. The inequity is astounding, and our rubber stamp Wisconsin Supreme Court is part of the problem. Governor Walker’s Act 10 is a perfect example. It has had a negative impact on teachers and public employees across the state. The courts are the final authority in this country, and ours has been bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers and WMC. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is looking out for corporations and special interests while leaving the rest of us behind.

Second, our courts, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court, have sat by, and in many cases assisted, the destruction of our broad middle-class economy by allowing corporate power and wealth to become too concentrated in this country and by undermining the major components of a strong middle-class economy: workers’ rights and worker unions, small farms, small businesses, public education, and vibrant diverse communities. One needs to look no further than the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision upholding Act 10 to understand the dangers that a right wing, rubber-stamp judiciary poses to a middle class economy and a democracy. MTI’s victory in the Dane County Circuit court was the right decision.

Third, I’m running because this is the Court that upheld a photo ID law that cost Hillary Clinton Wisconsin’s electoral votes. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s, every major political decision in this country sooner or later finds its way into the courts. If we don’t take back the courts, we will never truly get our state back to its best traditions.

Fourth, I’m running because Trump is packing our federal courts with extreme rightwing judges, and the Senate is confirming them at a rapid pace. We can no longer count on the federal courts to protect our basic rights, such as the right to vote, workers’ rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and reproductive rights. Increasingly, we will need to turn to state courts, like the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for such protections. I will be a justice who protects those rights.

I’m the progressive Democrat in this race. Before being appointed to the bench by Governor Walker in 2014, Judge Screnock worked as an attorney to create the current Gerrymandered legislative maps, he helped defend Act 10 in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, helped defend the Republican senators during the recall, and was twice arrested for protesting outside an abortion clinic – a decision that as an adult, he does not regret. It is clear he is just as extreme as his judicial hero, Justice Scalia. My other opponent, Judge Dallet, endorsed Chief Justice Roggensack her 2013 race against Ed Fallone. A study conducted by Gannet News/USA Today Network showed that Judge Dallet is one of the three harshest sentencers in the state. As a father of three children of color, I find her ruling in Wisconsin v. Ryan Erik Diggins extremely offensive. Individuals should not be subject to search because they are a person of color standing in a public location for five minutes. Wisconsin is the epicenter of mass incarceration in this country, we now spend more on the Department of Corrections than we do the University of Wisconsin System, and Judge Dallet is part of the problem

In one page or less, name one of the best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way.

One of the best Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions in the past thirty years was the opinion of the Court in State vs. Dubose, 272 Wis. 856 (2005). There, the Wisconsin Supreme Court truly acted as independent branch of government and a great protector of the rights of Wisconsinites to a fair trial. Our Supreme Court overturned a trail court’s decision denying a criminal defendant’s motion to suppress unnecessarily suggestive out-of-court identification evidence. In doing so, the Court refused to interpret provisions in the Wisconsin Constitution in lockstep with the United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of similar provisions of the federal Constitution. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recognized that in post-Warren Court decisions, the United States Supreme Court has become less protective of the due process rights of criminal defendants with respect to witness identification evidence, despite the fact that, at the same time, modern scientific studies have shown greater and greater problems with the reliability of such evidence. Thinking for itself, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected the approach of what had become a more rightwing United States Supreme Court in favor of the earlier Warren Court approach. With Donald Trump currently packing our federal courts with rightwing ideologues, State vs. Dubose offers a good example of how Wisconsin courts can continue to protect the rights of Wisconsinites.

In one page or less, name one of the worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court decision upholding Act 10 is one of the worst decisions in the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s history. There are many, many problems with the Court’s decision, and some of those problems are laid out in the dissent. But, in my view, the biggest problem with the decision is one that concerns the role of courts in our democracy. Courts are an independent branch of government and have an obligation to protect our democracy from intrusions by other branches of our government. Act 10 was a blatant attack on two of the cornerstones of a middle-class economy, which is a precondition to a thriving democracy in this country: workers unions and public education. Although courts should give deference to the other branches with respect to ordinary economic legislation, when the other branches act in a way that harms our democratic processes and in a way that our democratic processes are not likely to readily fix, our courts must act like an independent branch of government and overturn the law that weakens our democracy. See United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 at note 4 (1938).

In one page or less, describe your judicial philosophy. 

The courts are a branch of government and they have the final say in whether our collective efforts to govern ourselves are permissible.

In order for our democracy to work though, courts have to give deference to the other branches with respect to ordinary economic legislation. For example, our courts should not invalidate a tax law because the court thinks the tax rate should be 10% while the legislature thinks it should be 15%.

There are circumstances though in which courts must act to check the legislative and executive branches.

First, if laws are passed or executive action taken that prevent the ordinary democratic process from correcting the laws, courts should intervene. For example, a law gerrymandering legislative districts in a manner inconsistent with the one person, one vote principle is very difficult to fix through the ordinary democratic process, so courts should intervene. Similarly, we cannot have a thriving democracy without a broad and strong middle-class. Courts are the third branch of government and have an independent duty to protect that middle-class economy by making sure that the other branches do not harm the cornerstones of that middle-class—worker movements, small farms, small businesses, public education, and thriving diverse communities.

Courts also have an obligation to ensure that vulnerable groups and individuals without real political power are not harmed by the other branches of government. Courts have an obligation to ensure a level playing field, and they have an obligation to strive for more than just equality. Progressive courts can ensure equity, which is one of the largest challenges facing public education today.

Describe any other information you feel would be helpful to your application

I believe that judicial candidates should be accountable to voters. Historically, candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court pledge their impartiality, rack up hundreds of endorsers from both sides of the aisle and never discuss any of the issues facing our state. Candidates were hesitant to speak out on their beliefs and values due to Wisconsin’s Code of Judicial Conduct. However, that judicial code of conduct was effectively gutted by a U.S. Supreme Court case, Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, which states that not only are judicial candidates able to speak on political and legal issues of the day, they are encouraged to do so in order to inform and engage voters. As we have seen time and time again in races across the country, we have to offer positive alternatives to appeal to voters. My campaign is built around a message of economic populism, protecting those who are most vulnerable in our state and battling back against special interests and concentrated wealth.

Rebecca Dallet. Photo courtesy of Dallet for Justice.

Rebecca Dallet. Photo courtesy of Dallet for Justice.

Wisconsin Justice Initiative  Application for Supreme Court Justice

APPLICATION FOR THE SUPREME COURT 

I. GENERAL

Name: Rebecca Dallet

Date admitted to practice law in Wisconsin: 09/20/1994

Current employer and title: Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge

Residential municipality: Whitefish Bay 
Length of time at this residence:
 16 years

Spouse’s name: Brad Dallet
Spouse’s occupation: Attorney
(See also “More questions and answers from the application” below)

II. EDUCATION 

School: Ohio State University
Dates Attended: 1987-1991
Degrees Earned and GPA: BA (GPA 3.87)
School: Case Western Reserve University Law School
Dates Attended: 1991-1994
Degrees Earned and GPA: JD (GPA 3.92)

  • Full tuition merit scholarship to Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Contributing Editor for Case Western Reserve Law Review
  • Graduated Case Western Law School summa cum laude with class rank of 6/185
  • Member Order of the Coif
  • Member  Public Interest Law Society
  • Member Jewish Law Students’ Society
  • Merit Scholarship to The Ohio State University Graduated The Ohio State University summa cum laude with honors
  • Member Phi Beta Kappa
  • Membership Director Alpha Xi Delta

III. MILITARY SERVICE – N/A

IV. PROFESSIONAL ADMISSIONS

Court or administrative body: Wisconsin State Bar
Date of admission: 9/20/1994

Court or administrative body: Eastern District of Wisconsin
Date of admission: 12/20/1999

V. LEGAL EMPLOYMENT

Date: 2008 – present
Position: Circuit court judge
Employer: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Date: 2007 – 2008
Position: Presiding court commissioner
Employer: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Date: 2006 – 2008
Position: Adjunct professor
Employer: Marquette University Law School

Date: 1999 – 2002
Position: Special assistant district attorney
Employer: United States Attorney’s Office

Date: 1996 – 1999, 2002  -2007,  and Summer  1994
Position: Assistant district attorney
Employer: Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office

Date: 1994 – 1996
Position: Judicial clerk
Employer: United States Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein

Date:  1992-1994
Position: LEXIS student representative
Employer: Case Western Reserve Law School

Date: Summer 1993
Position:  Law clerk
Employer: Calfee, Halter and Griswold
(See also “More questions and answers from the application” below)

VI. PRIOR JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

Dates: 2008 – Present
Name of Agency/Court: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Position held: Judge

Dates: 2007 –2008
Name of Agency/Court: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Position held: Presiding court commissioner

Number and nature of cases:

Over the last decade, I have presided over more than 10,000 cases and 236 jury trials in a wide range of areas from domestic violence and misdemeanor court, to homicide and drug court, and civil and small claims court.
(See also “More questions and answers from the application” below)

VII: PREVIOUS PARTISAN OR NON-PARTISAN POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 40

  • Election Date: 4/1/2014; Results: won 98.87% of the vote
  • Election Date: 4/1/2008; Results: won 66.88% of the vote

Have you ever held a position or played a role in a judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization?

Yes, I worked on the successful campaign for Attorney General for Senator Lee Fisher (D) in Ohio in 1990.

All judicial or non-partisan candidates publicly endorsed during the last six years.

Jill Karofsky for Dane County Circuit Court (2017); Scott Wales for Milwaukee County Circuit Court (2017); Michelle Havas for Milwaukee County Circuit Court (2016); Ann Walsh Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court (2015); Patience Roggensack for Wisconsin Supreme Court (2013); Lindsey Grady for Milwaukee County Circuit Court (2012)

VIII: HONORS, PUBLICATIONS, AND PROFESSIONAL AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

Publications: Contributing author and editor of Wisconsin Criminal Jury Trial Instructions (2009-present); “Foucha v. Louisiana: The Danger of Commitment Based on Dangerousness” 44 Case W. Res. I. Rev. 157 (1993); “Taking the Ammunition Away from the ‘War on Drugs:’ A Double Jeopardy Bar to 21 U.S.C section 881 after Austin v. United States,” 44 Case W. Res. I. Rev. 157 (1993).

Awards, honors: Dallet award for serving youth at Congregation Shalom (2014);  Women in the Law Honoree (2012); White House Leadership Project Women Rule! Recipient (2008); Pasch Meritorious Service Award (2005)

Pro bono work: I am prohibited from doing pro bono legal work because I am a sitting judge. However, I have been an active volunteer in my community for years. I have mentored law students almost every semester that I have been on the bench.
(See also “More questions and answers from the application” below)

IX. FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT

(See  “More questions and answers from the application” below)

X. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Explain in one page or less why you want to become a justice.

Our State Supreme Court is broken and dysfunctional. Our values are under attack. Civil rights are threatened, and equal protection under the law is in question. Working people have lost basic protections,  and threats to women lead the headlines. Our expectations for clean air and water are endangered.

Judges are challenged every single day: to weigh the facts, examine the evidence and deliver a decision. With so much at stake here in Wisconsin, inexperience is not an option if we want to protect our values at the highest level. I am the candidate with the most and best experience in the courtroom.

I was raised by a single mom, and today, my husband and I are raising three daughters. I think about their future every single day, and the kind of Wisconsin I want for them. We’ve seen a state that bends to the whims of special interests.

I’d rather live in a Wisconsin where every person has an opportunity to thrive, where our values are advanced and protected in our highest court, and where every citizen is treated equally under the law. I especially want a Wisconsin where little girls know they won’t be held back regardless of what the President does or tweets.

We need someone who knows how to do the job on day one and someone who understands the challenges we are facing. I am that candidate. That’s why I’ve earned the support of more than 340 judges and elected officials across the state.

 In one page or less, name one of the best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way. 

Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)

One way the Supreme Court helps to advance justice is to recognize when society has made leaps in extending the protections of civil society to groups that have previously been discriminated against and clarifies law and constitutional application to ensure equal protection under the law. This was the case when the United States Supreme Court ensured that “separate but equal” no longer met constitutional muster when it decided Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. This was the case when a series of decision in the 1950s ensured districts were of equal voting population. And this was the case when the Court decided that the Constitution no longer accepted treating lesbian and gay people differently when it came to basic rights such as marriage.

In one page or less, name one of the worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way. 

One of the worst cases to come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was the John Doe II decision. Corporate special interests are spending massive amounts to buy judges on the court to serve their interests, not the interests of the citizens of Wisconsin.

Right now, justices do not have to recuse themselves from cases involving a conflict of interest. If one of their campaign mega-donors or former clients has a case in front of the Supreme Court, Justices aren’t required to recuse themselves. And they fight against transparency at every level.

This is what we saw in the John Doe II investigation: Justices Gableman and Prosser refused to recuse themselves. There was a clear conflict of interest. They benefited from millions in campaign contributions, and they ruled to shut down the investigation into coordination with special interest money and politics.

We should all care about the coordination of special interest money with politics. No one should be allowed to purchase justice. The face that the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down the John Doe investigation was a complete abomination. Special interest money should not be allowed to influence our courtrooms.

In one page or less, describe your judicial philosophy. 

I made a decision early on in my career that I wanted to help people, work for those who need their voices heard and who need justice – and not work to represent the interests of corporate clients. That’s why I entered public service. I know what it’s like to work day in and day out in our courtrooms. I see the challenges our neighbors face: moms like me working two jobs, but still not able to make ends meet; families losing their homes when someone gets sick and the medical bills stack up; victims of violent crime, especially in our poorest neighborhoods, struggling to find a way as guns and drugs devastate their community. And I see neighbors trying to get their lives back on track, but stuck in a criminal justice system that needs reform. Over the years, I’ve admired Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s career on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and believe we share a commitment to eliminating special interests and partisan politics in our courtrooms. As the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has always been a role model paving the way for women in our judicial system.

Describe any other information you feel would be helpful to your application. 

I hope that you will join me by supporting our campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Together, we can take experience to the Supreme Court, to protect our values, advocate for victims, and stand up for our fundamental rights.

Additional questions and answers from the application.

I. GENERAL

Work address: Milwaukee County Courthouse, 901 N. 9th St, Room 403
Milwaukee, WI 53223

All previous (home) residences for the past ten years: none

Place of birth: Cleveland, Ohio

Are you a registered voter at your current address? Yes

13. Answer yes or no to the following questions. Explain any affirmative answers.

a) Do you currently have a physical or mental impairment that in any way limits your ability or fitness to properly exercise your duties as a member of the judiciary in a competent and professional manner?

Yes    No X

b) In the past 10 years, have you unlawfully used controlled substances as defined by federal or state laws? Unlawful use includes the use of one or more drugs and/or the unlawful possession or distribution of drugs. It does not include the use of drugs that were prescribed to you and taken under lawful supervision of a licensed healthcare professional. 

Yes    No X

c) Since leaving high school, have you, for other than academic reasons, ever been denied enrollment, disciplined, denied course credit,suspended, expelled, or requested to terminate your enrollment by any college, university, law school, or other educational institution? 

Yes    No X

d) Have you failed to meet any deadline imposed by court order or received notice that you have not complied with substantive requirements of any contractual arrangement?

Yes    No X

e) Have you ever been held in contempt or otherwise formally reprimanded or sanctioned by a tribunal before which you have appeared?

Yes    No X

f) Are you delinquent in your mandatory continuing legal education? 

Yes    No X

g) Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit either as a plaintiff or as a defendant? If yes, please supply the jurisdiction and/or County, case number,    nature of lawsuit, whether you were the plaintiff or defendant, and disposition of each lawsuit. 

Yes    No X

h) Has there ever been a formal complaint filed against you, a finding of probable cause, citation, or conviction issued against you, or are you presently under investigation by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, the Office of Lawyer Regulation, or any other state or federal equivalent, or any court, administrative agency, Bar Association, or other professional group, in any jurisdiction? 

Yes X   No     

I received one letter dated January 6, 2012, from the Judicial Commission informing me of a complaint that was dismissed upon initial review.

i) If you are a quasi-judicial officer, have you ever been disciplined or reprimanded by a sitting judge? 

Yes    No X

 j) In the past five years, have you ever been cited for a municipal or traffic violation, excluding parking tickets? 

Yes X  No   

l) Have you ever failed to timely file your federal or state income tax returns? 

Yes    No X

m) Have you ever paid a tax penalty?

Yes    No X

n) Has a tax lien ever been filed against you? 

Yes    No X

o) Have you ever filed a personal petition in bankruptcy or has a petition in bankruptcy been filed against you? 

Yes    No X

p) Have you ever owned more than 10% of the issued and outstanding shares or acted as an officer or director, of any corporation in which or against which a petition in bankruptcy has been filed? 

Yes    No X

IV. PROFESSIONAL ADMISSIONS

Legal employment

Describe your legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, and administrative proceedings. 

From 1996-2007 when I became a judicial officer, I was an advocate in criminal litigation as detailed above. I have spent almost every day of my legal career in a courtroom.

What percentage of your legal career has been in:

Court:
Federal appellate – 2%
Federal trial – 13%
Federal other – 0%
State appellate – 2%
State trial – 83%
State administrative – 0%
State other – 0%
Total – 100%

Area of practice:
Civil – 35%
Criminal – 65%
Family – 0%
Probate – 0%
Other – 0%
Total – 100%

In your career, how many cases have you tried that resulted in a verdict or judgment?

Jury – 75
Non-jury – thousands
Arbitration –
Administrative bodies –

How many cases have you litigated on appeal? Please describe, in general terms, your involvement in these cases. In how many cases were you successful? 

As an Assistant District Attorney, I did appellate work in the area of misdemeanors, domestic violence and sexual predator cases. As a Special Assistant United States Attorney, I did criminal appellate work. I believe I prevailed on all of these cases.

Describe the two most significant cases in which you were involved.

State v. Perry Bernal was a significant case in my career. Perry Bernal committed heinous acts of sexual violence that I will always remember. The case involved expert witnesses both for the State and defense and required an understanding of the complex risk-measuring instruments. Mr. Bernal was found to be a sexually violent person and committed to Sand Ridge institution until he passed away in 2013.

During my time as a Special Assistant United States’ Attorney I worked on a case involving the importation of heroin from Thailand into the Eastern District of Wisconsin. We sought and obtained a wiretap.  I sat in on debriefings of witnesses involved in the case and listened in on the wiretap.  It was difficult to obtain the wiretap and reaffirmed for me the importance of the freedoms we hold dear in this country, like our right to privacy.

VI. PRIOR JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

Describe the two most significant cases  you have heard as a judicial officer. Identify the parties, describe the cases, and explain why you believe them to be significant. Provide the trial dates and names of attorneys involved, if possible.

I presided over a case at the forefront of the opioid epidemic involving a 23 year old, Matthew Laughrin, who gave a 15-year-old girl suboxone which, mixed with other drugs she took, killed her (Case: 09CF1131). He saw her in distress before she died and instead of calling for help, called his dad, who helped him drag her to and leave her on a driveway outside to die in the freezing cold. I sentenced the father to prison for child neglect, and Laughrin to 12 years for second degree reckless homicide and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances. This case was especially difficult to preside over as it took place in my neighborhood, involving a girl the age of my daughters who suffered from drug addiction.

Laughrin pled guilty but then asked to withdraw his plea, arguing that his attorney was ineffective for failing to find an expert to say he wasn’t reckless. I found that Laughrin’s attorney was not ineffective and therefore there was no basis to withdraw his plea. The case was appealed and I was affirmed. Laughrin’s attorney was Robin Shellow and the prosecutor was Adam Gerol.

I was at the forefront of the influx of human trafficking cases into the State of Wisconsin, and I used that knowledge to help write the jury instructions now used by judges across the state. The case that stands out to me involved Mario A. Harris (Case: 11CF2966). He trafficked many vulnerable women and girls, and I learned of the horrors of human trafficking: the branding, the hierarchy of the girls, the power and control used by their traffickers, and the lingo used which include animal terms to refer to the victims. I presided over his jury trial after which Harris was convicted on most counts. I sentenced him to 35 years in prison and denied his postconviction motion. The case is currently  on appeal.

Also challenging in the Harris case was Harris’ behavior. He would not cooperate with his attorney and wanted to represent himself. I allowed him to do so and he refused to come into the courtroom. Standby counsel proceeded on his behalf until he threatened standby counsel, and I had to declare a mistrial. We conducted a second trial with Russell Jones as his attorney. The prosecutor was Sara Lewis.

VIII: HONORS, PUBLICATIONS, AND PROFESSIONAL AND OTHER ACTIVITIES:

Bar associations and professional societies, including offices

Wisconsin Judicial College associate dean (2016-present)

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction Committee member (2016-present)

Association of Women Lawyers,
secretary (2016-2018), member (2006- present)

Milwaukee Trial Judges Association
president (2015- present), vice president (2013-2015), secretary (2012-2013), Board of Directors (2011-2012)

Thomas E. Fairchild American Inns of Court
Ex Officio director (2013- present), member (2006- present)

Supreme Court Judicial Education Committee (2009-2013)

Milwaukee Bar Association (2006-present)

Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association Ex Officio director (2013-present)
Member (2006-present)

Milwaukee Young Lawyers Association Programming co-chair (1995-1996)
Member (1994-1999)

Additional involvement in professional or civic organizations, volunteer activities, service in a church or synagogue, or any other activities or hobbies that could be relevant or helpful to consideration of your application. 

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges – Faculty (2013-present)

Criminal Law and Evidence Workshops – Faculty (2013)

Violence Against Women Act Justice System Training – Advisory Committee (2013)

Wisconsin State Bar Association Young Lawyers Leadership Conference- Panelist (2013)

Association for Women Lawyers Conference “Get Your Gavel”- Panelist (2013)

Joint Legislative Council Special Committee on Supervised Release and Discharge of Sexually Violent Persons- Public member (2013)

Volunteer, Pearls for Teen Girls (2010-2012)

Volunteer, Wisconsin Humane Society (2010-2012)

Women’s Court and Civic Conference of the Greater Milwaukee Area – Keynote speaker (2009)

Congregation Shalom, Milwaukee- Board of Directors (1996-2000), youth advisor/director (1995-2013), eighth grade Sunday school teacher (1997-2005)

Jewish Community Federation, Milwaukee- Co-chair Weinstein Fellowship Leadership Development (2017-2018), Women’s Philanthropy Committee (2015-present), Kesselman Scholarship Committee (2012-present), Board of Directors (2005-2007)

Joint Legislative Council Special Committee on Sexually Violent Persons Commitment- Public member (2004)

Jewish Beginnings Preschool, Milwaukee- President (2005-2007), Board of Directors (2003-2005)

Courses on law taught, lectures given at bar association conferences, law school forums, or continuing legal education programs. 

I was an Adjunct Professor of Law in Trial Advocacy at Marquette University Law School from 2006 to 2009. I currently serve as the Associate Dean of the Judicial College helping judges across the state sharpen their skills. I teach on the topic of domestic violence to judges around the country as faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. I have appeared on numerous panels and taught many times for Wisconsin Judicial Education. and Marquette University Law School.

Other speeches or lectures.

  • Guest speaker at law and engineering conference at University of Wisconsin on the topic of the vanishing civil jury trial.
  • Keynote speaker at the Women’s Court and Civic Conference

IX: FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT

If you or your spouse are now an officer, director, or otherwise engaged in the management of any business enterprise, state the name of such enterprise, the nature of the business, the nature of your duties, and you or your spouse’s intended involvement upon your appointment or election to judicial office.

No, we are not.

Any business or profession other than the practice of law since being admitted to the Bar.

None.

36. Fees or compensation of any kind, other than for legal services rendered, from any business enterprise, institution, organization, or association of any kind that you have received during the past five years.

None.

41. If you have previously submitted a questionnaire or application to this or any other judicial nominating commission, please give the name of the commission and the approximate date of submission. 

District Court Judge, Eastern District of Wisconsin 2013

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.

Categories: Court Watch, Politics

6 thoughts on “Court Watch: Voter’s Choice, Burns vs. Dallet”

  1. Troll says:

    Asking Democrats if they have military experience. Funny.

  2. PMD says:

    I know plenty of democrats with military experience. They are smart and able to think for themselves and not blinded by bumper sticker patriotism.

  3. Bruce Thompson says:

    Dallet is particularly on target when discussing the John Doe II decision.

  4. Ted Chisholm says:

    Agreed, Bruce. Although I’ll take him over a political crony like Screnock, Burns alarms me with some of his rhetoric. When conservatives run nakedly partisan campaigns that erode public faith in the judiciary, the easy way out for progressives is to follow suit and simply try to turn out more voters. I get the impulse, but we have to resist it. We uphold our state’s progressive tradition by fighting for independent courts, not ones tilted in our direction.

  5. John Casper says:

    Troll,

    I had no idea Trump and Dick Cheney were Democrats. Do you have a link?

    Does George W. Bush’s time in the Air Force reserve during Vietnam qualify as “military experience?”

    How many of the other 16-Republicans who ran for POTUS had combat experience like Robert Mueller?

    Not surprised you’re a big supporter of Chelsea Manning, but she’s not a Republican.

    Was Lincoln the last Republican President to win a war?

  6. John Casper says:

    Ted, many thanks for your comment.

    Federalists–who claim to be “strict constructionists” should agree that it was a mistake not to have tried General Robert E. Lee for treason.

    From Justice R. Bradley’s campaign web site: “The people of Wisconsin are best served by justices who understand and embrace their duty to state what the law is, not what they prefer it to be.”

    What objection could “non-partisan” federalists have to a military tribunal trying a man who deserted his post to lead an armed insurrection against the United States?

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