Dear Court Commissioners Who Are Not Judges:
I just love politics! I really, really do!
And, I especially love women candidates! And, court commissioners!
I love women professionals. I love powerful women. And I love women politicians. You are the trifecta!
I love the word trifecta and I use it in every Love Letter. “Word” insists it isn’t a word but, my bookie insists it is. I also love exclamation points!
Well, imagine how excited I was to find out a woman was running for Rock County Circuit Court Judge Branch 7! I almost spilled my martini! Choked on my appetizer! Dropped my hankie!
The 54% of voters (those would be women) in the last presidential election are ecstatic to see more and more and more women running for office.
But, good golly Miss Martini, there is something that I just love more than women or men or martinis or appetizers or… YES! You guessed it!
I love research! I am a computer addict. A Facebook addict. A library addict. A stickler for precise definitions. For peeling the layers off onions and peeling and peeling and ...
Oh, and I hate messy! I love precision. “Precision tool” means more to me than chocolates and flowers and jewelry…
Hmmm… And, the truth. The whole truth. And, nothing but the truth. I don’t even like shades of gray or implying or hinting.
So, I began my research with the woman candidate, the COMMISSIONER, running for office.
But, keep your thongs on! I thought we had a judge running for office?
We do NOT have a judge running for office! Imagine my surprise! That was the very first thing that I learned. A commissioner is not a judge.
The commissioner’s own literature identifies her as having “judicial” experience.
Even I was confused and I thought I knew everything. Imagine that, if you can. I don’t know everything—I was the last to find out!
I looked the word “judicial” up in the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language that I keep right beside my computer. (I forgive my reader(s) for thinking that these words just pour out like… well… like… water out a spigot.)
Silly me. I thought “judicial” meant “having to do with or pertaining to being a judge.” No, it just means having to do with judgments in courts OR to the administration of justice.
Imagine the tingle up MY leg when I found out that I HAVE JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE! Yes, I do! I am thrilled to the core and am re-writing my resume immediately. I have worked as a Probation and Parole Officer (in a Dungeon back in the Dark Ages)and in the administration of justice.
MS. MC CRORY IS NOT NOW AND NEVER HAS BEEN A JUDGE!
WHAT? Oh. Well, it appears to me that she is trying to appear otherwise. But, appearances can be deceiving. And, that is messy. And, I just hate messy appearances! Especially in court!
But, she is still the best qualifies candidate, correct? After all, she says so herself. And, I am the Queen of Sheba! I said so myself. Ms. McCrory’s campaign literature tells us she is “The Most Experienced and The Most Qualified.”
Can it be true that Ms. McCrory has handled 0 Criminal Felony cases, 0 Criminal Misdemeanor cases, 8 Civil cases, 0 Traffic cases, and only 196 Family cases--and NEVER TRIED A JURY CASE?
This would be in comparison to candidate Jack Hoag’s respective +1500, 1411, 296, 1209, and 1016 cases. Really.
I am totally confused about how Ms. McCrory is the “most experienced” and “most qualified?”
Still researching… Well, actually, I haven’t begun my real research, yet.
Where was I?
I began my research with our woman candidate because I put women on a pedestal. I love women. I want women to get ahead. Frankly, I want women to get ahead of men in every way possible. I am a feminist. Rush would call me a femi-nazi, I suppose. If it weren’t insulting the memories of millions, I would wear that label proudly.
But, Court Commissioner NOT-a-Judge Who Has NOT Demonstrated Superior Experience and Qualifications, as I continued my research, I began having questions about this NON-partisan race.
You see, the Trifecta in Madison (that would be our Republican Governor, Republican Assembly, and Republican Senate) have passed a bill that enables suits to be filed in any county—and not just Dane County.
That means that it is VERY important to the Republican Party to have loyal Republicans serving as judges everywhere in Wisconsin and not just in Dane County. I am merely making note of the political realities of the day. I am not an expert. I’m not even an attorney. And, in all honesty, I have no real judicial experience. http://m.jsonline.com/more/news/138667409.htm
Well… Where am I and where am I going?
Oh, I am still at the beginning. One of my questions is, of course, does any candidate have strong political ties and would each be independent if a suit with political implications were filed in Rock County?
OK, I love research so on to—the GAB. You know what they say, “Follow the $$$$$$!”
I began my research on the GAB website following the principle of “ladies first.” And, well!
Ms. McCrory spent $2,500 on a consultant from Fond du Lac. Ray Lapierre? Really? He must be fantastic! $2,500? “Who is he?” I asked myself! Maybe he can help me! Remember: I want my own show!
After the GAB, the single most important research tool in the world is…FACEBOOK!
Ray Lapierre is looking like a pretty BFD in Republican circles.
His “Likes” on Facebook include: Scott Walker for Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Fitzgerald, Republican National Committee, Republican Party of Wisconsin, Republican Party of Oneida County, Ripon College Republicans, Rick Gudex, 4 general interests and… Barbara McCrory! And, he donates.
Then, the 3rd most important research tool, (after the GAB and FB) given that I do not YET have access to finger-printing... GOOGLE!
According to an October, 2011 newsletter from Winnebago County, Ray Lapierre is the Republican Party 6th Congressional District Campaign Chairman. Go Ray!
And, Mr. Lapierre is a “school teacher.” He does “candidate school” for Republican candidates:
“The Republican Party of the Sixth Congressional District has set a date for the District’s Candidate School …. The school will be open to all Republicans throughout the state… For more information write or call Ray Lapierre, Republican Party 6th Congressional District Campaign Chairman.”
Hmmm...Why does Ms. McCrory need a Republican Campaign Consultant. I am sure he does other things?
OK, stop the histrionics, Vivian. Big deal! So, Ms. McCrory’s consultant is a Republican Party consultant… and, he looks like a big Republican Party macher. Big deal, right?
But, isn’t former Assembly member from Fort Atkinson—David Ward—Ms. McCrory’s brother? Perhaps they are friends?
But, we all have the right of political affiliation, don’t we? Wait, do we?
STOP! Let’s ask the Gazette!
Didn't the Janesville Gazette question the ability of city council candidates to run for office AND be members of the little ol’ Executive Committee of the little ol' county Democratic Party and didn't they call a candidate ...something really ominous sounding? OH! ... “a high ranking member of the Democratic Party of Rock County.” I know I sent that clipping home to my family because I, too, am a "high ranking member” of the DPRC and they believe I'm a n'ere do well who never ranked highly anywhere. WOW! (My family was not impressed.)
Has the Gazette already run an article about Ms. McCrory and her political affiliations? Did I miss it? I cannot find my glasses! Did they question the ability of people with political consultants to run in non-partisan judicial races? Did they question her choice of a political consulting firm?
I continued forward with my seriously academic research. I read both judge candidates Facebook pages.
On copies of advertisements on Mrs. McCrory’s page, I got the impression that Judge Bates had endorsed her! He is very well respected. Fantastic!
Ummm… but, not quite. Judge Bates wrote a letter to the editor of the Beloit Daily News explaining that he was not endorsing her? Uh oh. Ouchie!
I also read on Ms. McCrory’s Facebook page—on what appears to be another advertising flier—about that “judicial experience.” I have been busy, busy clarifying the position of “Court Commissioner” and definitions of “judicial.” That is not easy to do!
I have clarified that Ms. McCrory is not a “judge,” that she does not try cases, and that she works under the supervision of a judge as a "Family Court Commissioner."
As I understand it, Court Commissioners are supervised by judges and handle:
1. The initial hearing in a divorce matter subject to immediate review by the Judge.
2. Post Judgment hearings involving custody, placement and child support subject to immediate review by the Judge.
3. Domestic abuse restraining order hearings subject to immediate review by the Judge.
What? Yep, that’s all. That comprises about 5% of all court filings in Rock County in one year as I understand it. Really?
So, then what DON’T commissioners do?
Family court commissioners do NOT: Conduct any of the final hearings in a divorce case involving child support, custody, placement, maintenance, property division and related matters.
A commissioner does NOT handle any criminal matters including both misdemeanor and felony matters.
Family court commissioners DON’T conduct civil litigation.
Family court commissioners DON’T participate in any jury trials. Jury trials are only held in criminal, civil or cases involving termination of parenting rights.
Commissioners DO NOT handle any harassment abuse restraining orders? NO juvenile matters. NO termination of parental rights matters.
Family court commissioners DON’T handle any traffic, probate, or small claims matters.
Can someone confirm that Mrs McCrory has NEVER tried a jury case in her life? Really? Neither as a judge nor an attorney. That is my understanding.
So, to summarize, I don’t know how Barbara McCrory votes and I did not look up her record of donations. But, I am concerned about judicial independence and I am concerned about her political connections and loyalties.
I am concerned about experience.
Ms. McCrory is not a judge and seems to be using the word “judicial” to imply that she is.
Despite her claims to be the most experienced and qualified, she has never tried a case before a jury--in any capacity and she does not seem to have a breadth of experience.
Despite her claims, Mrs. McCrory has no Criminal Felony, no Criminal Misdemeanor, no Traffic, and virtually no civil experience.
She is a Family Court Commissioner working under the supervision of a judge.
Of course we all have the right of political affiliation. I suppose the questions are:
“How strong are the political affiliations?”
“Will personal convictions & prejudices pre-determine judgments?”
“How independent would a judge be if a case involving politics got filed in Rock County?”
“How important is a wide variety of experience—especially criminal court experience?”
“How important is complete honesty in what we say, what we don't say, and what we imply?”
“How important is it that a judge have experience with jury trials?” Really? Are we asking that?
I just love politics, don’t you? But, it is too much work! I need a research assistant.
Vivian, Queen of Sheba