"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about former Gov. 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 are profiling Gov. Tony Evers' judicial appointees.
Walker appointee Paul C. Dedinsky, profiled below, has been in the news because of questions about his residency.
Name: Paul C. Dedinsky
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 26, 2018 (Up for election in April 2020)
Graduate School (Ph.D.) – Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee
Law School – University of Wisconsin Law School
Undergraduate – Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska
High School – Marquette University High School, Milwaukee
Recent legal employment:
2017 - present – Chief legal counsel, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
1997-2017 – Assistant district attorney, Milwaukee County
State Bar Association
American Bar Association
St. Thomas More Society
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: As chief legal counsel for DATCP, experience in ethics, human resources, contracts, board governance, agency regulations, administrative rule-making; as assistant district attorney, experience in restorative justice, violence prevention, Children's Court, domestic violence prosecutions, drug treatment court, sensitive crimes, and misdemeanors; in private practice, experience in criminal defense, appellate, civil, and family matters.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 50; non-jury, 100; arbitration, no answer; administrative bodies, 10.
Cases on appeal: 50 in private practice.
Three most significant cases: (Dedinsky listed four)
State v. Joseph Hoeller - The case…originally surfaced as a disorderly conduct charge. We transformed the investigation of the matter which led to felony stalking charges, representing one of the first uses of the revised felony stalking statute by our office. The evidence encompassed a range of stalking of the victim at home and work. The stalker threatened violence towards the victim and her family members, utilizing a variety of means to stalk her: Property damage, the internet, text messaging, e-mail, phone calls, voicemail messages, and manipulation of their child. This case entailed leadership during the investigative stages, patience with the victim and her family, an understanding of stalker typology research and power/control dynamics, and an ability to effectively assess the lethality of the stalker in order to plan the victim’s future safety. After preparing a powerpoint (sic) for courtroom presentation during discovery / pre-trial strategy, the defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. For many years, the powerpoint presentation has been used to train law enforcement in stalking and domestic abuse relationship dynamics.
State v. Jon A. York - In 2002, I charged two parents with approximately 29 counts of child sexual abuse to their 8-year old daughter, drug manufacturing, possession of electric weapons, causing mental harm to a child, and possession of child pornography. The case involved lots of additional investigation and many complex legal challenges from lawyers relating to issues such as the legality of the search warrant and the defendant’s statement/confession law.
State v. Matthew Tyler – A child predator had worked or volunteered as a youth counselor at a boys’ residential treatment center, a church minister and Boy Scout troop leader, a college professor, and an underprivileged minority youth counselor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Piecing together decades of un-prosecuted sexual abuse allegations from aforementioned states across the country proved challenging. After over 100 phone calls and many hours of investigation, I secured the cooperation of several male sexual assault victims from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, whose patterns of victimization by the defendant were remarkably similar. Following the trial court’s approval of this compelling “other acts” evidence, the defendant pled guilty to his first felony sexual assault.
A SUCCESS STORY IN A CIVIL CONTEXT. In private practice in 1996, I successfully defended a father through a 3-day Termination of Parental Rights jury trial with many complicated factual and legal issues, as well as a complicated trial strategy. The prosecutor and guardian ad litem zealously sought the termination to no avail. I persuaded the jury to correctly decide the case in favor of the father, who had markedly turned around his life and closely bonded with his children. After the jury trial, an experienced prosecutor who observed the jury trial approached me and asked me if I would be willing to apply to the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office. Shortly thereafter, I decided to apply and was offered a position.
All previous runs for office: None
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization:
My wife and I are current volunteers at the Waukesha headquarters on Pearl Street from August 2018 to present.
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last six years:
Mark Gundrum, Brian Hagedorn, T. Christopher Dee, Thomas McAdams, and Robert Dehring.
Dedinsky listed five.
The two most significant writing pieces, in terms of sheer volume, include my published 500-page dissertation, entitled: "Experiencing Restorative Justice Practices in the Context of an Academic Course – A Phenomenological Mixed Methods Study (2012)" and the 575-page "Wisconsin Domestic Violence Prosecution Manual, 2004" for which I served as the editor and main author....
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:
St. Thomas More Society, Milwaukee, WI, Board of Directors, 2013-present. Organizer of the annual Youth Law Day at MU law school, 2009-present.
SOFA, Inc. (Saving Others For Archie), Board member, 2016-present.
St. Charles Parish (Hartland), parish members, 2000-present.
St. Joan of Arc Parish (Nashotah), parish members, 2002-present.
Lake Country Youth Baseball League, head coach for…7th / 8th grade boys baseball team, summer 2015. Served in an assistant capacity in prior years.
St. Clare Center for Catholic Life, Cardinal Stritch University 2015-present
Schoenstatt International Province & Retreat Center, Waukesha, WI, 2009-present.
Healing Ministry in the Roman Catholic Tradition, Inc., Board of Directors, 2011-2016.
St. Catherine’s Residence for Women, Milwaukee, committee member, 1994-1998
St. Aemilian’s Pre-School, Milwaukee, WI, non-profit board member, 1996-1999.
Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee, big brother, 1995-1997.
Describe any significant pro bono legal work in the last five years:
Helped develop restorative justice program for Oconomowoc High School.
Helped organization achieve non-profit status.
Helped unnamed southeastern Wisconsin school district deal with internal conflict.
Why I want to be a judge – I wish to serve as a circuit court judge because of the immense opportunity to influence and help litigants. I wish to act with firmness, intelligence, and fairness -- exercising caution and restraint, ever mindful and respectful of our legislative and executive branches of government.
I once worked for a leader of immense integrity and purpose, a man who inspired a deeper sense of purpose, vision, and mission within me. He advocated eloquently for justice. Years later, this same powerful message resonates within me. To me, an attorney is of limited value without adherence to a high moral purpose and mission.…
Best United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last thirty years – Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Burwell (2014)
The case addresses the tension between reproductive rights (pro-abortion) and proponents of religious liberty. However, most significantly, the decision also stands out as an example of the judicial branch of government restraining the executive branch's powers in favor of granting people owning for-profit entities the right to object to provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) based upon sincerely held religious beliefs.
In these cases, both business owners believed that life begins at conception and that any birth control method that could lead to the destruction of embryos would be morally wrong. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated that employers provide insurance coverage with its set of pre-determined provisions. It also required employers to pay for the services. Failure to pay would result in exorbitant penalties, according to the opinion (a major factor in the "substantial burden" standard analysis).
From the perspective of the business owners, the course of events presented a troubling set of circumstances. First, the government mandated that employers must provide insurance (which both companies already offered). Next, the government set the parameters for what the insurance policies must cover, including a full breadth of contraceptives. This position presents a major dilemma for many citizens across the country, morally offensive to some and violative of their religious beliefs. The government opted out religious groups and non-profits, ceding the moral and religious ground. However, HHS did not provide accomodations (sic) in the case of for-profit businesses. Failure to comply with its provisions would result in multi-million dollar penalties to the companies. So, the court's action effectively curtailed and restrained an ambitious piece of legislation and the executive branch's exercise over personally held moral and religious beliefs.
There is an additional reason why I find this decision to be significant. HHS went so far as to argue that the business owners' position was flawed. Even though HHS already had acknowledged the moral position for religious groups and non-profits, HHS argued that the business owners actually bore no moral culpability in paying for coverage. Instead, HHS maintained that the moral culpability fell upon the shoulders of those who actually decide to destroy their embryos. Justice Alito noted the inappropriateness of courts presuming to determine the plausibility of a given religious claim.
In determining that HHS' regulations imposing an obligation upon for-profit business owners violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the high court determined that the federal government must be considerate of the sincerely held religious beliefs of our citizenry. The case represents a major victory for proponents of religious freedom.
Worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion in the last thirty years
Before I begin, I must state that my choice of opinions is nothing close to the Dred Scott opinion. And I hesitate to raise my concerns at all, given that I am selecting an opinion written by one of my favorite U.S. Supreme Court Justices. However, I must admit that the case of Crawford v. Washington was a hard pill for me personally to swallow.
I spent two years creating the Domestic Violence Prosecution manual and launching a daylong training at the State Prosecutor Education Training in January 2004. The manual’s main thrust: To teach prosecutors how to prove cases in the absence of the presence of victims. On March 8, 2004, Crawford changed all that.
Following an abusive incident, many victims stay in unhealthy, even violent relationships. Sometimes out of love and other times out of fear, victims often recant, minimize the offense, or simply fail to appear on the day of trial, much to the benefit of the alleged offender.
Utilizing 24 years of Ohio v. Roberts precedent, the manual plotted a legal path for prosecutors to successfully proceed to trial in the absence of victims. Our work in Milwaukee drove up our conviction rates. We felt as if we were making a difference in keeping victims safe and holding offenders accountable. The DV Prosecution manual shared our work with prosecutors statewide.
As I reflect back on the Crawford decision over 14 years later, much of the opinion is now more agreeable to me. I do not have the space to discuss all of the intricacies of the Crawford decision. However, if I had Justice Scalia's ear at the time, I would have encouraged him to consider a few additional items.
First, Crawford presented a complicated framework, one that raised confusion in trial courts across the country. As the court in large part overruled Ohio v. Roberts, much of Justice Scalia's contention was that Ohio v. Roberts did not provide clarity and direction. Evidenced in a wave of confused litigation, it can hardly be argued that Crawford produced the desired clarity....
Crawford shifted the analysis to what out of court statements were testimonial versus non-testimonial. Unfortunately, the opinion left the definition of the word, “testimonial”, to "another day", which resulted in confusion....
Justice Scalia touted the protections afforded to defendants from the 6th Amendment’s confrontation clause. He championed testing the mettle of witnesses in the crucible of cross examination. However, prosecutors do not dissuade victims from appearing in court. Domestic abuse offenders dissuade victims from appearing and being subjected to cross examination (as well as direct examination).
In conclusion, I have come to terms with the Crawford decision and do acknowledge the importance of ensuring an individual's right to confront witnesses. Crawford protects the sanctity of this fundamental right. As for the domestic violence manual, it was revised in 2012 and remains a good resource for Wisconsin prosecutors.
The U.S. Supreme Court of the 1960s and 1970s was known for judicial activism. In lieu of deference to the will of policymakers, the court imposed its own will. In Wisconsin, just over ten years ago, our highest court gained a reputation for activism by imposing mandatory requirements upon the executive branch. – Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Paul C. Dedinsky
Judicial philosophy – Those who distance themselves from the language of the United States Constitution show their disdain for its words and the principles upon which it stands.…
Activist judges who maneuver into the policy-making realm of the legislative branch undermine the integrity of the roles and powers granted to the branches of government within the four corners of the very document –the Constitution – which they seek to analyze and interpret. Judges who exercise restraint show a solemn respect for the roles of each branch and the concept of separation of powers.
A loosely constructed interpretation of the U.S. Constitution lacks the certainty, predictability, and reliability necessary for a free society to espouse a common respect for order and the law….
The U.S. Supreme Court of the 1960s and 1970s was known for judicial activism. In lieu of deference to the will of policymakers, the court imposed its own will. In Wisconsin, just over ten years ago, our highest court gained a reputation for activism by imposing mandatory requirements upon the executive branch. The public knows when judges add language and meanings not found in the text of laws. Superimposing personal policy views under the guise of "interpreting" laws does more than disrespect the public. It endangers the Constitution.
Describe any other information you feel would be helpful to your application.
Should you decide to select me as the next Waukesha Circuit Court judge, I will be honored beyond measure. Be assured that I will be ever mindful of the fact that I represent not just myself and my family, but the Governor of the state of Wisconsin. Each time I interact with others on a personal or professional level, I will be doing so as Governor Walker's appointee. To serve in this capacity with that added measure of responsibility would be a tremendous duty….
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