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Judge Jill Karofsky Wants To End 'Corruption' If Elected To Wisconsin Supreme Court

Courtesy of Jill Karofsky
Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court this year.

Updated on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 at 12:36 p.m.  

Not only will Wisconsin be a battleground in the presidential race this year, it may also see a contentious campaign for State Supreme Court. Marquette Law Professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky are looking to replace incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly. The primary is next month, with the general election in April.  

Liberals have endorsed Fallone and Karofsky. Kelly, who was appointed in 2016 by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker is supported by conservatives.

We interviewed all three candidates.

>> Meet Ed Fallone
>> Meet Daniel Kelly

Meet Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky.

Why are you running?

"I'm running for state Supreme Court because we have got to get this court back on track. I've traveled all around Wisconsin, and I hear the same thing from voters. They see justices on the state Supreme Court who are not following the rule of law, justices who make decisions before anyone even walks into the Supreme Court chamber, justices who are acting like politicians and that feels like corruption to people. "

What's the top reason why voters should select you?

"I'm the only person in this race who is, or who has ever been, a trial court judge. I sit in court every day and I see how the law impacts real people in this state. I apply the rule of law every day. I've also been a prosecutor, I know how to be smart on crime. I understand the importance of protecting the individual rights of victims, of witnesses, of defendants and of members of the public."

What's the top reason voters shouldn't choose your opponents?

"I bring experience that they don't bring. As far as Dan Kelly is concerned, that he has a track record. His decisions over and over again are in favor of those groups and those people who got him on the Supreme Court in the first place. Every single time he has decided in their favor, and I just find it remarkable that the law could every single time be on the side of people who want Dan Kelly on the bench. That's impossible and that feels like corruption to the people of Wisconsin."

What's your judicial philosophy?

"My judicial philosophy is that every single person in my courtroom should be treated with dignity and respect and fairness, that the rule of law has to be followed in every case, whether or not I personally agree with that. Anyone who comes into my courtroom can see that I look at the law, I apply it to the facts of the case and I apply it in a fair and equal way, no matter who is in my courtroom."

If elected, what kind of cases do you think you'll be asked to rule on in the next year or so?

"I think there's a very good possibility that we are going to see another redistricting case. I think we'll see cases about democracy in this state and what democracy is going to look like here."

Editor's note: Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2016. A previous version of this story said he was appointed in 2015. 

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Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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