Mar 15, 2013

Why Dane County (Wisconsin) Voters Will Vote Out Scott Walker Appointee

Rebecca St. John's kisses up to Scott Walker
 on her application for judgeship (WKOW)
Three jurists running for Dane County (Wisconsin) judge and the Wisconsin Supreme Court all figure into a case in which an innocent man was freed as a result of the Wisconsin Supreme Court case—Wisconsin v. Armstrong.

And this case may determine the winner of a Dane County Circuit Judge election between Judge Rebecca St. John (appointed by Gov. Scott Walker) and Rhonda Lonford (a favorite of progressives).

Yet another innocent man was freed after DNA proved law enforcement and the DA's office convicted the wrong guy in 1980.

The innocent man, Ralph Armstrong, after serving over two decades in prison for a crime he die not commit was granted a new trial after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered it in a four-three decision in 2005, and on July 30, 2009, a judge dismissed the charges.

Armstrong was sentenced to life-plus 16 years for a crime he did not commit.

The dissenting opinion which would have put a man behind bars for life in Wisconsin for a crime which he did not commit was written by Justice Pat Roggensack who is facing reelection on April 2 from an independent bid from Ed Fallone, stressing a rule-of-law approach and independence on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

On the one hand, Scott Walker appointee, Judge Rebecca St. John, opposed the reversal, calling it one of the worst Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions, though again it resulted in an innocent man being cleared of a wrongful conviction, as reported by Joe Tarr of Isthmus weekly.

St. John's opponent, Rhonda Lanford, said the opposite, calling the decision one of the best, also reported by Joe Tarr of Isthmus weekly, precisely because a man was freed of a crime he did not commit.

What is up with St. John?

A locally well-known progressive Madison attorney, Lester Pines, has written that St John's application for the Dane County judge vacancy is full of "dog whistles" meant to appeal to Republican ears.

Convicting innocent people of crimes, and leaving them in prison. GOP justices love it. Shows they're tough on crime.

And as attorney Pines writes of St. John's application to judgeship:

[St, John writes]: 'According to the Supreme Court, all laws are to be sustained against a constitutional challenge unless they are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. Too often, circuit court judges pay merely lip service to this standard. Yet to preserve our representative democracy, it is essential that circuit court apply this deference.'

"I have litigated numerous constitutional cases in state court. In my 37 years of practice I have not seen or heard of a constitutional challenge in which the judge 'merely' paid 'lip service' to his or her obligation to follow the law."

Dog whistles. Try dog sirens.

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