"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Italics indicate direct quotes from the application. Typos, including punctuation errors, come from the original application even though we have not inserted “(sic)” after each one. WJI has left them as is.
Name: Yadira Rein
Appointed to: Outagamie County Circuit Court
Appointment date: June 24, 2021 (elected to a six-year term in April 2022)
Law School – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Undergraduate – University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
High School – Neenah High, Neenah, Wisconsin
Recent legal employment:
February 2018-present – Attorney, McCarty Law, LLP, Appleton, Wisconsin
August 2011-February 2018 – Attorney, Sigman Janssen, Appleton, Wisconsin
May 2009-August 2011 – Attorney, Glenn, Hoff & Daniels, Appleton, Wisconsin
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
State Bar of Wisconsin
General character of practice:
My practice currently involves family law matters, guardianship cases and guardian ad item appointments. The primary focus of my practice consists of handling family law cases such as divorce, custody and placement disputes, and paternity matters. However, throughout the course of my career, I also have had the opportunity to handle other areas of law on a limited basis, such as personal injury, restraining orders and minor criminal cases.
Describe typical clients:
My practice connects me with people from all walks of life from business clients to dairy farmers. My typical client is a person who is going through a divorce or any other family law issue. Additionally, as one of the only Spanish speaking attorneys in the area, fellow Latino members of the community will often call me at work requesting my assistance in both legal and nonlegal issues.
Number of cases tried to verdict: Approximately 5-10 per year
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
A Brown County marriage case: This case was complex as it consisted of a long-term marriage with a family-owned business and a non-working spouse with debilitating health issues. This case was significant to me as it not only required an understanding of how to evaluate their business but we had to be sensitive and know how to address the underlying health issues of one of the parties.
A guardianship case in Outagamie County: I represented an adult child in obtaining guardianship and protective placement of her mother whose health was deteriorating. It was significant to me because it was eye opening to the struggles that families have with their aging parents.
A Waushara County marriage case: I represented [the wife] in a post-judgment divorce matter. … The parties were divorced in 2016 after [she] filed for divorce due to [the husband] physically assaulting her. He was ultimately charged and deported as a result that assault. While the Respondent was in custody, he was awarded alternating weekends of placement of their small child but the placement to be exercised by paternal uncle and his wife. When the Respondent was deported, the order continued with paternal uncle having alternate periods of physical placement against the mother's wishes and without a Guardian Ad Litem being appointed. This case was significant to me because it was clear that due to the language barrier between [the woman] and her divorce attorney and the Court [she] was not properly represented in Court. I became involved post-divorce and requested that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointment as required by statute which ultimately led to the her recommendation that the it was no in the child's best interest for the frequent visits between the child and her uncle. The paternal uncle ultimately agreed and stipulated to suspend visitation.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies:
My practice areas do not bring me in front of administrative agencies or commissions.
Describe your non-litigation experience (e.g., arbitration, mediation).
I use non-litigation strategies, such as mediation and settlement conferences, often in my practice. When handling a family law matter, I consider it a success if I can help my client come to a resolution without putting his or her family through contested litigation. I also utilize the collaborative divorce model.
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: N/A
Previous runs for public office: None listed
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last ten years:
Emily Lonergan, Outagamie County Circuit Court, 2020
Carey Reed, Calumet County Circuit Court, 2021
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Wisconsin Family Law Section, member, 2009-present
Appleton Bilingual School, board member, 2012-present
Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association, member, 2008-present
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service:
Throughout my career, I have handled many cases on a pro bono basis. My personal goal is to handle two or three family law matters on a pro bono basis per year. I also consistently provide more limited legal and non-legal services to individuals who cannot afford representation. When I hear the fear and desperation in a caller's voice and I am not in a position to take the case pro bono, I do whatever I can to walk the caller through the applicable legal or non-legal process. For legal services, this includes providing copy of the pro se family packets, scheduling calls to discuss the process of a pro se divorce, and reviewing paperwork. For non-legal services, I have assisted and continue to assist Spanish speaking individuals with many issues including some as simple as talking to the local phone provider to set-up phone service. I feel a strong calling to use my bilingual abilities to help my community.
Why I want to be a judge -- I want to give back to the community that has given me so much. If not for everything that members of the community have given to me, I would not be where I am today.
I was born in El Paso, Texas, right across the border between the United States and Mexico. My stay in the United States only lasted a few days though as I went to live with my grandparents in Guerrero, Mexico. Guerrero was my home for approximately the first nine years of my life, when I joined my mom, who had moved to Larsen, Wisconsin, I did not speak a word of English when I moved to Wisconsin. I had to learn to adjust to a life without the family that raised me, in a new country where I could not speak the language. Looking back, I realize that it was an adjustment for my family members, as well, to adjust to having me there. There were times when I could not live at home with the various circumstances that existed; that is where my life began to be shaped by the people in the community. These people came from all walks of life, from school counselors, teachers, my manager at Burger King, my supervisor at our local grocery store, parents of friends, to the gas station clerk. I had people open their doors to their homes even though, oblivious to me at the time, their homes were already full. When my career advisor at high school told me that I was not college material, I had an adult drive me to the technical college that day to register me for a course. With a college course under my belt and a few people from the community cheering me on, I enrolled at the UW-Community College. It was there, too, that I learned a lesson in community giving after I received scholarships from local community members.
I would not be where I am today if I had not come across people that believed in me, guided me, and opened their homes to me. This life experience has created in me a strong desire to want to be a public servant. I feel that my unique life experience will give me the ability to relate to many of those who would come in front of me in Outagamie County. I once heard that people need to hear directions from someone who has already been to where they are going. If appointed judge, I hope to provide that sense of direction. I am ready to learn and work hard for the people in Outagamie County by drawing from my experience while upholding the core values of equal justice, fairness and impartiality in the administration of justice, accessibility to the court process, and treatment of all with dignity and respect.
Describe which case in the past 25 years by the Wisconsin Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court you believe had a significant positive or negative impact on the people of Wisconsin.
One case that had a significant impact on the people of Wisconsin is Michels v. Lyons, 2019 WI 57, 387 Wis. 2d I, 927 N.W.2d 486. This case involved a challenge to the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. § 767.43, better known as the Grandparent Visitation Statute. In Michels, two unmarried parents wanted to decline periods of visitation with their minor child to a grandparent. For several years, the parents had allowed their child to spend significant time with her paternal grandmother. However, as the child grew, both parents decided to limit the amount of time their child spent with her grandmother. This decision was based in part on some questionable behavior by the grandmother, such as allowing the child to sip alcohol and letting her ride a horse without a helmet, and in part based upon changes to the child's schedule.
The grandmother petitioned for periods of visitation under the Grandparent Visitation Statute. The circuit court ruled in favor of the grandmother. The question before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was whether the Grandparent Visitation Statute was constitutional. The statute permitted a court to grant reasonable visitation rights to a grandparent of a child if the child's parents have notice of the hearing and the court determines (a) the child is a nonmarital child whose parents have not subsequently married each other, (b) the paternity of the child has been determined under the laws of this state or another jurisdiction if the grandparent filing the petition is a parent of the child's father.(c) the child has not been adopted, and (d) the grandparent has maintained a relationship with the child or has attempted to maintain a relationship.
The parents in this case asserted that they have a fundamental liberty interest in the care and upbringing of their child and that the trial court infringed upon this interest when it overruled their decision regarding the visitation. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Dallet, determined that the Grandparent Visitation Statute is facially constitutional because there are circumstances under which the law can be constitutionally enforced, but it was unconstitutional as applied to the parents in that case. The Supreme Court in Michels determined that, in order to be constitutionally applied, a grandparent must overcome a presumption by clear and convincing evidence that a fit parent's decision is in the child’s best interest. In the case at hand, the Court found that the grandmother did not overcome the presumption with clear and convincing evidence.
By narrowing the scope of the Grandparent Visitation Statute, the Court is protecting a parent's fundamental rights while leaving the door open for grandparents who meet the burden by clear and convincing evidence that the parents are not acting in the child's best interest to seek visitation. This case has a positive impact on residents of Wisconsin because it appropriately balances the rights of the parents with the interests of the grandparents and the children.
Two or three judges whom I admire and why:
I admire Justice Sotomayor for being the first woman of color and the first Latina to serve on the United States Supreme Court. As a young Latina, it was rare for me to see a woman of color, particularly a woman of Hispanic origin, in any type of leadership role. I can relate to Justice Sotomayor as we are both daughters of immigrants, English was our second language, and both of our families lacked financial resources and experience with higher education. Justice Sotomayor has said that it was important for her to tell the truth about her life, warts and all to inspire other "ordinary people". She went on to say that, role models on television are fantasized but that it is important to move people beyond just dreaming into doing by allowing them to see that you are just like them and you made it. Justice Sotomayor has said that she will continue with her commitment to speaking to young people of color and from low-income backgrounds about educational opportunities and sharing with them her own experience and tools for success. I also share in that commitment and hope to be able to inspire young Latina girls to pursue their education opportunities and to serve as a reminder that they should believe in themselves.
On a local level, I admire Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Teresa Basiliere. I had the privilege of practicing family law with Judge Basiliere when she was in private practice. If I ever had a question on a case, I would often call her to ask for guidance and never walked away from any conversations we had disappointed. Judge Basiliere was confident, intelligent, kind, and reasonable as a practicing attorney and she took those qualities to the bench with her. I admire Judge Basiliere's dedication and the hard work she has put into her new role as judge in learning new areas of law.
The proper role of a judge:
The role of a judge involves several important responsibilities. These responsibilities include being a good listener, a hard worker, having a good temperament, and fairly and impartially applying the law to the facts of each case.
A key part of a judge's role is to listen. In my experience, clients are more willing to accept the outcome of a case when they feel that have been heard. While clients may not understand everything that is happening in court or everything being said by counsel, people from all walks of life and of all intelligence levels seem to universally understand and know if their judge is present and listening. A judge should also listen to counsel and respect the expertise that an attorney brings to a case. Each judge brings to the bench different areas of experience and inexperience. A judge that does not have experience in any given area of law needs to have the work ethic necessary to learn that area of the law and listen and respect the attorneys who do have experience in that area.
A judge also needs to be cognizant that her demeanor, body language and choice of words matters. As in private practice, a judge must give each party that comes into the courtroom the attention and time that they deserve. Due to the emotional nature of my family law practice, it is not uncommon for me to put out multiple fires a day. Some issues are miniscule compared to other more serious concerns, but both deserve my full attention. In their role, a judge needs to have a patient, kind, and respectful temperament, so that each person who comes in front of her feels respected. A judge should lead by example and show respect to not only the legal process but to all the people in the room. A judge should create an environment such that the parties will feel compelled to show the same respect in return.
A judge's role is also to consider the impact of a case or decision. A judge should consider what the goal or end-result is in a case and within the confines of the law craft a decision that will be attainable and practical to achieve. I believe that if we truly want to make an impact, we need to consider the practicality of the order or decision. If a judge keeps all of the above in mind, people will feel that justice was achieved even if they did not get the results for which they were hoping. In the end, we are all in pursuit of justice.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin