"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: Karl R. Hanson
Appointed to: Rock County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Feb. 2, 2018 (Up for election in spring 2019)
Law school – University of Wisconsin
Master's Degree – Western Kentucky University
Undergrad – United State Military Academy
High School – Oregon High, Oregon, WI
Sept 2017 – present – Assistant attorney general, Wisconsin Department of Justice
July 2015 – August 2017 – Attorney (arbitrator/hearing examiner/mediator),Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission
July 2014 - July 2015 – Attorney, Office of State Employment Relations
2010 - 2014 – Attorney, Nowlan & Mouat LLP, Janesville
Wisconsin State Bar
U.S. District Court-Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court-Eastern District of Wisconsin
Rock County Bar Association, Treasurer (2013 - 2014)
James Doyle American Inns of Court
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings:
Represented state before state and federal courts and administrative agencies as assistant attorney general; represented state in administrative proceedings as lawyer with the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations. Litigated civil cases as attorney at
Nowlan & Mouat.
All of my litigation experience has included investigation of the claims, evaluation of the
claims and defenses, and consultation with the client regarding the merits of the case. At
scheduling conferences, I worked to establish advantageous parameters for management
of the case.
When defending a case, I filed appropriate answers. In some cases, I found it necessary to
move for more definitive pleadings from the plaintiff or appellant (in administrative
proceedings). When appropriate, I prepared and argued motions for summary judgment
or to dismiss the case. ...
At hearings and trials, I presented my client's case. In one matter, this included jury selection and pretrial matters regarding voir dire and jury instructions. My representation at hearing or trial in cases included making an opening statement, examination of witnesses, and the introduction of exhibits. In some instances I called and examined adverse witnesses. I defended against objections to testimony and the admission of exhibits, based on the rules of evidence. When necessary I rehabilitated the testimony of witnesses after cross-examination. During cross-examination, I appropriately defended my witnesses. During the opposing party’s case-in-chief, I made necessary objections based upon the rules of evidence and cross-examined witnesses. ...
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 1; non-jury, 10; arbitration (no number given); administrative bodies, 4.
Cases on appeal: Two.
If fewer than five cases, describe:
1. Town of Bradford v. David G. Merriam, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Case No. 2010 AP 1759. Another attorney litigated the matter before the Rock County circuit court. I drafted the appeal documents and briefs. To do so, I conducted additional research and prepared the briefs filed on behalf of the Town of Bradford. The town claimed that a mobile home unit within a mobile home park encroached into a town road's right of way. In 1981, the roadbed moved to the north, away from the mobile home park. The town argued that the former right of way, which was still used by utilities, was never abandoned. ... The court of appeals upheld the circuit court's decision and also held that the town's ordinance regulating the mobile home park was a zoning ordinance and not an exercise of the town's police powers. As a result, the individual units within the mobile home park constituted nonconforming uses and the town could not require the removal of any unit in the park.
2. 3 Rivers Advertising, Inc. v. Anthony J. Augelli, Jr., Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Case No. 2010 AP 2295. Another attorney litigated the matter before the Richland County circuit court. I drafted the appeal documents and briefs. To do so, I conducted additional research and prepared the briefs filed on behalf of 3 Rivers Advertising, Inc. 3 Rivers was the owner of a billboard sign erected on real estate leased from another party. The real estate owner sold his land to Augelli. Augelli subsequently claimed that he owned the billboard. The Richland County circuit court agreed, ruling that the roadside billboard itself, labeled with a visible tag and the owner’s contact information, was not sufficient notice that it was owned by someone other than the seller of the real estate (whose agent, deceased at the time of trial, allegedly misrepresented the sign’s ownership). The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's ruling and essentially held that if a lessee does not record its interests with the register of deeds, it cannot protect those interests. This holding disregarded a long history of case law and statutes that recognized notice of a party's interest in land through open and notorious physical occupation. A billboard marked with the contact information of its owner was held to be insufficient notice of that interest. As a result, the purchaser of the real estate, Augelli, obtained ownership of 3 Rivers’ billboard.
Three most significant cases in which you were involved:
1. In the Estate of Jacob Egerstaffer, Rock County Case No. 12 PR 338.
... I represented this client as her only attorney on a pro bono basis because I considered the imbalance of power so significant and because the other party attempted
to use the mechanics of the legal process to crush my client's ability to assert her statutory property interests.
After her husband of ten years died, my client attempted to settle his estate with his family and children from a prior marriage. The family retained an attorney and attempted to eliminate her interest in the estate. They further attempted to classify all of the couple's property as the husband's individual property in order to disregard her marital property interests in the assets.
If I had not become involved in this case, the family would have likely succeeded. It was necessary to prevail at two separate bench trials in order to protect my client's property interests. She obtained nothing in this matter beyond what was plainly hers according to her late-husband’s will and statutory authority. Although my client's interests were fully protected after two years of litigation, this case unfortunately exemplified how the legal system can be misused to harm others.
2. Wisconsin Department of Corrections v. Mark Peterson, Wisconsin Employment
Relations Decision No. 35031-A.
I litigated this matter before an administrative agency and wrote the brief upon which the case was ultimately decided in favor of the state. In this matter, a long term Department of Corrections employee made threats to a supervisor and harassed two female coworkers.
In presenting this case, I worked through several challenges. The most significant was the fear that Peterson created in critical witnesses. One of the state's primary witnesses had obtained an injunction against Peterson. As a result, the hearing examiner would not allow that victim to testify at the hearing. The examiner reasoned that if Peterson remained in the room to confront his accuser at hearing, he would be in violation of the injunction. I successfully argued for admission of the witness's testimony from her injunction hearing (as the witness was unavailable to testify due to the examiner's order). Both women victimized by Peterson were scared to testify and felt threatened by him. Not only did I have to prepare for the effective presentation of the case, I had to gain the trust of the victims and create a secure environment for the testimony of one.
The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission upheld the discharge of the employee. (Atty. William Ramsey’s name appears on the final decision issued in this matter because he wrote a brief to the Commission regarding certain objections to the hearing examiner’s proposed decision. I litigated the case as the sole attorney representing the State’s interests from the initial pleadings through hearing and briefed the Department of Corrections’ argument-in-chief.)
3. Myra B. Sarow vs. Marvin C. Vike et al, Rock County Case No. 12 CV 602, and In the Estate of Lyle Sarow, Rock County Case No. 12 PR 109.
In these cases, I represented a client in a matter involving the transfer of real property using a non-probate transfer on death designation. The case involved a client with diminished capacity, undue influence, and the interpretation of a statute not examined by an appellate court at that time. In this matter, I worked as co-counsel under the direction of a more senior lead attorney. I handled much of this case prior to trial, including discovery, contested motions, and legal research and writing. After a bench trial, the matter subsequently went to the court of appeals in Myra Sarow v. Marvin Vike and Constance Vike, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Case No. 14 AP 1476.
The case was significant primarily for the intersection of Wisconsin's marital property law and a relatively new statute permitting the transfer of real estate by a transfer on death designation filed with the Register of Deeds. Wisconsin is unique for its system of marital property laws that allow for the creation of property rights without the change of an asset’s title. The newer statute, permitting the transfer of real property by a transfer on death designation, does not meaningfully account for potential marital property interests when real estate is transferred. Laws enacted with limited reference and compatibility to the marital property law pose significant dangers for individuals. I believe this case was significant because it should have clarified how marital property rights affect such laws.
The Old Testament commands: “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” – Rock County Circuit Judge Karl R. Hanson
All runs for elective office:
Municipal judge on the Municipal Court for the Towns of Milton, Harmony and Lima:
Primary and general elections in Spring 2017: elected to office with 64.59% of votes (between two candidates).
Judicial or non-partisan candidates that you have publicly endorsed in the last six years:
1. Hon. James Daley, Rock County Circuit Court, Branch 1
2. Hon. Barbara McCrory, Rock County Circuit Court, Branch 7
3. Hon. Patience Roggensack, Wisconsin Supreme Court
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 your application.
1. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) - volunteer ombudsman / mediator (2010 - present)
2. West Point Society of Wisconsin (alumni association) - vice president (2015 - present)
3. Hope Lutheran Church, Milton, Wisconsin - finance committee chair and member of
Church Council (2013-present); confirmation class small group leader (2010 - present)
4. Team Red White and Blue (Veteran/Community Engagement Charity) - Board of
Directors, Madison Chapter (2015 - present)
5. Rock County Bar Association - executive committee (2011 – 2014) and treasurer (2013 – 2014)
6. Rock County Leadership Development Academy - Board of Directors (2013 – 2014;
elected Vice President in the summer of 2014, but unable to accept office)
7. Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation - Board of Directors (2010 – 2012); Emeritus
Director (2013 – present)
Pro bono legal work in the last five years: Applicant cited the case of a widow's property rights included in answer to a previous question.
In a second pro bono matter, I represented the widow of a soldier who had served under my command in Iraq. He tragically took his own life several years after we returned from Iraq. After his death, I assisted my client with the non-probate transfer of assets and termination of the soldier's property interests.
The soldier's mother blamed the widow for her son's suicide and subsequently filed two legal actions against her. One was a small claims action and the other was a family law action for the enforcement of grandparent visitation. I represented my client in the small claims action and negotiated a favorable resolution for her. I attempted to resolve the family law action through mediation, but was not successful. I provided counsel to my client, to the point that I felt a more experienced, local attorney was needed due to the direction of the case.
In a third pro bono matter, I represented the church I attend when it was joined as a party in a foreclosure action by error. I successfully obtained a dismissal of the church as a party.
Why I want to be a judge – When I accepted an appointment to West Point, I committed myself to a lifetime of serving my country and community. Since leaving the military, the most rewarding service I have undertaken has been as a municipal judge, hearing examiner, and arbitrator. Over the past two years I have enjoyed the challenges of these positions and found success in them. I attribute my success in these positions to my demeanor as much as to my legal skill and decision-making ability. I want to be a Rock County circuit court judge because it’s the best way for me to apply my skills in service to my community.
Best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last 30 years – Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Before I became an attorney, I had the honor to serve our nation as a soldier. I literally
and figuratively saluted the American flag. In one of the hardest moments of my life, I
presented a folded American flag to the nine year old daughter of soldier who served
under my command. He died tragically of a drug overdose several years after we returned from Iraq. I love the American flag. I believe that what it represents is more important than my life. It breaks my heart to hear that someone has burned an American flag in an act of protest. That act is disrespectful to the outstanding Americans who willingly followed my orders and went into harm’s way in Bosnia and Iraq.
Despite my personal feelings, one of the best decisions given by the U.S. Supreme Court in the last thirty years is Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989). In Johnson, a bare majority invalidated state laws that prohibited desecration of the American flag. A year later, in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), the same majority struck down a similar federal law on identical grounds.
It is not the judiciary’s role to legislate from the bench and some questions brought into
courts are best left to be resolved by the legislative bodies elected by the people. That
said, when laws conflict, and particularly with the individual rights guaranteed by the
Constitution, the courts appropriately act to safeguard such liberties. Johnson is an
example of the court’s proper function to protect individual liberty.
Justice Scalia did not write an opinion in Johnson. He joined the majority opinion. In the
years after, however, he defended the opinion relying on his originalist view of the
Constitution. In several public addresses, Scalia demonstrated his commitment to the
Constitution despite his personal views against flag desecration. This represents the
central value that a judge must demonstrate – a commitment to the Constitution and rule
of law despite any personal opinion or bias.
The Court’s majority opinion correctly found that Johnson’s conduct was expressive. While not necessarily entitled to the same protection as spoken or written word, expressive speech is protected by the First Amendment. The holding in Johnson is correct, but the Court’s decision is lacking because it did not address the passion that the issue of flag desecration presents. I find Justice Kennedy’s concurrence more appropriate to the issue.
In his concurrence, Kennedy appropriately commented that the Court should rarely “pause to express distaste for the result [of a decision], perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision.” He continued, “[Johnson] is one of those rare cases.” As a soldier who defended the flag, I agree with Kennedy that, despite my personal views, “the flag protects those who hold it in contempt”. As an attorney and a municipal judge, I respect the judiciary’s role in safeguarding individual liberties and applying the law honestly and dispassionately, even when it is distasteful to do so.
Worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last 30 years – Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ... represents the continuation – by a jump – of a trend toward redefining the requirement of “public use” in the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. In Kelo, the Supreme Court minimized the protections guaranteed to individuals.
The taking of private land for a school, road, or stadium clearly provides a public use. A
private owner may accrue benefits from its operation of a railroad or stadium, but the
benefits to the general public, able to use a transportation network or large venue, are
more significant. In Kelo, the seizure of residential properties to allow for private
commercial and residential development does not provide such a public use. The
properties at issue were not blighted, posing a threat to the community, or necessary for
development truly open to the public. The public did not obtain access to the condemned
land. No school, stadium, or transportation infrastructure was built.
The majority opinion recites the gradual erosion of what the words “public use” mean.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution plainly states, “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” A line of decisions since 1896 has redefined “public use” to mean “public purpose.” The difference is more than semantic. In Kelo, private economic development, with only the potential for ancillary job creation and tax base growth, became a sufficient public purpose to allow a governmental body to seize land from one owner and transfer it to another private owner. This definition is a far stretch from the original and plain meaning of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, providing that condemned land must be put to use by the public.
Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion represents the danger presented by judges excusing
intrusive governmental action by extolling its apparent virtues. He ultimately proposes
that governmental action can be legitimized through a test subject to minimum scrutiny.
The test is described in such a way that nearly any governmental body could succeed over
a private citizen’s property rights by carefully orchestrating the chronology of a taking
action and merely guessing that it will be a profitable venture.
Justice O’Connor, in dissent, flatly declared that the majority opinion “effectively…
delete[d] the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause.” She correctly starts her
analysis with the presumption that every word in the Takings Clause has an independent
meaning and is not used unnecessarily or needlessly. O’Connor’s conclusion that,
“[g]overnment may compel an individual to forfeit her property for the public’s use, but
not for the benefit of another private person” is based upon a proper application of the
Takings Clause. The properties were taken in Kelo, because the public might, someday, enjoy a speculative and ancillary benefit. I agree with O’Connor that such a taking is not for a public use.
Judicial philosophy: Applicant describes in detail the elements that are included in the statement that "respect is the cornerstone of my judicial philosophy." Those elements include respect for the rule of law; respect for the separation of powers; respect for the parties; respect for the court; respect for the jury; respect for victims and witnesses; and respect for individual rights.
The Old Testament commands: “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” Lev. 19:15. I have that verse printed on the reverse-side of my nameplate on the bench at the Municipal Court for the Towns of Milton, Harmony and Lima to keep this philosophy of respect constantly in my view.
Describe any other information you feel would be helpful to your application:
One of Judge James Daley’s most significant contributions to the Rock County Circuit Court has been the creation of Wisconsin’s first Veteran’s Treatment Court. Judge Daley and several community partners established this treatment court in 2009. This unique court offers a second chance, under intensive supervision, to struggling veterans. The Veteran’s Treatment Court uses more traditional drug and mental health court models to serve veterans struggling with addiction, mental illness, and/or co-occurring disorders. The court promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability.
As a veteran, I would like to serve as the judge presiding over the Veteran’s Treatment
Court. Status as a veteran is certainly not a requirement for the judge on this treatment
court. Nonetheless, I believe there is a unique bond among veterans that this court
capitalizes upon to reduce the incidences of incarceration for those who previously served so faithfully. A judge who can relate to another veteran’s experiences, or just to the hardships and rewards of military service, is in a unique position to influence success in the population served by this treatment court.
As discussed above in this application, my primary reason for seeking a judicial appointment in Rock County is my desire to serve my community. Service as a judge on the Veteran’s Treatment Court would additionally fulfill my continued commitment to the men and women that served our nation just as I did.
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