"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: Robert S. Repischak
Appointed to: Racine County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Feb. 23, 2017 (up for election in spring, 2019).
Law School – Hamline University
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
High School – Martin Luther High School, Greendale
1998 - present – Racine County assistant district attorney
2001 - present – Town of Norway, municipal prosecutor
2015 - present – Town of Dover, municipal prosecutor
State Bar of Wisconsin
Eastern District of Wisconsin
Western District of Wisconsin
Racine County Bar Association
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: While in private practice I litigated a number of small and large claim actions. I litigated both on behalf of plaintiffs as well as defendants. I also litigated a number of family court actions. I have also participated in U.S. Bankruptcy Court actions, litigating matters concerning preferential transfers, etc.
The vast majority of my litigation experience, however, has occurred as an Assistant District Attorney. In that role, I have litigated between 90 and 100 cases, ranging from simple traffic matters and misdemeanors, to sexual assaults (child and adult victims), robberies, burglaries and homicides. I have also litigated collateral civil actions, such as forfeiture claims that resulted from controlled substance violations.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 90-100; non-jury, approximately six.
Cases on appeal: NA
List and describe the three most significant cases in which you were involved:
1. State v. Gary Becker – I was the prosecutor for this case. This matter involved the then-mayor of the City of Racine. The defendant was engaging in online chats with what he thought was a 14 year old female. He agreed to meet her for sexual purposes. Upon arriving at the prearranged meeting spot, he was arrested and charged with a number of sexual based offenses, as well as misconduct in public office. He was eventually convicted of attempted second degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement. This case was significant in that the City of Racine lost its sitting mayor. It was also significant that our office vigorously pursued this matter and showed that no citizen, even the mayor, was above the law.
2. State v. Samuel C. Johnson – I was the prosecutor for this case. This case involved the defendant sexually assaulting (a minor girl) over a period of time. The unusual aspect of this case was that the defendant was a well known billionaire business leader in Racine. His family's business endeavors employed hundreds of local citizens and was a leading philanthropic force in the community. While initially cooperative, the victim eventually refused to cooperate with the State and also failed to provide her therapy records which were requested by the defendant. She and her mother also moved to North Carolina and refused to voluntarily return to Wisconsin to testify. In addition, the State sought to obtain the defendant's treatment records from a clinic in Arizona, whereat he confessed to the sexual assaults. This matter was not only litigated in the State of Wisconsin, but it was also litigated through the superior court of the State of Arizona, eventually ending up in the Arizona Supreme Court. The extradiction of the victim and mother were also litigated in the courts of North Carolina. The therapy record issue eventually ended up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. ... In the end, without the victim's cooperation, the State was forced to settle on two counts of 4th degree sexual assault. The defendant was sentenced to 4 months in the county jail. Again, the dogged prosecution of this matter showed the community that no one was above the law.
3. State v. David Larsen – I was the co-prosecutor for this matter. This case involved the defendant beating his ex-wife nearly to death, kidnapping her and hiding stuffing (sic) her in a large barrel. He transported the barrel/victim to a storage facility in Palatine, Illinios (sic), wherein he locked her inside during sub-freezing weather. During the hours immediately after the crime, I assisted officers at the defendant's house (crime scene) as well and assisting them in drafting and obtaining search warrants. Through excellent police work, the victim was located and rescued. She sustained substantial injury, including the loss of all of her toes as a result of frostbite. She was eventually able to participate in the prosecution of the defendant, which lead (sic) to a conviction for attempted first degree intentional homicide. As a result of this case, the victim Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, has become a nationally known champion for victims of domestic violence and changes in the law geared to protect victims of domestic violence.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns in the last six years:
Racine County judicial candidates
Michael Nieskes – volunteer and donor.
Timothy Boyle – volunteer and donor.
Trish Hansen – volunteer and donor.
Eugene Gasiorkiewicz – volunteer and donor.
Also donated to Milwaukee County judicial campaign for Paul Rifelj.
Endorsed all of the above candidates and Racine County judicial candidate Mark Nielsen.
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:
Waterford Lions Club
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church & Love Inc. meal program
Waterford High School mock trial legal coach
Describe any pro bono legal work in the last five years: NA
Why I want to be a judge — … In 1997, I was recruited by the Racine County District Attorney's Office. While I miss the diversity of private practice, I became enthusiastically adept at prosecuting sensitive and violent crimes. The majority of my case load focuses on sexual assaults, child abuse, child pornography, robberies, homicides, etc. As a prosecutor, I have litigated between 90 and 100 cases and 100's of motions. I have removed seriously violent and predatory individuals from our streets. As a result of my experience, I have honed a keen sense of examining the merits of a case. As a prosecutor, I have a heightened responsibility to assess each case with thoroughness, keeping in mind that the impact of my decisions may be great. Consequently, I frequently utilize discretion that is much broader and more significant than most other attorneys. ...
I also believe that my litigation experience will be a great addition to our bench. It is interesting to note that many of our current judges do not have an extensive litigation background. I believe my trial experience has equipped me with the skills and knowledge to address a wide variety of issues that may arise in court and will translate into fostering an effective and efficient courtroom setting.
The effect of McDonald, coupled with Heller, cannot be overstated. ... The McDonald decision, once and for all, put to bed the argument ... that the Second Amendment only applied to the maintenance of militias. - Racine County Judge Robert S. Repischak
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years — McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)
The case I have chosen is the second of a one-two punch combination confirming the Second Amendment's protection of an individual's right to privately keep and bear arms. … In McDonald, the Court addressed loccal (sic) ordinances which effectively banned virtually all handgun possessions by private citizens. Earlier, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the Court struck down a District of Columbia ordinance which banned the possession of handguns in private homes. The Heller decision affirmatively resolved the question of whether possession of a firearm for self-defense was the "central component" of the Second Amendment, and thus a constitutionally protected right. Heller expanded the protections of the Second Amendment to private citizens. What it did not resolve, however, was the question of whether the Second Amendment was applicable to the States. The McDonald decision completed that which Heller started, by answered (sic) that question in the affirmative; finally applying the Second Amendment to the States, on a level commensurate with that of the other first Eight Amendments.
The effect of McDonald, coupled with Heller, cannot be overstated. First, the decision ended a dry spell of Second Amendment jurisprudence. ... The McDonald decision, once and for all, put to bed the argument espoused in Miller that the Second Amendment only applied to the maintenance of militias.
McDonald opened up the Second Amendment protections to private citizens and divorced the militia limitation from it. Further, it expanded Heller by finally applying the Second Amendment to the States, via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Secondly, the decision is a wonderful and historical read. Justices Alito and Thomas laid out a clear and informative history of the thoughts and philosophy that fostered the fundamental concept of an individual's right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. The decision recognizes that self-defense is a basic right and is a fundamental component of the Second Amendment. …
The majority opinion, together with the concurring opinion of Justice Thomas, are important because they address some of the arguments advanced by those who would continue to limit the Second Amendment to the maintenance of militias and deprive citizens of their right to self-defense by keeping and bearing arms. The historical and philosophical arguments contained in those opinions are a sound counter to the specious argument of those espousing "gun control" and the desire to limit the Second Amendment.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years
The decisions in State v. Lynch 2016 WI 66 (2016) and State v. Johnson, 348 Wis. 2d. 450 (2013) are disappointing; not for what they accomplished, but for what they ultimately failed to accomplish. In each case, the Court had an opportunity to correct the misinterpretation of Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39 (1987) that tainted the decision of State v. Shiffra, 175 Wis. 2d 600, 499 N.W. 719 (Ct. App. 1993). However, in each case the majority of the Justices failed to agree to affirm, modify or reverse a court of appeals decision dealing with the effects of Shiffra. The Shiffra decision has not only vexed courts, like Lynch and Johnson, it also has deprived many victims of justice.
The issues that have caused lingering problems center on an all too acceptable premise that (1) a defendant has a right to demand an in camera review of a victim's private and privileged records, and (2) the only sanction for a victim's refusal to release said privileged records is to prohibit that victim from testifying. These flawed presumptions have led to unwarranted intrusions into individual, non-governmental, privileged records of victims. They have also acted to deprive victims of their ability to seek justice. In Ritchie, the defendant sought confidential files from a state protective agency. The files were deemed confidential by statute, but could be accessed by a court order. Using a Due Process analysis and relying upon Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the Court determined that the State was obligated to tum over the records, in part, because they were in its possession. Limiting the Brady obligation to a government entity was appropriate. Had Shiffra limited the defendant's right to privileged records solely in the government's possession, all would have been well. However, Shiffra expanded a defendant's reach and created a new right to access individual victim's privileged information well beyond the intention of Brady. As a result, an individual may no longer feel secure in the privacy of their personal information once they have become a victim of a crime.
The Shiffra decision also imposed a draconian sanction upon victims for failing to release privileged records. If imposed, the sanction prohibits victims from testifying. This presents a victim with a difficult choice; either choose between keeping their privileged information private or forego his/her pursuit of justice. This sanction is often fatal to any prosecution in which a victim refuses to release privileged information. Such a sanction does not take into account a defendant's successful attempt to convince, coerce or cajole a victim into refusing to cooperate, as was the case in Johnson. A sanction mechanism by which a defendant can successfully prevent a victim from testifying thwarts the pursuit of justice.
The Court could have remedied these issues in Lynch and Johnson, but by failing to reach a majority compromise, the Court has kept in place a means to deprive some victims of justice, at the expense of maintaining their privacy.
Judicial philosophy — Applicant says that his judicial philosophy is defined by the following factors: restraint, know your limits, words and actions have meaning, and be respectful.
I have developed a certain level of expertise in my field. However, I will be the first to admit that I am not well versed in certain areas of the law. For instance, it has been many years since I have dealt with a UCC financing issue or a condemnation by use of eminent domain. As such, even when addressing an issue within my field of expertise, I remind myself that I am not the smartest person in the room. By doing so, it allows me to keep an open mind and to listen to those who have other ideas and thus expand my fund of knowledge.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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