Candidate responds to inaccurate letter to editor
To the Editor:
Recently, a person associated with another judicial candidate wrote a letter to the editor of the Portage County Gazette regarding my qualifications to be a Circuit Court Judge.
The author made several statements that are not accurate and should be answered so I am writing to provide the Portage County Gazette readers with my response.
I had a vibrant career in Marketing after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1982. However, I wanted to do something more significant and meaningful so I attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and graduated in 1996. I’ve been a licensed attorney, in good standing, continuously since then. That is nearly four times the minimal amount of legal experience required by statute to be a judge.
My first job as an attorney was with Legal Action of Wisconsin in Milwaukee County representing victims of domestic violence in civil matters. I had finally made a difference with my career.
I moved to Stevens Point in 1998 with my husband and two young sons, where I worked as a special prosecutor in the Portage County District Attorney’s office. I then went to work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Marathon County District Attorney’s Office. I worked for then district attorney, now judge, Jill Falstad for just under six years.
I prosecuted every type of offender from traffic tickets to homicides. I worked 50 hours a week, every week, more at times.
When my children started junior high I re-opened my Stevens Point legal practice so that I could be closer to my boys. I handled civil cases, family cases, mental commitments and a variety of other cases, including criminal defense.
After some time, I realized I missed being a prosecutor and took a position in the Waushara County district attorney’s office also as an assistant district attorney. The position offered tremendous flexibility which I needed since my children were in junior high and then at the Stevens Point Area Senior High.
In 2011, I was asked to apply for the Portage County Clerk of Circuit Court position. Our law requires the local Circuit Court judges to appoint the clerk of their choice when a Circuit Court clerk resigns. A large data conversion was planned and the office was in disarray due to the vacancy of the past clerk. The three judges appointed me in November 2011.
While being a licensed attorney is not required of this position, in the largest counties in the state of Wisconsin the clerks of court are licensed attorneys. All clerks in every Federal Court in the United States are required to be licensed attorneys, as well.
And clerks are attorneys for good reason. I had practiced law in nearly every courtroom in every county in central Wisconsin for years. However, I was still not prepared for the barrage of the variety of cases that a Clerk is presented with on a nearly daily basis: the lien docket, eminent domain, Condemnation Commissions, the Drainage District, supplemental commissioners, collection procedures and Vital Records questions constantly.
While I have not been actively litigating cases in a court room for the past four years, I have been reading and researching statutes, case law, and procedure in every area of the law.
During that time I have also been responsible for a nearly $2 million court operating budget, nearly $1 million of collections revenue owed to Portage County; all policies and procedures in the courts; and if you’ve ever been summoned as a juror, you will see my name is on that too. I have been working on systems to benefit entire groups of citizens in our justice system now, instead of individual cases, as I had done previously.
This position as clerk of courts has given me a unique insight into the operations of the courts and where we can make important improvements. My goal has always been to provide Portage County residents the best, most effective and efficient court system in the state. From my vantage point I can see how to do it, but I can’t as the clerk – I can though, as a judge.
I have broad legal experience, I’ve already been an elected official making complex decisions every single day in the best interest of the Portage County citizens.