The Third Branch
Spring election: Three incumbent judges lose seats
A longtime judge and two recent appointees of Gov. Scott Walker lost their seats on April 2, while other appointees successfully fended off challenges. Meanwhile, four fortunate new candidates faced no opposition at all (see separate story). Here's the rundown from April's contested races:
Justice Patience Drake Roggensack
Atty. Rhonda L. Lanford
Wisconsin Supreme Court
It's old news by now that Justice Patience Drake Roggensack handily won her bid for re-election to the state Supreme Court. She defeated Marquette University Law School Prof. Ed Fallone by a wide margin.
Roggensack holds the distinction of being the first – and still the only – state Court of Appeals judge ever to serve on Wisconsin's highest court. She first joined the court in 2003, when she won a race against Judge Edward R. Brunner for the seat vacated by Justice William A. Bablitch.
Dane County: Challenger beats St. John
Atty. Rhonda L. Lanford, a personal injury lawyer at Habush, Habush & Rottier, is Dane County's newest judge-elect. Lanford beat Judge Rebecca Rapp St. John who was appointed in August 2012 to succeed Judge Sarah B. O'Brien.
Lanford teaches Negotiations and Trial Advocacy at UW Law School, and is co-author of Wisconsin Civil Procedure Before Trial, published by the State Bar of Wisconsin. She is a mock trial coach, and has been an active member of the Wisconsin Academyof Trial Lawyers and the James E. Doyle Jr. Inns of Court.
Lanford received her law degree from the UW Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Law Review.St. John is the second Walker appointee to lose a bid for election in Dane County in the last two years. The other, Roger Allen, a former assistant Madison city attorney, lost to Ellen Berz in April 2012.
|Atty. Joseph G. Sciascia|
Sciascia will succeed Bissonnette in Dodge
Dodge County Family Court Commissioner Joseph G. Sciascia, who handily won a three-way primary, emerged victorious in the April election to succeed Judge Andrew P. Bissonnette. Bissonnette is planning to retire at the end of his term in July (see The Third Branch, winter 2013).
Sciascia faced Watertown Atty. Joseph F. Fischer. Third place in the primary was Beaver Dam Atty. Dawn N. Klockow.
A family court commissioner for nearly 30 years, Sciascia also has served as Juneau city attorney and runs his own law firm in Juneau.
He is a mock trial coach, a former youth hockey coach and a longtime DNR hunter safety instructor.
Atty. Robert R. Russell
|Judge John M. Yackel|
Russell unseats Yackel in Lincoln
Judge John M. Yackel, appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 to the Lincoln County Circuit Court, lost his bid for election to the post in April. The son of former Judge Norman L. Yackel, he was practicing law in Wausau when he was appointed – and his "outsider" status in Lincoln County became an issue in the campaign.
The winner was Lincoln County Family Court Commissioner Robert R. Russell, a Merrill native who has practiced law for 20 years and currently owns the Russell Law Office, which his father founded 50 years ago.
Supporting Russell was Judge Glenn H. Hartley, whose retirement created the vacancy (see The Third Branch, spring 2012).
Russell is active in his community, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Good Samaritan Health Center Foundation. He is also a member of the Merrill Rotary Club and has assisted the Merrill Historical Society with their new building expansion.
A graduate of UW-Madison and Northern Illinois University School of Law, Russell is a widower and lives with his two children in a home built by his great-grandfather.
Rohrer will replace Willis in Manitowoc
Manitowoc County District Atty. Mark R. Rohrer won the race to succeed Judge Patrick L. Willis in Manitowoc County Circuit Court by 24 votes out of more than 16,000 cast. Opposing Rohrer was Manitowoc Municipal Judge Steven R. Olson, whose signature on a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker became an issue in the campaign.
Olson and Rohrer emerged from a four-way primary.
Rohrer has been Manitowoc County's district attorney for 10 years. Prior to this, he worked in private practice for 11 years at Olson, Winter & Fox, a law firm in Two Rivers. He began his career as a law clerk at the State of Michigan Tax Tribunal.
A graduate of UW-Madison, Rohrer earned his law degree from Thomas H. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich.
Judge James A. Morrison
Morrison wins full term in Marinette
Judge James A. Morrison, appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in March 2012 to succeed Judge Tim Duket in Marinette County, won election to a full six-year term in April. Morrison beat his challenger, District Atty. Allen Brey, by about 1,000 votes out of 7,000 cast.
Morrison faced a challenge from the moment he was appointed. Although he had practiced law and maintained his law office in Marinette for more than 30 years, and participated actively in the Wisconsin court system and bar, he had lived across the border in Michigan as required by his wife's employment. They moved to Peshtigo following her retirement shortly before his appointment to the bench.
Morrison is a former chair of the Board of Bar Examiners. He and his wife, Atty. Barbara Morrison, now live in Wisconsin. They have three adult children.
Atty. Bernard "Ben" Bult
Bult is new judge in Marquette
The new judge in Marquette County – a one-judge county – is Bernard "Ben" Bult, who beat Donna Wissbaum by about 100 votes out of about 3,100 cast. Bult succeeds Judge Richard O. Wright, who served for 18 years prior to his retirement (see separate story).
Both Bult and Wissbaum were longtime residents of Marquette County with many years of law practice, but Bult was better known at the courthouse, having served as corporation counsel, family court commissioner, child support director and director of mediation services.
A graduate of the UW-Stevens Point and Marquette University Law School, Bult is married to Linda Bult. Their blended family includes four children.
Judge Rebecca G. Bradley
Bradley retains seat in Milwaukee
Judge Rebecca G. Bradley, appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in November 2012 to succeed Judge Thomas P. Donegan, who retired (see The Third Branch, fall 2012), retained her seat in April. She fended off a challenge from Atty. Janet Claire Protasiewicz, an assistant prosecutor.
Bradley emerged strong from the three-way primary, winning about 55 percent of the vote to Protasiewicz's 33 percent. The third-place finisher was Atty. Gil Urfer of Brookfield.
A 1996 UW Law School graduate, Bradley was most recently an attorney in the Milwaukee office of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., where she worked in commercial, information technology and intellectual property litigation and transactions.
Her work has been recognized with numerous awards over the years. She was named one of Milwaukee's Leading Lawyers in Business Law, Internet Law and Litigation by M magazine in 2012 and she was named a Rising Star attorney by Milwaukee Magazine in 2008 and 2010. Bradley was a 2010 recipient of the Wisconsin Law Journal's 'Women in the Law' award.
Judge Thomas R. Wolfgram
|Atty. Joseph W. Voiland|
Wolgram loses to challenger
Longtime Judge Thomas R. Wolfgram, who had never before faced a challenge in his 19-year judicial career, lost his bid for re-election in April. Defeating him was Atty. Joseph W. Voiland, a partner in the Milwaukee law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.
Voiland was quoted in media accounts as deciding to run against Wolfgram because of concerns about Wolfgram's signing the Walker recall petition.
"I firmly believe in the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government," Voiland was quoted as saying. "Judge Wolfgram crossed that line when he signed the recall petition."
Wolfgram maintained throughout the campaign that his decision to sign the recall petition was not a political comment and had no effect on how he administered his courtroom. In the end, however, voters backed Voiland by a substantial margin.
A former law clerk to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane S. Sykes (Sykes now serves on the Seventh District Court of Appeals), Voiland focuses his law practice on financial services litigation. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran.
A graduate of Northwestern University and Marquette University Law School, Voiland was his firm's Pro Bono Attorney of the Year in 2010.