Attorney Rick Cveykus and Outagamie Circuit Judge Greg Gill, Jr. are competing for the District III Court of Appeals seat being vacated by Judge Mark Seidl, who is not seeking re-election.
Election Day is April 6.
Cveykus has been a lawyer with Cveykus Law Office since 2008 and is now managing partner.
Gill was appointed to his post by former Gov. Scott Walker. He received attention for campaign donations he received from conservative Republican donors Richard Uihlein, and John Menard. He is running as a textualist and judicial conservative.
WJI asked each of the candidates to answer a series of questions.
Gill did not respond.
Cveykus' answers are presented here as submitted. The questions asked are patterned after some of those on the job application Gov. Evers uses when he is considering judicial appointments.
Cveykus' resume is here and his campaign website is here.
Why do you want to become a judge?
I have spent the last 14 years of my life as an attorney helping people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. I’ve served as a legal advocate, professor at UW-Madison, mock trial teacher at the local high school, County Bar President, wills for veterans program partner, and board member with UW Alumni Scholarships and residential counseling services.
I am currently managing partner at Cveykus Law in Wausau, where I have built a broad practice in criminal law, family law, and small claims. I’m running because we need and deserve judges that make their decisions based on legal arguments rather than politics. It is time to bring independence to our judiciary and serve all in northern Wisconsin. Honesty, fairness, and
transparency are what I’m all about and I will bring those characteristics to the bench.
This Court will set the standard on a woman’s access to healthcare, to clean water and air, to
criminal justice reform, and this judge will be the one that delivers the deciding vote more often than not. I’m running because we need judges that care about all of Wisconsin, and will do all in my power to honor that commitment.
Name one of the best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty
years and explain why you feel that way.
The list is near impossible to address but the ones that strike the closest to home seem to be the ones that address equal access to justice. Here I would note a string of cases that all had a
lasting impact, Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558
(2003), and Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. ___ (2020) .
The issue at play in Romer was if Colorado could pass Amendment 2 which forbid any local
government body from engaging in any action that would find homosexuality to be a protected class of citizens, the argument was that this did not take away any rights of homosexual citizens but was merely legislation to guarantee that they could not get any more special treatment than a other citizens would. The Court struck it down noting that the problem with the logic of the State was that the ability to petition your government for protected status was the item that was being removed. Basically if you are a non-suspect class in Denver, while it is true that you are not afforded special protection, you had the ability to make your case to the government that given the current circumstances the government should address that, whether it be based on sex, religion or nationality. What had been removed here was for the first time while any other group could petition their local government for the first time people of a single community would be removed from the ability to even request it. Note this was not an argument that they must get special treatment, no municipality was required to offer any, but simply that like every other citizen, you could not close their ability to petition their government and argue that protection was needed. Lawrence was an extension on this saying we should not make criminal laws solely based on the fact that you do not share the moral view of the majority, that criminal punishment
requires more than moral distaste for your lifestyle and Bostock continued that protection into the workplace.
Name one of the worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way.
Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 2056 (2016), is a case that quickly comes to mind, not
because of the far-reaching implications as applied, but because of the message it can send.
Specifically the case was about the fact that if an officer seized you without an adequate legal
basis, but after that illegal seizure they discover that you have a warrant for your arrest any
evidence derived from that seizure will remain admissible. To some, this might seem fair and the thought would be you should just avoid having a warrant in the first place. However, the officer illegally detained the subject before they even knew about the warrant. Therefore, an officer would have an incentive to detain folks without cause because maybe they will get lucky and you will end up having a warrant. We are ill advised to set a reward structure that would encourage violations that chip away ever so slightly at the monumental promises of the Constitution.
In my view, our justice system has rightfully given a monopoly on use of force to law
enforcement, but the Court needs to be the one that sets guideposts on how that monopoly can rightfully be used within the limits of the Constitution.
Describe your judicial philosophy.
All lawyers start with the text of the Statute, and where it is not ambiguous it is our job only to
apply it. However when a Judge starts by telling you they are only a strict constructionist they are likely lying to you to earn your vote. For example The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,...” The Constitution makes no exception to that statement, yet I can’t walk up to you on the Street and say, “Give me your wallet or I will shoot you.” Quite often every judge has to take into account both historical understanding and
legislative intent but it makes for a fine campaign line to act as if we do not. What it has devolved into is simply claiming any ruling you dislike being one that is evidence of an “Activist Judge'' on either side, with no intellectual honesty to the position.
I want to do my best to be honest about my position that where the law is clear and
unambiguous that it is a judge’s job to simply apply the law, and in most cases that is exactly
where we must start. But there are thousands upon thousands of attorneys out there coming up with new arguments and new issues that may not have been addressed in the statute. When that occurs, candidates can either lie to you and claim it doesn’t exist and we simply apply the law like a computer or we can be honest and claim when those days come we have to look to historical understanding of the statute, to legislative intent, to analogy to similar issues, and to obtaining an equilibrium that addresses current day realities with the promises of liberty encapsulated in the Bill of Rights. The second one is harder to say and therefore harder to place on a campaign button, but in reality it is the honest answer that we should be educating our voters about rather than just hoping they never really call us on doing so. Next time you meet someone that claims to only be a strict constructionist ask them where in the First Amendment the ability to abridge, fighting words, or True Threats, or Obscenity, or incitement to Imminent lawless action, from the freedom of speech is spelled out in the document. Most times they will find a way to obfuscate rather than answer. We should call on our judges to be better and more honest than that.
Describe the two most significant cases in which you were involved as either an attorney or a judicial officer.
I was the lead attorney in State v. Bowers, is a case that addressed the implications of the
current Wisconsin Misconduct in public office statute, in whether a Police Officer can be legally
charged for violating a Sheriff Created employee handbook rule, and what action is in excess of
an officers “legal authority” when there is no definition in the Statute. This has been a long, but
absolutely fascinating case between the issues with the search, the Separation of Powers
argument, the statutory construction, and the standard for an interlocutory appeal. I was also the defense attorney in the case of State v. Dreyfus was a major felony Jury Trial in Shawano
County that addressed concerns with witness credibility and the intricacies of jury deliberations
and keeping a clean record for appeal that will add complexity to a Jury Trial.
Describe your legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, and
I have handled thousands of cases in criminal defense, in Administrative Revocations, in
Landlord Tenant disputes, and in Injunction Hearings. My firm further practices with a specialty in the Consumer Protection Act, in Family Law proceedings and in Trust and Estates. To this point in my career if you can name it we likely have had some connection with it, but the promise I make is no matter how much I think I know an area of law, I will read every word, every line, on every page, of every single brief, until I am satisfied that all issues raised by the parties have been researched, reviewed, and addressed in every single decision.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime, either misdemeanor or felony? If so, explain. When did the incident(s) occur?
Have you ever been cited for a municipal offense? If so, explain. When did the incident(s)
I do believe I was cited once for speeding, three times for a parking violation (once in Madison during my first week of school on campus, one in Green Bay when Court ran long, and one when I was 18 at the County Fair), and once for not having a front license plate displayed on my new vehicle. All were roughly ten years ago or more.
"However when a Judge starts by telling you they are only a strict constructionist they are likely lying to you to earn your vote." – Attorney Rick Cveykus
Do you support requiring any justice to recuse him/herself from cases involving donors and indirect supporters who contribute money or other resources to the judge's election? If not, why not? If so, why? What contribution limits would you set?
I am for a strong adherence to Judicial Recusal, both where there is a conflict of interest or an
appearance of a conflict of interest. Every party in front of me has to understand that their case
will be decided by their legal arguments and no other extraneous factors. To keep that from even ever being a question in my Court I would recommend recusal from any time a real conflict or an appearance of conflict is likely to result.
What are the greatest obstacles judges face when trying to deliver true justice? What can or should be done about them?
Really the two largest obstacles I see come down to time and effort. Judges are overworked,
many public attorneys are underpaid, and the current system rewards closing or moving a case
more than it does resolving it correctly. Judges need to make sure that attorneys are on notice
that they are expected to spend time and effort in preparing a case, and attorneys deserve to
know that Judges will do their own legal research in addition to what is presented to them. Cases need to move quickly, but that is not an excuse for anyone to cut corners. Judges need to spend more time on their cases, and yes, often that will mean taking cases and research home with them, they will need to care about the outcome and put themselves in the shoes of the litigators to remember this is often someone's liberty or livelihood that is at issue. People deserve to have their day in court be meaningful and that can only be done with a dedication to giving each case the time and effort that it deserves.
Provide any other information you feel would be helpful to potential voters deciding whom to vote for.
All in our courtrooms, regardless or race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, status, or any
other factor, must be treated equitably.
Additionally, empowering citizens with a better understanding of how our different courts function should be an important goal of any judge. I view serving as a judge as more than just sitting on the bench and making decisions, it means being an involved public servant who helps build trust and understanding in our institutions and the rule of law.
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