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Chief Justice: Justice for All requires an impartial, independent, non-partisan judiciary

Middleton, Wisconsin - November 12, 2008

Addressing 170 of the state’s judges who are gathered here for the two-day Wisconsin Judicial Conference, Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson today delivered her State of the Judiciary Address Adobe PDF, focusing on national recognition the Wisconsin courts have received in the last year, and underscoring the importance of maintaining a fair, neutral, impartial, non-partisan justice system.

“There are many reasons why our courts are a model for the nation,” she said. “Let me give you one important one: Wisconsin’s impartial, independent, non-partisan judiciary.”

Abrahamson called on the judges to do a better job of educating the public about the value of an independent judiciary. “The people of our state must be assured that our courts work for them and them alone,” she said. “We do not work for special interests, associations, advocacy groups or political parties of any kind, pro- or anti-anything. We work for the 5.6 million people who call this great state home. They are the ‘all’ in ‘Justice for All.’”

Abrahamson referenced the December 2007 letter to the Legislature, signed by all seven members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, calling for “realistic, meaningful public financing for Supreme Court elections to facilitate and protect the judicial function.” She noted that a recent survey of judges, court commissioners, lawyers and people who work for justice across the state named judicial independence as one of four ‘critical issues’ for the court system to address in the coming biennium, and said that many respondents commented that the time has come for full state funding of judicial campaigns.

Abrahamson opened the two-day conference, which is taking place at the Marriott Madison West in Middleton. Director of State Courts A. John Voelker followed her speech with the annual State of the Director’s Office speech Adobe PDF.

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