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Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

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Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Beaver » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:03 pm

I don't know much about her. Her background sounds ok but I heard she is married to a Walker crony which is how she got this job. When will she be up for election?

http://www.channel3000.com/news/Walker- ... index.html
Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge Seat
Rebecca Rapp St. John appointed to position

"Gov. Scott Walker announced in Madison the appointment of attorney Rebecca Rapp St. John to the position of Dane County Circuit Court Judge Branch 16...Her legal experience includes a degree from the Chicago Law School and work as an assistant attorney general for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, where she represented the state in criminal appeals and federal habeas actions."
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Woofer » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:09 am

If I'm reading Ch. 8.50(4)(f)(1.) correctly, the new judge will have to stand for election in April 2013 (because the vacancy occurred after the date of this year's spring elections). For her sake, one hopes she's simply taken a leave of absence from the DOJ rather than resigned outright...
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Woofer » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:13 pm

Well, I had occasion to attend Judge St. John's swearing-in ceremony the other day. OK, so this "Walker appointee" had both (former Attorney General) Peg Lautenschlager and (former Dane County District Attorney) Brian Blanchard speaking on her behalf at the ceremony. Doesn't get more (D) than that in the local justice system. Oh, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Bradley as opposed to, oh, I dunno, Justice Prosser.

One wonders if she will be immune to the whole "Walker appointee" cachet that unseated the last such appointee when she's up for election next spring.

If I were a local conservative, I think I'd be pretty dismayed at the array of liberal supporters on display at this ceremony. Even the hated Judge Colas was in attendance, smiling approvingly. So while Walker complains about the liberal Dane County bench, it sure looks like he may very well have just exacerbated his problem. Time will tell, I guess-- we have yet to see a decision from her. But given who her public supporters are, I can't help but wonder if Dane County conservatives feel betrayed?
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Grubendol » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:01 pm

Woofer wrote:One wonders if she will be immune to the whole "Walker appointee" cachet that unseated the last such appointee when she's up for election next spring.


I certainly hope not.

Judge offices are supposed to be non-partisan, but as you point out, these elected offices are subject to as much politicking as any other, what with their public supporters and accusations of partiality by those who don't care for their decisions.

That said, the legal community in Wisconsin is as small as any profession's, increasingly so as one ascends the ladder from ADAs to DAs to DOJ attorneys. They all know each other, and whatever their partisan affiliations, they maintain professional and personal connections, and this support by Blanchard and Lautenschlager can be influenced as much by collegiality as anything else.

When it comes to Dane County voters, one would hope they pay more attention to a judge's actions than who their (out of office) political supporters are. And when it comes to Rebecca Rapp St. John, it's clear her judgement is exceedingly poor.

As Tony Galli at Channel 27 reported in April,
Nearly 100 Wisconsin Department of Justice employees received bonuses last month in a revived merit pay system, while workers at the Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies received nothing in bonus pay.

...

Among those receiving a Discretionary Merit Compensation Award (DMC) was Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John. St. John successfully argued the state's collecting bargaining case last year before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

St. John's merit bonus raised his annual salary more than $5,000 to $134,307.

St. John's wife, Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Rapp St. John also received a DMC, raising her annual salary more than $4,000 to $66,844.


The State Journal followed up with its own story,
In an e-mail response to The Capital Times, DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck says the bonuses are needed to retain employees who require a substantial investment to train -- such as DNA analysts who undergo a year of training, only to be recruited by higher-paying private firms.

A quote from Van Hollen in the email reads: "It makes no sense to continually hire and train staff to lose them to higher paying employers just when they become productive. I’ve taken these actions to ensure we can remain reliable to law enforcement and our clients while not wasting taxpayer money.”

Some of the increases were for meritorious service, such as exemplary job performance by assistant attorney generals, Brueck says.


What Van Hollen is saying with regards to those state employees who received this pay increase can be applied to any state employee. It's in fact one of the state unions' central talking points, that their member professionals are not compensated at levels commensurate with equivalent jobs in the private sector.

Whatever the explanation, this move by Walker and Van Hollen underscores the cronyism that is tainting their administration.

Whatever her performance, Rebecca Rapp St. John accepted somewhere around an 8% pay increase at a time when pay for nearly every other state employee was decreased by Act 10. (Not to mention her husband, the guy who argued for Act 10 before Prosser and company, whose pay went up by around 4%.) It stinks of a payoff, and the St. Johns accepted the money.

If Rebecca Rapp St. John had any electoral ambitions, even at the circuit court level, she showed exceedingly poor judgement by allowing herself to get bogged down in the sewer of Walker's corruption. And if she shows poor judgement when it comes to something as simple as accepting money, how can any voter trust her to show good judgement on any case that comes before her?

Whether or not her ethics are thin, her willingness to risk public perception of her own reputation is reckless.

Moreover, this whole issue demonstrates good reasons for both conservatives and liberals to vote against her on partisan political terms. For conservatives, she accepted a significant pay increase at a time the state budget was supposedly in serious deficit territory. For liberals, she accepted a significant pay increase at a time when nearly all other state employees, and there are a lot of those in Dane County, were getting their pay cut, showing her to be a hypocrite who places the political above the professional.

I hope every Dane County voter whose pay was decreased by Act 10 remembers that Walker placed Rebecca Rapp St. John above that law when she stands for actual election.

No, I don't know her or anyone who would run against her, or anything like that. I'm just somebody disgusted by how this rampant Waukesha-style corruption is seeping into Dane County, and I hope voters remember her part in it.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Beaver » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Thanks for the info.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Woofer » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:03 pm

And it begins....

Rhonda Lanford for Judge

Will the "Walker appointee" be unseated in the spring?
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Grubendol » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:20 pm

Now this is interesting!

Somebody FOIAed St. John's application to Walker for the appointment, and uncovered a treasure trove of dog whistles and genuflection.

One example stands out.
Labeling it the best Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years, St. John points to a case that restricted circuit courts from using their inherent authority to order new trials in the interest of justice. St. John agrees with Justices Gableman, Roggensack and Prosser who decided that the Wisconsin Legislature had not approved any procedural authority to allow circuit courts to order new trials in the interest of justice. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson disagreed and explained that, through our Constitution, circuit courts have the inherent authority to order a new trial in the interest of justice in order to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

St. John’s judicial philosophy has been revealed: The authority of circuit courts to use their inherent authority in the interest of justice is, and should be, limited by the legislature.


This race looks like it could get interesting. St. John's Facebook campaign is filling up with capricious doublespeak in response.

Where's the popcorn?
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Woofer » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:41 pm

Good grief, you know what? Why don't we go unearth whatever it was Maryann Sumi wrote in her application for judicial appointment to Tommy Thompson way back when. Don't you think ol' Tommy had to be scratching his head at some point about how his appointee all of a sudden became a darling of the progressives? The point being-- it matters little to me what a judicial applicant writes to a conservative governor to get the appointment. Let's wait and see what sort of decisions the judge actually writes before passing judgment at the ballot box. Give St. John the chance Roger Allen never got, as he was unseated by a thoroughly unsavory "let's get rid of the Walker appointee for no other reason than that he's a Walker appointee" campaign (while it bears noting that Frank Remington, the other Walker appointee, got a complete and total pass). Hopefully Lanford keeps it positive this time around, but I won't hold my breath.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Grubendol » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:30 am

Judges serve at the mercy of voters. I've seen more whinging about "politicizing" this race than I ever have about any nasty, mud-slinging Supreme Court race over the last five years, well except maybe for Prosser, but definitely those involving Gableman and Ziegler. And lo and behold, but guess which justices did St. John positively cite in her appointee application.

If you don't like that court races are politicized, by all means feel free to complain about it, but don't be surprised when reality comes back to bite you because you hold yourself aloof from that nasty, dirty and unsavory political foulness.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Woofer » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:53 pm

The votes are being cast as we speak so the politics are over, but I really have to wonder yet again about this intrigue regarding St. John's appointment application. What was in Judge Frank Remington's application? He was the prior Walker appointee who went altogether without challenge when he came up for his first election. What was in David Flanagan's application to Tommy Thompson? What was in Maryann Sumi's application to Tommy? Don't know? Of course not, because no one ever delved into any of that before this particular election. All of a sudden, for this particular appointee, that application is the most important thing. Well, whatever. If we're fortunate, no more judges will retire under Walker's tenure and we can put this kind of politicking behind us.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby pjbogart » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:22 pm

I don't think it's unfair to begin nitpicking at St. John's history. Some of that nitpicking ultimately caused me to flip my vote on the last day, so I'd say it was pretty effective. And why is it wrong to question St. John based upon her Walker appointment? If we've learned much about Scott Walker over the past two years it's that he's a true believer and everything he does has more to do with politics than governance. It's pretty rational to suspect he had some political reason for picking St. John, and people were curious as to what that rationale was, because I assure you it didn't have anything to do with judicial temperament or fairness.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Grubendol » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:06 pm

Why weren't the Thompson appointee applications scrutinized? Well it's been well over a decade since he was governor, and since that time, groups like WMC and Club for Growth have gotten very involved in Supreme Court races. Judicial races have become contentious affairs in Wisconsin, err, "politicized." That's not news. So nobody cared before, but they do now. You may not like that, but that doesn't change the fact that judges are elected, and deserve as much scrutiny as any other candidate.

As for Remington, I'm guessing he didn't get challenged because of his legacy name in local legal spheres. If there's one thing that this race has revealed, it's that lawyers with similar backgrounds back each other up, particularly when it comes to endorsements, whatever else they agree or disagree about.

Another thing that this race has clarified is how many judges and lawyers with aspirations to be judges see themselves inhabiting a rarefied space above the gutter that is politics. That may be an ideal, but like it or not, they're not above politics when they statutorily have to face voters. If that bothers you, then push to change the law.

In the meantime, I hope more judge appointment applications get open records requests. You may call it politicking, but I call it transparency, and voters deserve to know what cases aspiring judges are citing when they're looking for a job.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:34 pm

Someone is having a snit.

Gov. Scott Walker said he may no longer bother with filling vacancies for judicial openings in Dane County after a second appointee of his was ousted by voters.
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby gargantua » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:43 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Someone is having a snit.

Gov. Scott Walker said he may no longer bother with filling vacancies for judicial openings in Dane County after a second appointee of his was ousted by voters.


Fucken Dane County voters! Who the hell do they think they are?!?
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Re: Walker appoints Dane County Circuit Court Judge

Postby pjbogart » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:51 pm

I think it's unfortunate that a politician is so unpopular with voters that the mere hint of association is enough to doom a candidate. But Walker didn't "accidentally" become unpopular. If St. John had wanted more of a firewall between herself and Walker, she could have built one.
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