A Milwaukee County judge is making a bid to be Wisconsin’s next Supreme Court justice.
Judge Rebecca Dallet was in Superior to meet with people in her bid to replace Justice Michael Gableman on the state’s high court. Gableman, a former Burnett County judge, has announced he won’t be seeking a second term on the Supreme Court. His current term expires July 31, 2018.
The election to replace him will be held April 3. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Dallet is one of three candidates vying for the post.
Madison attorney Tim Burns announced his candidacy in April and Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock announced his plans to run in June, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Dallet has served on the bench for almost 10 years, after serving for 11 years as a prosecutor.
“I’ve worked really hard in our courts and I’ve always worked in public service,” Dallet said in an interview with the Telegram. “I care about people in the state of Wisconsin and about justice and doing justice for the people of Wisconsin. I have a lot of great experience to bring to the Supreme Court.”
It’s a court that has increasingly been criticized as big-money campaigns and dark money has entered the races, politicizing the candidates running in the nonpartisan races.
“I recognize that we need to make a change on the court,” Dallet said. “We really need independence, fairness and balance.”
Dallet, who grew up in a single-parent household with her sister in Ohio, said she learned the value of hard work from her mother. After working her way through college at Ohio State University, Dallet said she earned a full scholarship to law school at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Ohio — graduating summa cum laude from both. Graduating from law school in 1994, she was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin the same year, according to the bar’s website.
Dallet said she and her husband, whom she met in law school, settled in Wisconsin where they are raising their three teenage daughters.
“I think the depth of my experience in the courts is unique; it’s been over 20 years,” Dallet said. She said between her time as a prosecutor and being elected judge in a contested race, she also served as a court commissioner.
“Working in the courts is experience that is really important,” Dallet said. “It’s important now because I think you need someone who can hit the ground running on Day 1.”
As a prosecutor, she said she worked for families in Wisconsin, including spending five years prosecuting sexual predators — protecting the victims and working for public safety. As a judge, she said she’s worked on homicide, domestic abuse and sexual predator cases with the goal of community safety.
And she has concern about the lack of public trust in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.
“I don’t think we have to continue down that path,” Dallet said. “I think we can change that.”
Dallet said she would invite recusal hearings for justices, herself included, when a case involves a donor or party in which there would be a conflict in ruling on the case. She said she would like to make the rule-making process transparent and open again.
“I think we need to take the partisanship out,” Dallet said. “I think we need to not be pre-judging or pre-deciding cases, which has been going on. Also I think it’s important to regain trust by recusing yourself in cases where there’s special interests sitting in front of you.”
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