Wisconsin Chief Justice Pat Roggensack presided over her first official ceremony in her new position on Monday. The Star Tribune reports the ceremony, a swearing in of recent law school graduates, was scheduled to be officiated by Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who was chief justice until a ballot initiative in April altered chief justice selection.
Justices Abrahamson, Ann Walsh Bradley, and Patrick Crooks were absent, marking their disapproval of the change in power. Chief Justice Roggensack, however, did not address the controversy in any way. “This is a wonderful, happy occasion,” Roggensack said at the outset of the ceremony, according to the article. “I’m very, very pleased to see each of you here today.”
For background on the ballot initiative and the following turmoil, see Gavel Grab.
WISN 12 conducted an interview with Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, who was newly elected to the position by her peers about two weeks ago, to shed light on the legal battle currently being waged by former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
Roggensack said that claims that the court is in turmoil “don’t represent the facts,” and that the court is running in a “very regular fashion.” She explained that she met with each member of the court’s management staff where she asked for their “assistance, their support and advice,” which they have readily provided. Opinions are even going out at a faster rate than they did last year, she says, and she plans to restore public confidence in the court.
At a hearing on Friday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson declined again to block Chief Justice Pat Roggensack of the Wisconsin Supreme Court from holding that title while Justice Shirley Abrahamson pursues litigation claiming title to the top job.
Judge Peterson said Justice Abrahamson’s lawyer had the “tougher argument” in the lawsuit, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the judge said it is not to him to restore the Wisconsin court’s reputation as two justices square off over who is its leader.
“If there is to be a restoration of the confidence the public feels in the Supreme Court, it has to come from the court itself,” he said. The court’s conservative majority chose Justice Roggensack for the top job in an email vote after a voter-approved constitutional amendment, changing the selection method for the chief justice, was certified recently. Justice Abrahamson has contended the new process should not be implemented in the middle of her term.
Newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack has denied causing turmoil on the court in her new role, according to Wheeler News Service.
She made her statement in a legal filing in federal court, where a judge is scheduled to hear arguments on Friday over Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s contention that a voter-approved constitutional amendment changing the selection method for the chief justice should not be implemented now. The court’s conservative majority elected Justice Roggensack to serve as chief, replacing Abrahamson, after the constitutional amendment was certified.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an article gave more details about a letter written by another Wisconsin justice (see Gavel Grab). The newspaper reported, “N. Patrick Crooks asks judge for transition plan on chief justice.”
Chief Justice Patience Roggensack of the Wisconsin Supreme Court has defended the court in light of a New Yorker article that called it a “disgraceful mess” (see Gavel Grab). The writer “didn’t have his facts straight,” she said, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog.
Both Justice Roggensack and Justice Shirley Abrahamson are claiming the title of chief justice, and the latter has gone to federal court to challenge a voter-approved constitutional amendment that changed the way the chief justice is selected. The state high court’s conservative justices voted by email, after the constitutional amendment was certified, for Justice Roggensack to become the chief, replacing Chief Justice Abrahamson.
Commentary about developments on the Wisconsin court included the following: A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel essay by Ernst-Ulrich Franzen, the associate editor of the editorial page, “Find a better way to elect chief justice“; and Wisconsin State Journal editorial, “High court soap opera needs to end.”
Incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack of the Wisconsin Supreme Court defeated challenger Ed Fallone, a Marquette University law professor, by 57 percent to 43 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Justice Roggensack emphasized her 17 years of experience as a judge, while Fallone focused on what he called dysfunction of the bitterly divided, seven-member court. While the race was officially non-partisan, the incumbent drew widespread support from Republicans and the challenger from Democrats. The Election Day outcome did not change a 4-3 conservative majority on the high court.
Justice Roggensack raised $536,000 compared to about $320,000 raised by her challenger as of March 18, the Journal Sentinel said. According to the Associated Press, conservative groups backed Justice Roggensack with at least $500,000 spent on TV advertising, while Fallone did not get third-party groups’ support.
The contest reminded voters of an embarrassing incident in which Justice David Prosser was accused of putting a fellow justice in a chokehold during a disagreement. A TV ad aired Read moreNo comments
On Friday, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone jabbed back and forth at each other during a debate sponsored by the Wisconsin Bar Association and a coalition of media outlets.
The two are competing for a ten-year term on the state high court in the April 2 election. An Associated Press article says that Roggensack touted her experience on the Supreme Court, and 17 years total as a judge.
“I have reviewed hundreds and hundreds of cases,” Roggensack said. “Because of that experience I am able to give the public a much more thorough review of the legal cases.”
Fallone attempted to turn the argument away from court experience, and focused on his claim that the court is dysfunctional. “We need to get our court functioning again and I absolutely believe it is time for a fresh start,” Fallone argued. Read moreNo comments
After the votes were tallied, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone emerged as the winners of Tuesday’s primary. They will face off in the April 2 general election for a place on the state court.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Roggensack received 64 percent of the vote while Fallone had 30 percent. A third candidate, lemon law attorney Vince Megna, received just 6 percent, says a Patch article.No comments
“Justice Abrahamson, you are out of order,” Chief Justice Pat Roggensack of the Wisconsin Supreme Court told her predecessor at a meeting on Wednesday to discuss court rules, as they disagreed over the sequence of topics for the session’s agenda.
It was another sign of the tensions that persist on the fractured court, where Justice Shirley Abrahamson has gone to federal court to challenge the way a voter-approved constitutional amendment was implemented to remove her recently from the chief justice post. “Roggensack spars with former Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice Abrahamson in meeting,” the Associated Press reported.
There is continuing debate over who’s right and who’s out of line. Legal News Line reported, “Law professor: Wis. SC justice’s lawsuit over chief justice title doesn’t help already ‘dysfunctional’ court.” A Madison.com editorial criticized the new chief justice, and it was headlined, “Roggensack’s folly.”
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson has been granted an expedited appeal of her contention that she was wrongfully removed as chief justice, WKOW reported.
The appeal is to be considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where a three-judge panel has penciled oral arguments for Abrahamson’s case into its September agenda.
Abrahamson unsuccessfully requested a restraining order and injunction after being voted out of her chair by the court’s four conservative justices. They selected Justice Patience Roggensack as chief justice after a statewide ballot measure changed the way the chief justice is selected.
While Roggensack told WKOW she has “been Chief for a month,” Abrahamson maintains she is still chief justice. Roggensack is a conservative, and Abrahamson has been described as belonging to the court’s liberal minority.