WACDL Issues Statement on Misleading Television Advertisements in Supreme Court Race
MARCH 10, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) is not taking
sides on the upcoming election to fill a ten-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
WACDL does take issue with an ad by a third-party group seeking to mislead the public.
The advertisement put out this week by the anonymous group calling itself
Wisconsin Alliance for Reform (or “WAR”) has no place in a campaign for a seat on
Wisconsin’s highest Court. By deceptively editing the facts, it implies that Judge Joanne
Kloppenburg is soft on crime. In fact, Judge Kloppenburg was one of the three judges
deciding that case who unanimously rejected the defendant’s claim that he was entitled to
withdraw his guilty plea on a sexual assault case.
In truth, the Court of Appeals only ruled that the defendant should have the chance
to prove his case at a hearing and have the local trial judge decide whether it had merit.
The Court of Appeals decision did not order his release at any time. At the hearing, the
judge ruled that he failed to meet his high burden of proof and denied his motion.
Neither the Court of Appeals decision nor the later action by the trial court overturned the
conviction, as falsely implied by the ad, or even shortened the sentence by a single day.
That defendant remains in prison.
Because of the Court of Appeals’ unanimous action, questions raised about the
fairness of the conviction were ultimately answered properly, according to law. The
defendant’s conviction was affirmed, consistent with the due process rights we all enjoy.
And treating everyone fairly means innocent citizens need not fear that government
power goes unchecked.
The twin foundations of our system of justice are fairness and free access to the
Courts for everyone, whether we agree with the litigants or not. Sometimes treating a
specific litigant fairly requires a judge to make courageous decisions knowing that doing
their job as it must be done in a free society may result in deceptive and unfair attacks
made by anonymous special interests groups such as the one running this scurrilous ad.
But it should not.
While it is worth noting that this third-party group’s false advertisement did not
come from either candidate’s campaign, both candidates in this very important election
surely know the overriding importance of basic fairness to the justice system. The
Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers therefore calls upon Supreme Court
Justice Rebecca Bradley and Court of Appeals Judge Joanne Kloppenburg to join us in
publicly rejecting the misleading and inaccurate television advertisement sponsored by
the anonymous group calling itself the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform and condemning
all misrepresentations by those who seek to pervert the election to suit their own ends.
To do any less would be to lend support to those who twist facts into lies. There is
no room for such conduct in a race for the highest court in our state.
JOHN E. TRADEWELL
Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers