"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about former Gov. Scott Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications. While Walker has left office, WJI will continue to profile his appointees who are still in office. We also will profile Gov. Tony Evers' judicial appointees.
Name: Maureen Morris Martinez
Appointed to: Racine County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 4, 2018, elected to a six-year term in April 2019
Law School – Marquette University Law School
Graduate School – University of Illinois – Urbana
Undergraduate – St. Mary's College of Notre Dame
Marshall University, Huntington, W.V.
Recent legal employment:
January 2017 - present – Deputy district attorney, Racine County District Attorney's Office
February 1997 - January 2017 – Assistant district attorney, Racine County District Attorney's Office
State of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Racine County Bar Association
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Assigned to a sensitive crime caseload that includes homicides and sexual assaults. Previously directed children in need of protective services for 15 years. Involved in administrative and personnel matters.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 300; non-jury, no answer; arbitration, no answer; administrative bodies, no answer.
Cases on appeal: I have litigated a number of cases on appeal.
The application asks for the names and case numbers of the appeals and Martinez listed three.
Three most significant cases: Martinez did not list specific cases and did not give the requested case numbers and citations.
By far the most important cases that I have litigated have been the termination of parent rights cases. They are not important as to the legal issues, but more so for the individual children and families that are affected.... I have conducted countless termination of parental rights trials and was successful in them all.
My work with the Veteran's Court Treatment Team is also very significant. Through this court's work and the very hard work put in by the veterans, we have literally brought veterans back from the brink of despair.
Previous runs for political office: None.
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization:
Supported Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson in two campaigns. Both times I was on her campaign committee and participated in the "boots on the ground" duties of campaigning. During her campaign for district attorney I coordinated the letters to the editor campaign. I also spent countless hours with and on behalf of Tricia "working the room" for her.
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last six years:
Judge Wynne Laufenberg
Judge Robert Repischak
District Attorney Patricia Hanson
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:
Tutor for middle school students at John Paul Academy
Former Board president and Board member, YWCA in Racine
Member, Racine County Child Death Review Team
Member, Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Investigation Team, Racine County
Member, Drug Endangered Child team for Racine County
Former member of All Saints Health Care Systems, member of the Physicians Activities Committee
Previous member and co-chair of the Racine County Family Violence Community Coalition.
President of the PTA for Holy Name School
Describe any significant pro bono legal work in the last five years: Pro bono work not allowed due to her position.
Why I want to be a judge –
My ambition within my law career has been a slow progression. When I began law school in the fall of 1992,1 had (redacted) and a (redacted). My husband had a demanding career as an (redacted) and I was leaving a career that I loved, school social work. I felt a calling however and I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a lawyer. I studied at my kitchen table and took the entrance exam and was accepted by Marquette University Law' School. With (redacted) children at home, Marquette was the only school I could attend and I started law school.
As hard as it was I LOVED THE LAW. I loved everything about law school, I had previously set as a goal for myself to be an autonomous life-long learner; what better way to do that then be a lawyer as the law is ever-changing.
I also went to law school with the ambition to become a prosecutor.... I absolutely love litigation; one of my favorite places is the courtroom.
In my efforts to be an autonomous life-long learner, as comfortable as I am as a prosecutor, I believe I am ready to take the next step and explore new areas of the law as a judge. I know I have the knowledge, skills and judgment to be a fair and impartial judge. I think I have an excellent reputation within the legal community as an honest, ethical, hard-working and talented attorney. I am always ready to listen, however, I never waiver from my cannon (sic) of holding people accountable for what they do.
The fact that this father was unaware of the existence of this child until the government informed him is not a reason to excuse his lack of concern for his child. ... – Racine County Circuit Judge Maureen Morris Martinez
Best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last thirty years – Crawford v. Washington, 2014
This case was authored by Justice Anton (sic) Scalia and has had a tremendous impact on the practice of criminal law. Michael Crawford and his wife Sylvia set out to confront Kenneth Lee, a man who Crawford believed raped his wife. On August 5, 1999, Lee was stabbed in his apartment. Crawford and his wife were both interrogated by the police. Crawford eventually confessed that he and Sylvia went in search of Lee and found him at his apartment. A fight ensued and Crawford stabbed Lee in the torso and in the process cut his hand. The State sought to introduce Sylvia’s statement so as to counter-act Crawford’s self-defense claim. The Court held that out-of-court statements by testimonial witnesses are barred under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause with one exception. If the statements were elicited by the police, the witness is unavailable and the defendant has had prior opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. The analysis by Justice Scalia was well-reasoned and a solid example of strict construction.
I am currently prosecuting a case where the Crawford decision is giving me great difficulty. On May 7, 2017, Harry C. was standing on his front porch when a car pulled up driven by Dominique K. with Donte S. as a passenger. Dominique K. got out of the car, walked up to Harry C. and shot him dead. Both men ran from the scene. Ultimately Donte S. was taken into custody and told police that Dominique K. shot Harry C. Eight months later, before trial, Donte S. was killed by police during a traffic stop Dominique K. had previously disappeared for 9 months. The State attempted to introduce the recorded statement of Donte S. to no avail. Crawford prevented it. As much as I didn’t like the result of Crawford, I continue to admire the man that wrote it and the basis upon which it was made. ...
As a Judge I cannot be let personal preference, or bias, drive decisions. It is important to me to stay true to my principles, although I may not like the result, I still have to uphold the law; just like Justice Anton (sic) Scalia.
Worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last thirty years – State v. Bobby G., 2007
In my opinion this is the worst example of “judicial activism” I can recall reading. The facts of the case are simple: a child, Marquette, was born in August 2003. He was very premature, had many medical issues and never lived with either parent. From the hospital Marquette was placed with foster parents who Very quickly became committed to adopting this medically fragile child. A CHIPS petition was filed and ultimately a TPR (termination of parental rights) petition was filed in June of 2004. The mother had named three men as possible fathers; the last one she named was Bobby G. She did not at the time know his address or last name.
When he was ultimately located by the government, he didn’t make his first appearance until January 2005. The state filed a partial summary judgment motion in June 2007 alleging that Bobby G had failed to establish a substantial parental relationship with Marquette. The Circuit court granted the motion for summary judgment and the court of appeals affirmed it; however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the circuit court decision. The controversy was whether the court should consider the efforts made on the part of the father since discovering his paternity and after the filing of the TPR petition. The basis for the decision which was written by Justice Shirley Abrahamsen (sic) was a variety of reasons that required resurrecting the legislative history of on no less than 3 changes to (the statute)....
The words of (the statute) have clear meaning. The jury instructions require the factfinder must answer but one question. At the time of filing of the petition, is there a substantial parental relationship between a (father) and a (child)?
The proper place for the evidence of a father’s efforts is during phase two of the TPR proceeding. Although I can sympathize with the father who suddenly discovers he is a father, I don’t think that moment is where his responsibility starts. Each person must be responsible for their own actions; it is each person’s responsibility to ensure against unwanted pregnancy. This child was created by two people who barely knew each other, let alone had a relationship. The fact that this father was unaware of the existence of this child until the government informed him is not a reason to excuse his lack of concern for his child, but instead reflects the complete lack of relationship between the two.
This decision is an example of judicial activism at its worst.
Judicial philosophy – There is no room for activism from the bench....
One of the more frustrating things that I came up against as a litigator was a constantly moving ball. This is not to say that there is no room for creative arguments or a new application of the law to various facts. Keeping in mind precedent, I believe it is important for a judge to strictly apply the law as written. Litigants need to be able to rely on the consistency based on law and precedents.
Overriding everything is the importance of protecting the people of the county. We have a wealth of freedom in this country; and the covenant we have with each other is that we all must take personal responsibility. That being said, I am well aware of the effects that childhood traumas and adverse childhood experiences have on people and there is room for compassion from the bench. I would strive to strike the right balance.
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