As first reported by WisPolitics, Wisconsin’s Republican Party has filed a complaint with the state Judicial Commission over campaign contributions Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet has received from lawyers appearing in cases appearing before her. Dallet is the liberal candidate in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court against Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock. The election is April 3.
“Today the people of Wisconsin are seeing that Rebecca Dallet’s hypocrisy on judicial ethics not only knows no bounds — it has led to deeply disturbing and clearly improper conduct,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) Executive Director Mark Morgan in a statement Friday.
In six cases, Dallet solicited contributions from lawyers within one week of their cases being assigned to Dallet’s court according to the complaint filed by the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW). In eight cases, according to the complaint, Dallet solicited contributions from lawyers within two weeks of their cases being assigned to Dallet’s court.
“Fairness and equality before the court are cornerstones of the judiciary, and Rebecca Dallet‘s use of her court calendar as a fundraising operation calls both of those, and her judgment, into question,” Morgan said. “Rebecca Dallet needs to immediately explain the disturbing trend of hearing cases while cashing the checks of those who come before her on the bench.”
The RPW complaint also referred to a Wisconsin State Journal article which mentioned Dallet presiding over 102 cases involving 39 attorneys who made donations to her campaign.
Screnock’s campaign responded to the Republican complaint in a statement Friday.
“Judge Screnock was shocked and deeply saddened to learn that a sitting judge and Supreme Court candidate would engage in conduct that damages the public’s trust in our justice system and our high court candidates,” according to the campaign statement. “These are serious allegations and they outline a troubling pattern of behavior by Judge Dallet that warrants further investigation.”
Dallet’s campaign dismissed the seriousness of the allegations. “The Screnock campaign is running scared,” Dallet campaign manager Jessica Lovejoy said to WisPolitics. “Partisan attack dogs can file all the baseless complaints they want; it won’t fix his lack of experience or allegiance to big-money special interests.”
However, the Republican complaint points out one case, Paul Minnic v. Florsheim Investments LLC, where Dallet received donations from the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer, and three of the plaintiff’s attorneys. “Two of the donations made by the plaintiff’s attorneys directly coincided with their entrance into the case,” the complaint said.
Screnock has not solicited nor accepted any campaign contributions from attorneys with current cases in front of him.