Two candidates are vying for a seat on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court bench. The seat in Branch 43 is open due to Judge Marshall Murray's decision not to run for re-election. The election is April 2, 2024.
Candidate Rochelle Johnson-Bent (below left) is an attorney in the Milwaukee Public Schools system. Candidate Marisabel Cabrera (below right) is an elected Wisconsin Assembly representative and attorney at Cabrera Law Office.
The candidates joined WJI in person on Jan. 31, 2024, to introduce themselves and answer questions from attendees. The event was held as a luncheon at Riverfront Pizzeria in Milwaukee, hence the imperfect visual quality and some background noise at times.
Wisconsin legal historian Joseph Ranney joined WJI at its virtual June Salon for a fascinating talk on post-Civil War civil rights laws across the nation and in particular here in Wisconsin.
Ranney is an adjunct professor at Marquette Law School and the author of several books and articles on Wisconsin and American legal history, including Trusting Nothing to Providence: A History of Wisconsin's Legal System and Wisconsin and the Shaping of American Law. He is working on a history of civil rights law in the Northern and Western states from colonial times to 1968.
Ranney's talk relates to WJI's Unsung Heroes blog series on women and people of color whose impacts on Wisconsin legal history deserve more attention. Ranney discusses, among others, two men profiled in the series: Ezekiel Gillespie, who fought for the right to vote for Wisconsin's Black men, and William T. Green, who as an attorney worked to enforce civil rights.
VIDEO: New Eviction Diversion Initiative to help tenants and landlords address disputes without litigation
WJI Executive Director Margo Kirchner chats with Meagan Winn, director of Milwaukee County's Eviction Diversion Initiative. The Eviction Diversion Initiative is a new program providing tenants and landlords with information and resources to resolve housing issues both inside and outside of court. Avoiding eviction litigation can be important for tenants, as an eviction judgment from (or even the filing of) an eviction lawsuit can make it difficult for tenants to find future housing. The initiative connects tenants and landlords with resources such as rental assistance, housing counseling, legal assistance, and mediation. Funded by a grant from the National Center for State Courts, the program includes data collection and development of user-friendly court rules and procedures.
Milwaukee County was one of the first cohort of states and municipalities selected by the National Center for State Courts for funding to pilot eviction-diversion strategies.
Two candidates are vying for a seat on the Milwaukee Municipal Court bench. The election is April 4, 2023.
Candidate Lena Taylor is an attorney and elected state senator. Candidate Molly Gena is the managing attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, a nonprofit law firm providing free legal services in civil cases to those who meet certain low-income requirements.
Gena (on the viewer's left) and Taylor (on the viewer's right) joined WJI in person on January 25 to introduce themselves and answer questions from attendees.
Notes: Taylor had a prior engagement that, when combined with snow that day, caused her to enter the event a few minutes after it started. The event was held as a luncheon at Riverfront Pizzeria in Milwaukee, hence the imperfect visual quality and some background noise at times.
Attorney Jessie Long joined WJI on December 15 to discuss Legal Action of Wisconsin's Center for Driver's License Recovery and Employability (CDLRE). The CDLRE helps low-income people reinstate or get their driver’s licenses so they can get to and from work. Long is one of two Legal Action attorneys who staff the CDLRE, which is located at the Milwaukee Area Technical College's downtown campus.
Lack of a valid driver's license can impact the one's job opportunities and the ability to get to work on time. Driving without a valid license may result in additional tickets that can create debt that low-income people cannot afford. Attorneys at the CDLRE help clients navigate the administrative and judicial requirements to get their licenses back.
Long discussed the high percentage of license suspensions caused by a person's failure to pay prior municipal forfeitures and how a suspension for failure to pay often does not relate to one's driving ability. Suspensions for failure to pay last longer than revocations for first-offense operating while intoxicated offenses and most suspensions due to points. Also, municipalities that suspend licenses for failure to pay don't necessarily collect more revenue than municipalities that do not. Several states have moved away from license suspensions as a means of enforcing payments for tickets, but Wisconsin statutes still allow it.
Hear more about the impact of license suspensions on the poor and what the CDLRE does to help people get licensed again.
On Aug. 2, four Democrat candidates running for the Milwaukee County sheriff position joined WJI in a virtual forum to answer questions about their professional experience, issues in the sheriff's department, and plans for the office if elected.
Candidates (alphabetically) Denita Ball, Brian Barkow, and Thomas Beal appear on the ballot. Mohamed Awad is conducting a write-in campaign.
Voters will choose between the candidates in the primary election on Aug. 9. Because no Republican is running, the winner of the primary is expected to win in November as well.
If you missed the Salon, or if you want to watch or listen again, click on the image below to view the recording. (Note: Candidate Awad appears in the video without a visual of his person. He did appear visually on screen in the Zoom meeting. However, because of audio difficulties he had to dial in to be heard, so a truncated phone number appears in the video while he is speaking.)
Recordings of this and several past Salons are also available on WJI's YouTube channel here.
On June 22 Angela Lang, the executive director of BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing for Communities), and Keisha Robinson, BLOC's deputy director, joined WJI to chat about their organization's activities, which include court watching, canvassing neighborhoods, and developing future leaders in the Black community.
BLOC works through coordinated political action to ensure a high quality of life and access to economic opportunity for members of the Black community in Wisconsin and to empower Black leaders with the tools, training, and resources needed to organize and guarantee that their issues, concerns, and values are represented at all levels of government. Over just a few years BLOC has become a forceful nonprofit in the Milwaukee area.
If you missed the Salon, or if you want to watch or listen again, click on the link below for the recording.
This and recordings of several other past salons are also available on WJI's YouTube channel here.
Attorneys Eileen Hirsch and Diane Rondini headlined the Oct. 13 WJI Virtual Salon to discuss their request to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to restrict juvenile shackling in court.
Five circuit court judges from around the state also signed on to the Supreme Court petition.
Under the proposed new Supreme Court rule, children could not be restrained during a court proceeding unless a judge found one of the following:
Video of the Salon is below. There were some Zoom problems, so there are a few cuts of unintelligible audio.
Watch or listen to this fascinating discussion with Alec Karakatsanis, who joined WJI April 29, 2021 for a discussion about "Prosecutors, Judges, and Public Defenders: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Mass Human Caging Bureaucracy."
Karakatsanis is the founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization challenging systemic injustice in the U.S. legal system through advocacy and litigation.
Karakatsanis, author of "Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System," doesn’t think people who have gone to law school, passed the bar, and sworn to uphold the Constitution should be complicit in the mass caging of human beings – an everyday brutality inflicted disproportionately on poor people and people of color and for which the legal system has never offered sufficient justification.
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