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Wisconsin Supreme Court justice candidate surveys

6:02 PM, Feb. 11, 2013  |  Comments

Here are the survey responses from the candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. The top two candidates in the Feb. 19 primary advance to the April 2 general election.

Pat Roggensack (incumbent)

Age: 72

Legal experience: Supreme Court justice, 2003-present; Court of Appeals judge, 1996-2003; practicing lawyer, 1980-96; Wisconsin's Commissioner of the Uniform Laws Commission; member of the Wisconsin Judicial Council; member of the Supreme Court Finance Committee; member of the Committee for Public Trust and Confidence in the Courts; member of Rules Procedure Committee; fellow of American Bar Foundation.

Campaign website: www.roggensackforjustice.com

Why are you qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?

I'm qualified because of the depth and breadth of my legal experience. To explain, a large part of the job of a Supreme Court justice is to decide whether a judge on another Wisconsin court correctly applied the law. I have the best opportunity to make that call because, for nearly 17 years, I have worked as a judge. I know how judicial decision-making works, which improves the depth of review I provide. Also, the Supreme Court hears cases involving all areas of law. I have experience in all substantive areas of law.

What separates you from the other candidates?

I've worked as a judge for almost 17 years. Neither of my opponents has any judicial experience. My experience has taught me how judicial decision-making works from the inside. In addition, most of the cases that the Supreme Court reviews involve a decision by the Court of Appeals. I'm the only member of the Supreme Court who has served as a Court of Appeals judge; therefore, I provide a unique viewpoint during court discussions that neither of my opponents can replace. In addition, I have experience in a greater breadth of substantive areas of the law than either opponent.

What do you want to change about how the Supreme Court operates?

I would like to make the court more efficient in the release of its opinions to the public. I have had some success in improving the timeliness of opinion releases, but more can be done. I also would like to improve the Supreme Court rule-making process. We are working through various suggestions about how to manage this task more efficiently.

How should the public judge a Supreme Court justice?

I ask to be judged by the fair, neutral and independent decisions I have rendered during my almost 17 years as a judge and by my broad experience working in all substantive areas of the law. Experience matters. For example, when deciding whether another judge has correctly applied the law, it's best to have done the work of a judge yourself. In addition, 53 sheriffs from all across Wisconsin - Democrats and Republicans - have endorsed my candidacy because I have been a fair and even-handed justice.

Ed Fallone

Age: 48

Legal experience: associate professor, Marquette University Law School - expert in constitutional law, corporate law and criminal law; attorney, Gonzalez, Saggio & Harlan - represented clients in complex corporate litigation and shareholder lawsuits.

Campaign website: www.falloneforjustice.com

Why are you qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?

For my entire career, I've been fighting to ensure all people have equal justice before the law. I'm a law professor at Marquette University Law School, where I have been on the faculty for 20 years, teaching constitutional law, corporate law and criminal law. I have practiced law for 25 years, representing clients in complex litigation in federal and state courts. I'm active in the State Bar, serving on the committee that drafted the Wisconsin securities law and holding many leadership positions. I have advised Sen. Herb Kohl regarding the nomination of justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What separates you from the other candidates?

I would be the first Latino elected to the court. My heritage as the son of immigrants informs the way I see how the law should function for working families striving for the American dream. For example, I helped to get Centro Legal off its feet in Milwaukee. Centro Legal is a non-profit organization that provides free and low-cost legal services to working families. I'm also an expert in corporate law and white-collar crime, an area where the current court has almost no experience.

What do you want to change about how the Supreme Court operates?

I strongly oppose Justice Roggensack's successful move to take the Court's administrative hearings behind closed doors. The business of the court system should be done in the open, where the public can see it. Also, the members of the court just don't get along. I would bring a fresh face with none of the baggage that the current court carries from years of in-fighting. Re-electing Justice Roggensack would only continue the cycle of bad behavior.

How should the public judge a Supreme Court justice?

The public wants a court that's independent of politics and grants equal access to justice for all citizens. A Supreme Court justice should have the courage to stand up to the political pressure of a ruling before the court and not be influenced by special interests when it comes to the decisions that greatly affect Wisconsin families and businesses. The people want justices who hear cases individually and aren't pushing an agenda or trying to jam a ruling into a particular philosophy.

Vince Megna

Age: 68

Legal experience: I have specialized in lemon law and consumer protection since 1990, helping thousands of consumers in the last 23 years. I have four Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions and 20 Court of Appeals decisions, all of which have helped to shape and develop consumer protection law. The Washington Post called me "The King of Lemon Laws" (not self-proclaimed) and "Arguably, America's foremost lemon law lawyer."

Campaign website: www.VinceMegna.com

Why are you qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?

For 23 years, I have represented average people, working-class people, poor people. Voters need to have confidence in the work of the justices and that's not something they have now. Imagine waiting five years for your case to be heard, only to have justices who are at each others' throats - figuratively and literally - making that decision. My consumer advocacy and civil-rights beliefs have taught me the power of compassion, fair reasoning and the dogged determination to do the right thing. Those are traits needed to bring civility and decency back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

What separates you from the other candidates?

I have never represented a large corporation or the state. I'm not a politician disguised as a judge or a professor who represents big corporations in his side job. I will have the spirit of the ordinary citizens with me every day in fairly interpreting the law as a Supreme Court justice.

What do you want to change about how the Supreme Court operates?

Our Supreme Court has been bought and paid for by outside influences. Our court is a rubber stamp for the Republicans. How does this serve the ordinary people of Wisconsin? Where is their voice on the court? For 23 years, I have represented the people of Wisconsin, from all walks of life. Not big corporations. Not the state. David Koch has a voice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It's time the people of Wisconsin have a voice. I will be that voice. It's time to stop outside influence and billionaires from buying seats on the court.

How should the public judge a Supreme Court justice?

They should judge a candidate on the honesty of their words and deeds and their experience in representing people from all walks of life. Voters have the right to ask questions of Supreme Court candidates. Candidates have a moral obligation to answer those questions truthfully. If a candidate refuses to give honest answers to citizens' questions, he or she should not be a candidate for justice. It's one thing to not comment on a particular case that's before the court. But it's another thing altogether to claim to have no opinion or belief about anything when asked.

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Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
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23%
856 votes
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27%
1018 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1272 votes

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