Friday, December 12, 2008

I was answering a question

Yesterday, in its report to premium subscribers, quoted me as saying that I had been approached to run for the state supreme court and had decided against it. Bill Christofferson and Illusory Tenant wonder why I issued a "press release" announcing my decision not to run against the Chief Justice.

But, of course, I did not issue a press release. I was responding to an inquiry from a reporter who had heard a rumor. I answered honestly. Much to my surprise, some very good and influential people (and, no, it was not WMC or any officer, employee. memner or other affiliate of WMC) asked me to consider a run. I was flattered, but declined. That is all that I am ever going to say on the subject.

Xoff goes on to criticize me for not being a judge before I decided not to run in response to others' suggestion that I do so. As I blogged during the Clifford-Ziegler race, I don't think that being a judge is a necessary qualification for the state supreme court. The Chief Justice, I am sure, would agree with me because she herself was not a judge before joining the court and, while I certainly have my disagreements with her, she did go on to a long and impressive career.

I suppose I could have declined to comment but I don't see why I should allow rumors to circulate about me challenging Chief Justice Abrahamson when I am not doing so.


Anonymous said...

One would think that Christofferson would have known that the Chief Justice had no prior experience before joining the court.

Do your homework Bill. Or maybe you like eating your words.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the real truth you're not running is that you're really a liberal deep down in side?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the real truth you're not running is that it would be too much work.

xoff said...

The Chief, of course, was first appointed to the court. She's not the only non-judge ever appointed. But to my knowledge the only non-judge elected in recent memory was Bill Bablitch. Voters want people who run for the high court to have some experience on the bench.

Rick, as someone who likes to parse every word, I wonder where in my brief post you saw the words "press release." They simply aren't there.

Rick Esenberg said...


Granted. The words were IT's but the implication was yours. You wondered why I "announced" something. I didn't. I answered a question.

As for the electoral history, our observation is accurate (although I did not need you to tell me.) It would work better as a critique of my political judgment if I was actually running.

Beyond that, there are very few instances in which it has been tried and I am not persuaded that it cannot be done.

But not by me this year.

Anon 8:50

Campaigns are grueling and no one who decides to run for office should be unmindful of that. But my present job - which I dearly love - is also rather demanding.

illusory tenant said...

Whew, thanks. I was just about to enter my debit card number at's press release PayPal portal.

For the record, I would select the "highly qualified" designation for a candidate Esenberg (or whatever the Federalist Society equivalent is -- "highly restrained"?).

Anonymous said...

On non-judges ascending to the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Nathan Heffernan, Horace Wilkie, E. Harold Hallows, George Currie, and, going back a bit further, Marvin Rosenberry all lacked judicial experience when appointed to the Court. Any short list of the greatest Wisconsin Supreme Court justices of the twentieth century would include those names. As far as non-judges running for the Court and getting on, the list is far shorter, at least in the twentieth century. But it includes the late, great Justice Thomas Fairchild, later, and for quite a long while, Judge Fairchild of the Seventh Circuit.

There haven't been a lot of non-judges who made it to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But those who did became pretty darned good judges.

William Tyroler said...

Props to Anon 1:44 p.m. for detailed grasp of supreme court history. But we oughtn't scant court of appeals appeals judges, whose workload, of course, is equally appellate and who are generally, to be sure, no less capable than supreme court justices. Joan Kessler, to cite a current example, is a superlative judge elected without a judgeship on her resume. Point is, judicial experience isn't a necessary condition for successful appellate jurisprudence -- supreme court or otherwise.

xoff said...

All true and interesting, but my comment was in the context of the odds of someone with zero judicial experience being elected to the Supremes by the voters. Very long odds indeed.

xoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xoff said...

I'm sure inquiring minds will speculate what I deleted, so before that sets off a chain of comments, let me just say that it duplicated the one just above it, which appeared twice for some reason.

Anonymous said...

What kind of idiot gives odds of something happening that is never going to happen?

illusory tenant said...

Now, Tyroler for Supreme Court, I like the ring of that.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to see why the rational wing nuts are desparate for another candidate to run against the Chief Justice. Mark Belling hits the nail on the head in his Waukesha Freeman column this week (pasted below).

It seems that Judge Koschnick has a dirty secret -- he helped a COP KILLER get a new trial.

There is "soft on crime" and then there is "try-to-let-the-murderer- out-of-jail-soft-on-crime" of the Koschnick variety. This dog won't hunt!

Supremely unlikely

County judge’s former legal client gives judge slim chance at high court

By Mark Belling

December 10, 2008

In April (which seems like four centuries ago), incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler lost his seat in an election to a northern Wisconsin judge named Michael Gableman. It was the first time an incumbent lost a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat since 1967. Gableman won by attacking Butler’s soft on crime liberal background. For that reason, Wisconsin conservatives are hoping to strike again this spring. Incumbent Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is even more liberal than Butler, is facing an outstate Wisconsin judge who is running as a conservative. Lightning is not going to strike twice.

Abrahamson’s opponent, Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick, calls himself a judicial conservative who won’t legislate from the bench. He decries Abrahamson’s rulings that have damaged the state’s business climate and her obsession with overturning the convictions of criminals. But Koschnick has as much credibility on these issues as I do at a teachers union meeting.

Randy Koschnick was Ted Oswald’s lawyer. You remember Ted. He killed a cop. Oswald and his father, James, went on a crime spree in 1994 that started with a bank robbery in Wales and ended with a shootout in which the Oswalds fired at least six shots at Waukesha Police Capt. James Lutz. Captain Lutz died. Both Oswalds are now serving life prison terms. Randy Koschnick is the lawyer who tried to help Ted Oswald get away with murdering a cop.

This is the guy who wants to claim Shirley Abrahamson is soft on crime?

Anonymous said...

To try and assassinate the character of a person who served the community, and the state, as a public defender is disgusting and wrong. Despite what any criminal does (even killing a cop), he or she is entitled to legal representation. Public defenders are different from prosecutors in many respects, not the least of which is their inability to choose which cases they will take. A person who qualifies for a public defender gets one. Should that attorney be subject to political crucifixion for entering public service? Should he or she be prevented from ever running for judicial office? Of course not, or the only public servants that could do so would be former prosecutors. Had Koschnick been a judge who had made questionable rulings from the bench (to let the murderer out of jail, as it's been said), the vitriolic response would be one thing; to attack him for doing his best to serve the poor of this state as a public defender is entirely different. Why should someone be punished for doing a good job as a public defender?

Display Name said...

That would be crazy for someone to say that we have to vote against a judge because they were once a public defender, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, John Foust, it "would be crazy for someone to say that we have to vote against a judge because they were once a public defender, wouldn't it?"

And that's precisely the line of crap we were fed with respect for former Justice Louis Butler when the electorate was persuaded to toss him out in favor of an absolute idiot.

Turnabout is a bitch, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm on the other side and admit I haven't read more than the first paragraph of your post (I rarely read more than the first paragraph of your post, for, as I say, I am on the other side).

I think the interesting question here though is whether you, as a frequent writer in various easily obtained forums, are simply unelectable, and frankly unappointable? But on the other hand, if you weren't a blogger, would anyone even hear of you, much less consider you?

Since you may be throwing out tests with questions like this right about now, tell your fans what they should want to know.