Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet said she wants to take politics out of running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“In our national politics we’ve gotten so divided. And that’s not what it should be in the courts,” she said.
Dallet is one of three candidates so far vying for the seat now held by Justice Michael Gableman, a conservative justice who is not seeking re-election in 2018.
Other candidates for Gableman’s seat are Madison attorney Tim Burns and Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock of Reedsburg. Burns is partner in a law firm that represents the Democratic National Committee, while Screnock said he shares Gableman’s commitment of not legislating from the bench. The candidates will meet in the Feb. 20 primary where the top two will earn places on the spring election ballot April 3.
“We need independence on our supreme court,” said Dallet, who campaigned in Chippewa County on Aug. 17. She said the public has lost confidence in the court, partially because of Gableman’s decision not to recuse himself from deciding a case in which the state was represented by a legal firm that had defended Gableman against an ethics allegation.
Dallet said the state Supreme Court doesn’t have a ruling covering recusals, in where judges disqualify themselves from hearing cases because of a potential conflict of interest.
Dallet was elected to the bench in Milwaukee County in 2008 and re-elected in 2014. She is among 47 judges in Milwaukee County. “I have support from the community to show I give everyone a fair shake,” she said, adding it is important for the public to know she is not going to decide cases in advance.
Dallet is a graduate of Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University Law School in Cleveland. She and her husband, Brad, have three daughters and have lived in Wisconsin for the past 23 years.
She worked as a prosecutor in Washington and Milwaukee County for a total of 11 years before winning election as judge.
“We have a court right now that is not functioning,” she said of the state Supreme Court. She said there’s been a lack of civility. Plus, the court has closed to the public administrative rule hearings that used to be in the open. “And I think that matters,” she said.