"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: Gary L. Bendix
Appointed to: Manitowoc County Circuit Court
Appointment date: December 2011; elected in 2012.
Law School – University of Wisconsin Law School (First attended University of Arizona Law School)
Undergrad – UW - Parkside
High School – William Horlic High School, Racine
2009 - present - Bendix Law Office
2006 - present - Manitowoc County Circuit Court, supplemental court commissioner
1999-2009 - Whyte Hirscboeck Dudek, S.C., shareholder
State Bar of Wisconsin
Manitowoc County Bar Association
American Bar Association (past)
Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers (past)
Association of Trial Lawyers (past)
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Appeared in about 20 Wisconsin counties and in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Experience in many areas including condemnation, personal injury, contracts, fair dealership, anti-trust, defamation, divorce, custody disputes, specific performance, quiet title actions, assault, wrongful death, adoptions, termination of parental rights and breach of fiduciary duty litigation.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: More than 200, mostly non-jury, and eight jury cases.
Number of cases on appeal: 13
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:
Describe any pro bono legal work you have done including dates - My pro bono work has consisted primarily of performing free services for clients referred to me by existing clients who were unable to pay for my services.
Give any other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating your application: The supportive feedback I have received has encouraged me to follow up my commitment to move in a different direction to further my desire to serve the citizens of Manitowoc County by applying my experience and education to decide legal matters brought before the Circuit Court.*
Why I want to be a judge – My broad range of practical experience, education and training will allow me to control the full presentation of matters for efficient use of judicial resources within the practical fiscal limits available. The most important reason I wish to become a judge at this time is to use the experience I have gained in the most productive fashion to contribute back to the people of the county who have allowed me to serve them as their legal counsel for 35 years.
"My pro bono work has consisted primarily of performing free services for clients referred to me by existing clients who were unable to pay for my services." -- Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Gary L Bendix
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision -- City of Edgerton v. Geberak Casualty Co. of Wisconsin
The City of Edgerton decision I believe was the worst decision. In attempting to apply the previous decisions of the court, the Supreme Court took an extremely limited view of the term "damages" in applying it to the new expanding area of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA) when a party was sent a potentially responsible party letter. I believe that the business community and the many individuals who operated businesses prior to the enactment of CERCLA had a reasonable belief that the types of claims set forth in a potentially responsible party letter gave rise to "damages" that they would have expected to be covered by their insurance, particularly in light of a lay person's belief that the activities and actions that they undertook were in most cases completely legal at the time they were taken. The incorrect analysis in applying the existing definitions of "damages" to the new expanding arena of CERCLA deprived the individuals' insured and the
business community of the certainty to which they should have been entitled. It resulted in substantial adverse economic effects upon businesses that were forced to either give up protection under their policies or take substantially diminished recoveries from their insurers. This had a much broader reaching effect than had been anticipated and for approximately eight years I believe it had an adverse effect on the economy.
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision -- Johnson Controls v. Employers Insurance of Wausau
I believe, however, on the other hand, the reversal of the decision in the City of Edgerton case that came about through the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson Controls helped to reestablish the required equity between the insurance companies and the insureds and particularly the insured business community. It recognized that the governmental action taken by the potentially responsible party letters did create an adversarial arena in which an insured should be protected to the full extent that its policies allowed protection, after consideration of policy exclusions.
*Yes, we can be grateful that circuit court judges do not write much.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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