Two days ago I posted on this blog an open letter from Madison Attorney Lester Pines critical of judicial candidate and Dane County Circuit Judge Rebecca St. John. I had seen it on Facebook and reposted it on the blog.
The St. John campaign asked if I would post a response. I agreed. The campaign forwarded this response which I am posting below:
Why I Hired Judge Rebecca St. John and Why I Am Supporting Her Election; By Peg Lautenschlager, former Wisconsin Attorney General
In 2004, I hired Judge Rebecca St. John from a pool of hundreds of applicants to be an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of justice.
I was impressed then, as I am now, by the qualities that make her an outstanding judge: a first-rate legal mind; a fierce independence; an outstanding work ethic; and a passion for using her considerable skills to make communities safer and make the criminal justice system work better for all of us.
It is not surprising that given something to argue about, lawyers will. So it is not surprising that some attorneys, who have been supporting Judge St. John’s opponent from the beginning, are arguing about what Judge St. John wrote in her judicial application.
It is one thing to have differences of opinion. It is another to distort a candidate’s words and misinform voters about her. I recognize the difference. Many of the attempts to discredit Judge St. John fall into that latter category.
Judge St. John’s application is a 57 page document. It is posted in its entirety on her campaign website at www.judgerebeccastjohn.org.
Asked to “explain in one page or less why you want to be a judge/justice” Judge St. John wrote (page 9 of the Judicial Application Supplement):
“I want to be a circuit court judge because I have a tremendous respect for the role that the judiciary -and circuit court judges in particular - have in the administration of justice and sustaining our structure of government. The quality of the judiciary depends on the quality of its circuit court judges. The circuit court is the first - and, for many or most litigants, the only - step in the judicial process, and many circuit court decisions are accorded deference when appealed."
It is clear Judge St. John understands and respects the role of an independent judiciary in our democratic form of government.
It is clear Judge St. John believes it is a Judge’s duty is to overturn laws that are unconstitutional. And knowing her as I do, I have no doubt Judge St. John will courageously exercise that responsibility if and when an unconstitutional law is brought before her.
I am also concerned about the criticisms of Judge St. John’s analysis of two cases dealing with criminal procedure, one of which I was involved with as Attorney General (Armstrong).
Those of us who have prosecuted these awful crimes – the individuals were convicted of murder and sexual assault – understand these cases aren’t ideological. It is about providing finality to victims, absent either a constitutional or other established basis for reversal.
It is not easy to dismiss the fact that Judge St. John has earned the endorsement of 34 judges, many of whom have decided important cases.
They include Judges David Flanagan, Frank Remington, and Paul Lundsten. In addition, Sheriff Mahoney, Mayor Paul Soglin, a long list of some of Dane County’s finest attorneys, victim advocates, and educators also support Judge St. John.
I know Judge Rebecca St. John. I know her work as an attorney and I know her work as a judge.
I have read the words she wrote and I have heard her speak about her work as a Judge.
She has my full, unequivocal, and strong support.