"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Robert S. Repischak
Appointed to: Racine County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Feb. 23, 2017 (up for election in spring, 2019).
Law School – Hamline University
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
High School – Martin Luther High School, Greendale
1998 - present – Racine County assistant district attorney
2001 - present – Town of Norway, municipal prosecutor
2015 - present – Town of Dover, municipal prosecutor
State Bar of Wisconsin
Eastern District of Wisconsin
Western District of Wisconsin
Racine County Bar Association
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: While in private practice I litigated a number of small and large claim actions. I litigated both on behalf of plaintiffs as well as defendants. I also litigated a number of family court actions. I have also participated in U.S. Bankruptcy Court actions, litigating matters concerning preferential transfers, etc.
The vast majority of my litigation experience, however, has occurred as an Assistant District Attorney. In that role, I have litigated between 90 and 100 cases, ranging from simple traffic matters and misdemeanors, to sexual assaults (child and adult victims), robberies, burglaries and homicides. I have also litigated collateral civil actions, such as forfeiture claims that resulted from controlled substance violations.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 90-100; non-jury, approximately six.
Cases on appeal: NA
List and describe the three most significant cases in which you were involved:
1. State v. Gary Becker – I was the prosecutor for this case. This matter involved the then-mayor of the City of Racine. The defendant was engaging in online chats with what he thought was a 14 year old female. He agreed to meet her for sexual purposes. Upon arriving at the prearranged meeting spot, he was arrested and charged with a number of sexual based offenses, as well as misconduct in public office. He was eventually convicted of attempted second degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement. This case was significant in that the City of Racine lost its sitting mayor. It was also significant that our office vigorously pursued this matter and showed that no citizen, even the mayor, was above the law.
2. State v. Samuel C. Johnson – I was the prosecutor for this case. This case involved the defendant sexually assaulting (a minor girl) over a period of time. The unusual aspect of this case was that the defendant was a well known billionaire business leader in Racine. His family's business endeavors employed hundreds of local citizens and was a leading philanthropic force in the community. While initially cooperative, the victim eventually refused to cooperate with the State and also failed to provide her therapy records which were requested by the defendant. She and her mother also moved to North Carolina and refused to voluntarily return to Wisconsin to testify. In addition, the State sought to obtain the defendant's treatment records from a clinic in Arizona, whereat he confessed to the sexual assaults. This matter was not only litigated in the State of Wisconsin, but it was also litigated through the superior court of the State of Arizona, eventually ending up in the Arizona Supreme Court. The extradiction of the victim and mother were also litigated in the courts of North Carolina. The therapy record issue eventually ended up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. ... In the end, without the victim's cooperation, the State was forced to settle on two counts of 4th degree sexual assault. The defendant was sentenced to 4 months in the county jail. Again, the dogged prosecution of this matter showed the community that no one was above the law.
3. State v. David Larsen – I was the co-prosecutor for this matter. This case involved the defendant beating his ex-wife nearly to death, kidnapping her and hiding stuffing (sic) her in a large barrel. He transported the barrel/victim to a storage facility in Palatine, Illinios (sic), wherein he locked her inside during sub-freezing weather. During the hours immediately after the crime, I assisted officers at the defendant's house (crime scene) as well and assisting them in drafting and obtaining search warrants. Through excellent police work, the victim was located and rescued. She sustained substantial injury, including the loss of all of her toes as a result of frostbite. She was eventually able to participate in the prosecution of the defendant, which lead (sic) to a conviction for attempted first degree intentional homicide. As a result of this case, the victim Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, has become a nationally known champion for victims of domestic violence and changes in the law geared to protect victims of domestic violence.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns in the last six years:
Racine County judicial candidates
Michael Nieskes – volunteer and donor.
Timothy Boyle – volunteer and donor.
Trish Hansen – volunteer and donor.
Eugene Gasiorkiewicz – volunteer and donor.
Also donated to Milwaukee County judicial campaign for Paul Rifelj.
Endorsed all of the above candidates and Racine County judicial candidate Mark Nielsen.
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 the application:
Waterford Lions Club
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church & Love Inc. meal program
Waterford High School mock trial legal coach
Describe any pro bono legal work in the last five years: NA
Why I want to be a judge — … In 1997, I was recruited by the Racine County District Attorney's Office. While I miss the diversity of private practice, I became enthusiastically adept at prosecuting sensitive and violent crimes. The majority of my case load focuses on sexual assaults, child abuse, child pornography, robberies, homicides, etc. As a prosecutor, I have litigated between 90 and 100 cases and 100's of motions. I have removed seriously violent and predatory individuals from our streets. As a result of my experience, I have honed a keen sense of examining the merits of a case. As a prosecutor, I have a heightened responsibility to assess each case with thoroughness, keeping in mind that the impact of my decisions may be great. Consequently, I frequently utilize discretion that is much broader and more significant than most other attorneys. ...
I also believe that my litigation experience will be a great addition to our bench. It is interesting to note that many of our current judges do not have an extensive litigation background. I believe my trial experience has equipped me with the skills and knowledge to address a wide variety of issues that may arise in court and will translate into fostering an effective and efficient courtroom setting.
The effect of McDonald, coupled with Heller, cannot be overstated. ... The McDonald decision, once and for all, put to bed the argument ... that the Second Amendment only applied to the maintenance of militias. - Racine County Judge Robert S. Repischak
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years — McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)
The case I have chosen is the second of a one-two punch combination confirming the Second Amendment's protection of an individual's right to privately keep and bear arms. … In McDonald, the Court addressed loccal (sic) ordinances which effectively banned virtually all handgun possessions by private citizens. Earlier, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the Court struck down a District of Columbia ordinance which banned the possession of handguns in private homes. The Heller decision affirmatively resolved the question of whether possession of a firearm for self-defense was the "central component" of the Second Amendment, and thus a constitutionally protected right. Heller expanded the protections of the Second Amendment to private citizens. What it did not resolve, however, was the question of whether the Second Amendment was applicable to the States. The McDonald decision completed that which Heller started, by answered (sic) that question in the affirmative; finally applying the Second Amendment to the States, on a level commensurate with that of the other first Eight Amendments.
The effect of McDonald, coupled with Heller, cannot be overstated. First, the decision ended a dry spell of Second Amendment jurisprudence. ... The McDonald decision, once and for all, put to bed the argument espoused in Miller that the Second Amendment only applied to the maintenance of militias.
McDonald opened up the Second Amendment protections to private citizens and divorced the militia limitation from it. Further, it expanded Heller by finally applying the Second Amendment to the States, via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Secondly, the decision is a wonderful and historical read. Justices Alito and Thomas laid out a clear and informative history of the thoughts and philosophy that fostered the fundamental concept of an individual's right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. The decision recognizes that self-defense is a basic right and is a fundamental component of the Second Amendment. …
The majority opinion, together with the concurring opinion of Justice Thomas, are important because they address some of the arguments advanced by those who would continue to limit the Second Amendment to the maintenance of militias and deprive citizens of their right to self-defense by keeping and bearing arms. The historical and philosophical arguments contained in those opinions are a sound counter to the specious argument of those espousing "gun control" and the desire to limit the Second Amendment.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years
The decisions in State v. Lynch 2016 WI 66 (2016) and State v. Johnson, 348 Wis. 2d. 450 (2013) are disappointing; not for what they accomplished, but for what they ultimately failed to accomplish. In each case, the Court had an opportunity to correct the misinterpretation of Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39 (1987) that tainted the decision of State v. Shiffra, 175 Wis. 2d 600, 499 N.W. 719 (Ct. App. 1993). However, in each case the majority of the Justices failed to agree to affirm, modify or reverse a court of appeals decision dealing with the effects of Shiffra. The Shiffra decision has not only vexed courts, like Lynch and Johnson, it also has deprived many victims of justice.
The issues that have caused lingering problems center on an all too acceptable premise that (1) a defendant has a right to demand an in camera review of a victim's private and privileged records, and (2) the only sanction for a victim's refusal to release said privileged records is to prohibit that victim from testifying. These flawed presumptions have led to unwarranted intrusions into individual, non-governmental, privileged records of victims. They have also acted to deprive victims of their ability to seek justice. In Ritchie, the defendant sought confidential files from a state protective agency. The files were deemed confidential by statute, but could be accessed by a court order. Using a Due Process analysis and relying upon Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the Court determined that the State was obligated to tum over the records, in part, because they were in its possession. Limiting the Brady obligation to a government entity was appropriate. Had Shiffra limited the defendant's right to privileged records solely in the government's possession, all would have been well. However, Shiffra expanded a defendant's reach and created a new right to access individual victim's privileged information well beyond the intention of Brady. As a result, an individual may no longer feel secure in the privacy of their personal information once they have become a victim of a crime.
The Shiffra decision also imposed a draconian sanction upon victims for failing to release privileged records. If imposed, the sanction prohibits victims from testifying. This presents a victim with a difficult choice; either choose between keeping their privileged information private or forego his/her pursuit of justice. This sanction is often fatal to any prosecution in which a victim refuses to release privileged information. Such a sanction does not take into account a defendant's successful attempt to convince, coerce or cajole a victim into refusing to cooperate, as was the case in Johnson. A sanction mechanism by which a defendant can successfully prevent a victim from testifying thwarts the pursuit of justice.
The Court could have remedied these issues in Lynch and Johnson, but by failing to reach a majority compromise, the Court has kept in place a means to deprive some victims of justice, at the expense of maintaining their privacy.
Judicial philosophy — Applicant says that his judicial philosophy is defined by the following factors: restraint, know your limits, words and actions have meaning, and be respectful.
I have developed a certain level of expertise in my field. However, I will be the first to admit that I am not well versed in certain areas of the law. For instance, it has been many years since I have dealt with a UCC financing issue or a condemnation by use of eminent domain. As such, even when addressing an issue within my field of expertise, I remind myself that I am not the smartest person in the room. By doing so, it allows me to keep an open mind and to listen to those who have other ideas and thus expand my fund of knowledge.
Sheriff David Clarke testified that in a federal court lawsuit that he is not responsible for jail medical care.
"Do you have any responsibility with respect to the ...(jail) infirmary?" attorney Arthur Loevy asked Clarke.
"No, sir," Clarke responded.
Moments later the sheriff added: "We have a doctor, a medical doctor who is in charge of the -- those medical areas. Not me. I don't know anything about meds. I don't know what I would be looking at. Oh yeah, there's a bed, there's this."
Clarke's testimony came during a deposition, taken in December 2015, that is part of a lawsuit filed against Clarke and Milwaukee County by a former jail inmate who alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier D. Thicklen and was shackled by deputies as she gave birth to a baby in a hospital. The suit is scheduled for trial next month.
The jail's health care has come under recent scrutiny because of the deaths of four inmates over the period of several months and unfavorable reports on health care services provided by a private contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services.
"You say you are responsible," Clarke said under questioning by Loevy, a lawyer representing the woman, identified in court documents as Jane Doe. "I'm not responsible for medical stuff; the doctor that I hire is."
Clarke's assertions that he is not responsible for medical care in the jail seems to directly contradict state law, which states that "If a prisoner needs medical or hospital care or is intoxicated or incapacitated by alcohol the sheriff, superintendent or other keeper of the jail or house of correction shall provide appropriate care or treatment. ..." (§) 302.38 (1)
And for inmates held in the jail on behalf of the City of Milwaukee, "the sheriff or other keeper is legally responsible for any such prisoner's confinement; maintenance; care, including medical and hospital care. ..." (§) 302.336 (2)
"I'm not responsible for medical stuff..." Sheriff David Clarke
More from the deposition is below.
Loevy: And who does he (the doctor) report to, if anyone?
Clarke: I don't know.
Loevy: Anyone --
Clarke: I don't know how he could report --
Loevy: Anyone in the sheriff's office?
Clarke: -- to a lay person.
Loevy: Anyone in the sheriff's office?
Clarke: Maybe Inspector Schmidt, but I don't know. I don't want a doctor reporting to me. I know nothing about medicine. Nothing. Why would he report to me? Why would he report to Inspector Schmidt? He has his responsibilities. There's the code that he has to operate under. I don't know who he reports to.
Loevy: You asked me a question. It is somewhat irregular. Maybe because he says there's 50 people came to see me today, and I can't accommodate them, Sheriff. What should I do?
Clarke: I would say that's your problem, you figure it out.
Loevy: All right.
Clarke: Because now you are asking me who should be treated, who not? I'm not going there. Well, do these first and we'll have these over here? No, I'm not doing that. He has to figure that out.
Loevy: Who makes the decision as to how many -- how many hours the medical person should work?
Clarke: He does.
Loevy: So if he tells you I'm going to work two hours a week, okay with you?
Clarke: I don't know. ... He is responsible for the medical stuff.
Milwaukee County judges handed down longer sentences - a median of 65 days - for nonviolent misdemeanors than did other judges around the state, new data show.
The statewide median sentence was 30 days.
None of the offenders considered had a previous conviction for violence.
Milwaukee County also ranked near the top in the share of nonviolent misdemeanants it sent to jail. Pepin County was tops, at 43.3%; Milwaukee County clocked in at 37%; and statewide, the median was 27.7%.
There also was a racial disparity the length of sentences for those nonviolent misdemeanors in Milwaukee County, The median sentence for nonwhite defendants was 70 days, 17 percent longer than the 60-day median for whites.
The median is the midpoint, meaning half the sentences were longer than the median and half were shorter.
Statewide, there was no racial disparity in sentencing, though individual counties did show disparities -- in six counties, nonwhite defendants were sentenced to longer terms, and in 20 counties whites received longer median sentences than nonwhites.
The data, part of the new Measures for Justice portal that made its debut Tuesday, cover the years 2012-2013.
Milwaukee County Chief Judge Maxine White said the county is in the midst of implementing a a $2 million grant Safety and Justice Challenge Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to reduce the inmate population at the jail and the House of Correction.
Reducing the "misuse and overuse of jails is the mantra they gave us," she said Wednesday.
The partners in the grant, including the courts, the district attorney's office, the public defender's office and others, are working to keep low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system, she said.
If methods other than criminal prosecution can be effective in dealing with those low-level crimes, she said, "we would have a substantially reduced caseload."
The county, according to the Safety and Justice Challenge website, is focusing on three initiatives.
The portal's data on nonviolent misdemeanors is only one of the data points that can be compared across county lines for the first time. The portal is still under development and contains data for just six states, including Wisconsin.
“The data are a treasure trove for communities that will now have access to reliable, informative, and comprehensive data about their criminal justice systems,” Amy Bach, president and executive director of Measures for Justice said in a prepared statement. “Our portal is intended to be a starting point for conversations about how to address the multiple issues facing the criminal justice system.”
There are data points a user will not find on the portal -- at least not yet. There are no statistics about specific crimes, for example. But the data that are available will provide new context to criminal justice discussions in the state.
More Wisconsin tidbits from Measures for Justice for the 2009-13 time span -- we'll be looking deeper into these in the coming weeks and months:
A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a former inmate's allegation that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and the county implemented an unconstitutional policy requiring that pregnant inmates be shackled while giving birth.
Clarke and the county had argued that the claim by the former inmate, identified as "Jane Doe" in court filings, should be dismissed because she did not exhaust all potential administrative remedies available to her before filing suit, as required by law.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, citing an earlier ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, said that Doe was not required to pursue a grievance because there was little the jail could do to rectify the harm the shackling caused her as and after she gave birth to her daughter in October 2014.
"Defendants’ allegedly harmful shackling thus concluded upon the birth of her daughter, and so “[s]he had no opportunity to grieve [the shackling] until after the harm done by it was complete and could not be undone by the defendants,” Stadtmueller said in his opinion.
Doe filed suit in 2014, alleging that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier D. Thicklen while she was a County Jail inmate. Her shackling claim was added to the suit later. Doe originally sought class action status for that claim, but dropped the request in March.
The county has not disputed the claims.
The trial in the case is set for June 5.
Read earlier reporting on the case here, here, and here.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca F. Dallet is widely rumored to be readying a run for the State Supreme Court seat now held by Michael J. Gableman.
Dallet, however, isn't quite ready to commit. "I've been approached by several people asking me to run and I'm giving it serious consideration," she said Wednesday.
If Dallet runs and the very conservative Gableman seeks re-election, there will be a primary in the Supreme Court race next year because Madison attorney Tim Burns already has announced that he will also seek the seat.
The primary election will be Feb. 20; the general election will be April 3.
Dallet was elected to the Branch 40 bench in 2008, beating attorney and police officer Jeffrey Norman. She was re-elected without opposition in 2014.
She also has served as a Milwaukee County court commissioner, adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School, assistant district attorney, and special assistant U.S. attorney.
As judge, she presided over felony courtrooms for several years and is now assigned to civil court.
Dallet received her law degree from Case Western Reserve University Law School in 1994.
"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Robert F. Dehring Jr.
Appointed to: Jefferson County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 14, 2016; up for election spring, 2018
Law School – Marquette University
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin-Madison
High School – Waukesha North
2013 - present – Waukesha County judicial commissioner
2010 - 2012 – Jefferson County judicial commissioner
2009 - 2013 – Jefferson County assistant corporation counsel
Waukesha County Bar Association (board member, 2014-15; secretary/treasurer, 2015-16; president-elect, 2016-17)
Wisconsin Family Court Commissioner Association
The Federalist Society-Milwaukee Lawyers Chapter
Office of Lawyer Regulation-District 5 Committee
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Private practice focused on estate planning, tax, and corporate contract work.Limited work in bankruptcy court, probate court, and criminal court (including felony cases).
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 0; non-jury, 30,000; administrative bodies, 2.
Cases on appeal: 0
List and describe the three most significant cases in which you were involved: None listed. I am unaware of any cases of mine that were cited in reported decisions.
Describe the approximate number and nature of cases you have heard during your judicial or quasi-judicial tenure: Civil court evictions, money claims under $10,000; temporary restraining orders in domestic abuse, harassment, child abuse and other matters; family court cases; criminal court initial appearances, bail hearing, arraignments, felony preliminary hearings and search warrants; juvenile court and probate matters.
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.
One case of mine that I believe to be especially significant is Waukesha County case ... due to a novel family law issue that surely would have reached the appellate level had the parties not eventually reached a stipulation. The parties have an 18 year old child who is developmentally disabled. The child attends public school receiving instruction in "life skills" which may or may not be interpreted as worthy of high school credit. In Wisconsin, child support runs until age 18, unless the child is actively pursuing a high school diploma. The mother, who has primary placement of the child, wants child support to run until age 19 because the child is still in school. The father wants child support to end at age 18 because the course of instruction will not lead to a high school diploma.
Another case that I consider significant is one of the first small claims trials that I heard in Jefferson County. ... The plaintiff was an indigent farmer who contracted with a Farmers Market (the defendant) to sell her fruits and vegetables. The farmer had a booth in a prime location, in a more prominent view of shoppers. Defendant told Plaintiff that she would have to move her booth to a less desirable location, even though they had contracted otherwise, so that the Defendant could give the spot to another preferred vendor. When plaintiff resisted, the defendant threatened to harm the plaintiff in an illegal manner. I found that the hostile environment created by the defendant was tantamount to a breach of contract, and awarded damages in the amount of $200.00. This amount represented the profit that the farmer would have earned but for the breach of contract. While the outcome may not be considered significant in terms of dollars and cents, I believe this case to be a victory for the proposition of equal justice under the law, and in particular, for small business owners everywhere.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns in the last six years: In 2010, I ran for City of Cudahy Municipal Judge. I received 17.43% of the vote in the 2/16/10 primary and did not advance to the general election. John Dobogai won the general election in April, 2010.
Candidates endorsed in the last six years -- David Wambach, Ronald Sonderhouse, Rebecca Bradley, Timothy Kay.
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 the application: I am an active member of St. Catherine’s Church in Oconomowoc. I have volunteered for several years as Presiding Judge in the Wisconsin High School Mock Trial program. I volunteer from time to time for charities such as the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Lake Area Free Clinic.
I found that the hostile environment created by the defendant was tantamount to a breach of contract, and awarded damages in the amount of $200.00. - Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert F. Dehring Jr., describing one of his most significant cases
Describe any pro bono legal work in the last five years: None - prohibited due to status as quasi-judicial official.
Why I want to be a judge – I want to be a judge because, given my abilities, it is the highest level of service that I can offer to the community.
It is a daily honor to take the bench as a commissioner. When on the bench, it is inescapable to realize ones responsibility to society, and to the litigants in particular. It is rewarding to have the chance to positively affect people’s lives (or, all too often, minimize the negative circumstances).
The intellectual challenge of applying statutes and case law to a particular fact pattern is often grueling, but always stimulating.
Our system of justice is not flawless. But it is the best in the world, and the envy of all other nations. It is both daunting and rewarding to be a critical cog in the system.
As a commissioner I am already familiar with the processes of the Jefferson County court system. I have heard thousands of cases in every area of the law. In Waukesha County, I have helped reduce costs to the taxpayers through efficiency initiatives, such as leading the county's transition to paperless filing. I would like to use this experience to take the next step from commissioner to judge.
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years — United States v. Lopez (1995)
[This case] halted a decades-long trend of federal encroachment on state sovereignty.
In 1990, Congress made it a federal offense for any individual to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone. The Act neither regulated a commercial activity nor contained a requirement that the possession be connected in any way to interstate commerce. Lopez was convicted in the District Court. Lopez appealed, challenging his conviction based on his claim that the Act exceeded Congress' power to legislate under the Commerce Clause. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction, holding the Act invalid as beyond the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause in light of insufficient congressional findings and legislative history. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals.
This opinion is remarkable in its patient and deliberative analysis. Chief Justice Rehnquist immediately recognizes that even the precedents which have expanded congressional power under the Commerce Clause confirm that this power is subject to outer limits. …
In the instant case, there was no evidence that the carrying of handguns affected the economy on a grand scale. To accept the government's "domino effect" argument would be to create a slippery slope where the government could regulate any activity that might lead to violent crime, regardless of its nexus to interstate commerce, due to possible social costs. If Congress could regulate something so far removed from commerce, then it could regulate anything.
The Constitution created Congress as a body with enumerated powers. Congress may exercise only those powers granted to it. Regulation of criminal law enforcement and education are areas that States have been historically and constitutionally sovereign. Given no evidence that the activity substantially affects interstate commerce, the Court was correct to step in and check the government's authority by defining clearly between state and federal powers.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years – Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
[This case] is an unfortunate assault upon individual property rights.
The city of New London used its eminent domain authority to seize private property to sell to private developers for redevelopment. The city said developing the land would create jobs and increase tax revenues, as local planners hoped that the Pfizer Corporation would draw new business to the area. Kelo and others whose property was seized sued New London in state court. The property owners argued the city violated the Fifth Amendment's takings clause, which prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without just compensation. Specifically, the property owners argued taking private property to sell to private developers was not public use. ...
In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the majority held that the city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause. The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. Such justifications for land takings, the majority argued, should be given deference. …
This is a classic example of judicial activism, where the Court contorts the plain text of the Constitution to the point of absurdity, for the benefit of subjective policy preferences. In the takings clause, the words "public use" limit the government's power to the taking of private property only when the land would be used by the general public. The majority misinterprets "public use" as being the equivalent of "public purpose," which displaces the language of the Clause. Moreover, the takings clause in the Fifth Amendment was enacted to prevent the government from infringing on the private property rights of citizens, a right which was fundamental to the American Founding. The Founders could not have intended to benefit the politically powerful at the expense of individual homeowners and local communities.
Judicial philosophy — My judicial philosophy is characterized by restraint, strict constructionism, and accountability.
Judges must interpret the law strictly rather than to seek to make new laws. A judge should defer to the intent of the legislature rather than what he or she feels the law should be. This is assuming that the legislature is acting within its enumerated powers.
A role of the judiciary is to be a check on the expansion of federal power. The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution states that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people. Accordingly, issues that are not explicitly expressed in the U.S. Constitution are the domain of each respective State.
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. I applied for an appointment to Branch 9 in Waukesha County through this commission on 7/23/2014.
Milwaukee County will increase the amount it charges suburbs to incarcerate municipal ordinance violators at the House of Correction by 49% and the amount it charges the City of Milwaukee to house its municipal violators at the County Jail by 61%, county documents show.
The increases will take effect June 1.
The daily boarding rate charged by the House will rise from $25.40 to $37.75, an increase of $12.35; the jail rate will increase from $25.40 to $40.77, up $15.37.
The House will also eliminate the $35 per commitment it charges for municipal offenders. A commitment is essentially an incarceration order for unpaid fines.
"The majority of the daily rate covers the actual cost of of medical services and direct inmate supervision of by Corrections Officers," Steven R. Kreklow, director of the county Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget said in a memo. "Other components of the daily rate include the cost of food, laundry and payment processing."
The charges have note been adjusted since 2007, Kreklow said.
Last year, the jail had 2,483 inmate days served while the House of Correction had 15,441 inmate days served on municipal commitments, Kreklow said.
Suburban commitments generally are served at the House; City of Milwaukee commitments generally are served at the jail, although overflow from the jail is sent to the House.
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative urged the county to raise its rates both to more fully recover its costs and to discourage municipalities from overusing the two detention facilities to incarcerate municipal ordinance violators who do not pay their fines in a timely fashion. County officials have said they are allowed to increase rates only to cover direct costs of housing the inmates.
Suburbs vary widely in their incarceration of municipal violators. In 2016, for example, West Allis incarcerated municipal offenders for an equivalent of more than 18 inmate years, while Shorewood did not incarcerate anyone at all because of non-payment of fines, House of Correction billing records show.
Milwaukee County should settle a federal court lawsuit filed by a former County Jail inmate brutally attacked and beaten without provocation by another inmate while a country jailer allegedly was slow to react, a county lawyer says.
Gary L. Kimble alleged in his lawsuit that jail staff misdiagnosed or mishandled his attacker's mental illness and wrongly assigned him to the general population, Assistant Corporation Counsel Julie P. Wilson said in a report to the County Board.
The beating Kimble received at the hands of Travis J. Moore was so bad that "the investigating detective observed Mr. Kimble to be unrecognizable due to facial injuries," Wilson wrote.
Kimble "sustained significant injuries to his head and eyes and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder," she said. He is willing to accept $18,000 to settle the case, she said.
Kimble represented himself throughout most of the suit, filed in April 2016, federal court records show. He hired legal counsel in March of this year.
Kimble alleged that Moore was disrupting his jail unit before the attack. "Moore was kicking his cell door...telling CO (corrections officer) (Michael) Allen that he had let somebody into his room to rape him," Kimble wrote. He also said in court documents that Moore was talking to himself and "making threats to kill and harm people."
Allen, he said, knew Moore to be a potential risk, but did nothing to protect other inmates.
Kimble was was asleep in his cell when Moore ran in and began beating him, Kimble alleged.
Other inmates who witnessed the attack tried for three or four minutes to get Corrections Officer Dominique Smith to intervene, Kimble said. Another inmate reported that "it seemed that C/O D. Smith freaked and was in shock, which also prevented him from moving quickly to respond," Kimble said.
A Sheriff's Department report filed by Smith said that several corrections officers responded to the incident and "secured" Moore, but Smith told a Sheriff's Department detective that Moore "eventually stopped the assault and surrendered himself to authorities," according to a criminal complaint filed against Moore.
As a result of the attack, Kimble said, "I have vision problems, and I need a walker to keep balance when walking.
Wilson, in her memo, said Moore's behavior had "raised some concerns," but he was ultimately cleared to be housed in general population.
There also are "some discrepancies about what information was shared between shifts," she wrote.
Moore, the assailant, was evaluated by medical staff about 40 minutes after the assault, but the badly injured Kimble was not evaluated for more than an hour. He was ultimately taken to Froedtert Hospital for further evaluation.
Moore had some hand injuries. He told jail staff that "The demon told me to do it, and god isn't helping me," Smith said in his report.
Moore was eventually convicted of felony battery to an inmate. Circuit Judge Mark Sanders sentenced him to three years' probation, with one year served at the House of Correction. Sanders also ordered Moore to undergo a mental health evaluation and comply with all recommended treatment or therapy.
The state's cocaine mom law is unconstitutionally vague and is unenforceable in the state, a federal court judge has ruled.
The law allowed pregnant women to be locked up if they use drugs or alcohol.
The law "affords neither fair warning as to the conduct it prohibits nor reasonably precise standards for its enforcement. The court will enjoin enforcement of the Act statewide," U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson wrote in his opinion, released Friday.
Tamara Loertscher used drugs before she knew she was pregnant and admitted that fact to doctors. She declined inpatient drug treatment because she no longer was using the drugs, which she had taken in an effort to medicate herself for depression brought on by thyroid problems.
Taylor County officials detained her for several days in the hospital, and she later was incarcerated for contempt of juvenile court for 18 days, until she signed a consent decree that required her to submit to drug monitoring, Loertscher was not provided prenatal care during the 18 days she was jailed.
Loertscher also was thrown into solitary confinement for refusing to take a urine test to confirm her already established pregnancy.
Loertscher finally was provided a public defender and signed a consent decree agreeing to, among other things, submit to drug testing at her own expense. All the tests were negative.
Peterson, in his decision, said there is conflicting evidence about how much drug or alcohol intake by an expectant mother poses a substantial risk to the child and how effective state-mandated treatment programs are.
Attorney General Brad Schimel's office, defending the law, argued that the court should be more lenient with its consideration of the statute's vagueness because it is a civil statute, not a criminal one.
Peterson shot that down. "This is too simplistic a view," he wrote. "Although the Act is nominally a civil statute and does not impose a criminal liability, its consequences are nearly equivalent to criminal sanctions: a woman subject to the Act may be involuntarily detained for treatment, as Loertscher's own case shows."
The statute involves constitutional rights to be free from physical restrain and the right to be free from coerced medical treatment, Peterson said.
The law contains a two-prong test to help determine whether a mother is in violation: the mother must "severely and habitually lack self-control in the use of alcohol, controlled substances, or controlled substance analogs" and that lack of self control must "pose a substantial risk that the physical health of the child will be seriously affected or endangered."
"Presumably, these terms are intended to prevent enforcement of the Act against minimal users of alcohol or controlled substances," Peterson wrote. "But where to draw the line? The State contends that its experts and social workers in the field can draw the line. But their answers are just as circular and standardless as the dictionary definitions."
The word "habitually" poses a similar problem, Peterson wrote. "Habitually means in some sense 'recurrent,' so it, too, poses a quantitative question: how often is often enough to be 'habitual'?" he said.
"How would the Act deal with an expectant mother who does not believe that alcohol—or some other drug—is really dangerous to the unborn child, and on the basis of that belief, consciously chooses to drink or use drugs during her pregnancy? There would be no demonstrated lack of self-control in such a case. So under the terms of the Act, a defiant—as opposed to dependent—expectant mother would not be subject to State control. ... The point is that the conduct covered by the Act is fundamentally unclear," he wrote.
A total of five sexual assault survivors contacted the state's hotline after the launch Attorney General Brad Schimel's "By Your Side" campaign to encourage survivors to find out about the status of their sexual assault kits.
"Maybe for some folks that's a really disappointing number," said Keeley Crowley, the State Department of Justice's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative site coordinator.
The assaults of at least three of those who used the hotline occurred 30 years ago, she told attendees of a meeting of the Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault last month. Those women welcomed the the chance to talk about what happened to them, she said.
"I feel confident they (the five) were provided the services the were looking for," she said.
She also said that the state now is planning to translate materials from the campaign into languages other than English.
A five-week online advertising effort to promote the By Your Side website ended in March. Attorney General Brad Schimel's office has come under fire for its low-budget effort to provide sexual assault survivors information about the testing status of their sexual assault kits and to determine whether women whose kits were not tested want them tested.
Schimel said during his agency's budget hearing that the By Your Side Campaign spent about $60,000.
"We do not have a fixed budget amount for the outreach program," DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said in a March 27 email. "Instead it is a flexible budget item which may be supplemented as needed."
(The state is spending, in contrast, $1.7 million to spread the word about the dangers of opioid abuse.)
There are about 6,000 untested sexual assault kits in the state and about 600 have been sent to a private lab for testing, DOJ officials said during the commission meeting.
Of the 6,000, almost 4,000 are already targeted for testing because the survivors gave their consent at some point, they said. The kits in another 1,000 or so other cases were not tested because the criminal cases were resolved and the testing was deemed unnecessary. The state is trying to determine how much value there is in testing those kits. The state already has on file DNA of convicted sex offenders.
About 500 tests were not tested for a variety of other reasons. Some cases might involve two consenting juveniles, where one could be technically considered guilty of sexual assault. There are a relative handful of cases that involve kits routinely taken at autopsy, whether or not there is any sign of sexual assault.
That leaves about 500 survivors the state especially would like to reach. Those survivors never gave their consent to have their kits tested, and the state will not test them without that consent. The state also is not trying to proactively contact the survivors to ask. Such a contact, coming out of the blue, could re-traumatize survivors or disrupt their lives, DOJ officials said.
Instead, the agency launched the web-based By Your Side campaign. It was kicked off in late January with three press conferences. More recently, DOJ printed posters promoting the outreach effort.
An internet campaign is more likely to be missed by survivors who are low-income than by those who are wealthy. The Pew Research Center reported in September that internet non-adoption "correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type."
About 13,000 people visited the website as of March 31, DOJ officials said. There is no way to tell, though, how many of those were survivors.
The 500 "priority" survivors may not come forward now for the same reason they were reluctant to have their kits tested immediately after the assault, Crowley said.
“Those survivors may never come forward," she said.
Koremenos said in the March 27 email that the state was "in the process" of collecting information about how many women came forward to have their kits tested after the campaign started. He has not responded to an April 17 follow-up inquiry.
Asked specifically how victims who left the state after they were assaulted in Wisconsin are supposed to find out about the state's testing program, Koremenos did not respond to the question asked, but wrote:
"Victim advocates, survivors and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault all participated in the creation of the 'By Your Side' outreach concept," he wrote. "Their recommendation was for a general outreach program that allows survivors to reach out regarding their sexual assault kits only if and when they decide they are ready to do so. They explicitly rejected direct contact / outreach to survivors, based upon the very real potential such direct 'cold' contact has for re-inflicting trauma."
Wisconsin has received about $4 million in grants for outreach and to test the kits. The Wisconsin Justice Initiative on Feb. 17 filed an open records request seeking documents related to the state's grant application and implementation. DOJ has yet to provide a single record.
The state's cautious approach to testing may have consequences beyond current survivors.
As of August, according to endthebacklog.org, "testing these backlogged rape kits has resulted in the identification of over 1,200 potential serial rapists. These serial offenders, linked to kits in just three cities, have committed crimes across at least 40 states and Washington, D.C. They have not just committed rape—many have been linked to other violent crimes, as well."
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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