Jill Karofsky

  1. What would be your primary concerns for “the state of the state”?

    I’m running for the Supreme Court because I want to help get our state’s judicial system back on track. Unfortunately, some Supreme Court Justices are concerned with their political agenda, and seem to have no problem getting support from special interests, and then ruling in favor of those special interests, often discarding long-held precedent and using convoluted logic to achieve their ends. I don’t think Justices should see themselves on one political team or another, and the people of Wisconsin are sick of judges who act like politicians. We need leaders who will put our strong Wisconsin political tradition of independent and honest courts first.

    In my almost 30 years as an attorney, I’ve worked as a local prosecutor, as the state’s first Violence Against Women prosecutor, as Director of the State Office of Crime Victim Services, as a civil attorney, and at the National Conference of Bar Examiners; I’ve also taught at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

    I believe in strong public schools and infrastructure, protecting our beautiful natural resources, and treating everyone with respect. Everyone deserves dignity as a human being, regardless of race, ethnicity, or documented status. We live in a time when extremist political forces seek to roll back the advances in civil rights we’ve made in the last few generations; I want to continue to defend the rights of all Wisconsinites.

  2. What in your past work or which specific case(s) contributed most to the kind of judge you would be?

    I was Wisconsin’s first Violence Against Women resource prosecutor, and later was head of the state’s Office of Crime Victim Services. I received the “Outstanding Victim Advocate” Award from the Wisconsin Victim Witness Association, and the “Voices of Courage Award” from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

    I was especially affected by a case in which I made a mistake. When I was a local prosecutor, I signed off on issuing charges against a rape victim who the police said was making up her story. It turned out that she was telling the truth, and not only did I apologize to her both publicly and privately, she and I have gone around the state to help train law enforcement on how to engage the right way with victims, so other victims don’t face the problems she did. I’m proud to say she’s now a friend and I’ve earned her endorsement, even though her experience was one we’d never want to repeat for anyone else.

  3. What judicial groups do you participate in?

    Helping guide judges to be well-trained and independent, and ensure fair and equitable procedure -- Wisconsin State Courts Judicial Education Committee, James E. Doyle Inns of Court (judicial participant), Wisconsin Judicial Council Appellate Procedure Committee (Ad Hoc Member).

    Addressing violence against women and children and supporting crime victims -- Wisconsin State Courts Violence Against Women Act STOP Grant Advisory Committee (Chair), Wisconsin Attorney General’s Child Maltreatment Task Force,Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse, Wisconsin Legislative Council Study Committee on Criminal Penalties, Wisconsin Child Abuse Network Leadership Committee, Wisconsin Violence Against Women Act Advisory Committee,Wisconsin Attorney General’s Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team (Co-Chair),Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Wisconsin Child Death Review Council, Wisconsin Task Force on Children in Need, Wisconsin Crime Victims Council.

    Engaged in my community and my children’s schools -- Madison Metropolitan School District Guiding Coalition Committee, Wisconsin Celebrate Children Foundation Board of Directors, Woodland Montessori School Personnel Committee, Safe Harbor of Dane County, Inc. Board of Directors (Treasurer 2003), Safe Harbor of Dane County Run for Kids Race Director, and more. I have a long history of engagement in the legal profession -- Dane County Bar Association, University of Wisconsin Law School Friends of LEO Mentorship Program, James E. Doyle Inns of Court.

  4. What professional experience and/or point of view do you have that makes you the best choice for the WI Supreme Court?

    I am the only candidate in this race with experience as a trial court judge. This training is invaluable because every day I am reminded of how important each individual case is to those involved. The law is not an esoteric exercise when it is YOUR life that is impacted by a decision. I cannot think of a more important training ground for a Supreme Court Justice.

    I also have far more experience in the courtroom than my opponents, and I’m the only candidate who has both significant criminal AND civil experience, and who was ever a prosecutor or victim advocate.I have been a dedicated advocate for victims and the rights of all Wisconsin residents throughout my career. I am currently a Circuit Court Judge in Dane County. Before becoming a judge, I served as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Office of Crime Victim Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Previously, I was an Assistant Attorney General, serving as the state’s first Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor, and an assistant and deputy district attorney in Dane County, prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors. I also worked as general counsel for the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and have served as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, teaching about victims in the criminal justice system and trial advocacy. I have both attended and presented at legal trainings at the local, state and national level.

    Judges are no longer concerned about the appearance of corruption, taking support from special interests and then ruling consistently in their favor to advance a political agenda, despite the law and precedent. I’m ready to help restore honor and dignity to the courts, following the rule of law, applying the constitution in a fair and even-handed manner to today’s world, and ensuring everyone is heard, and treated with respect and dignity.


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