Spring Election 2017: Circuit court judge candidate questionnaire answers

Voters throughout Kenosha County will be able to vote in a contested election for circuit court judge on April 4.

Each candidate was sent the same request for biographical information and a set of questions. Following are their answers:

Jodi Meier — Age: 50. Education: Westosha Central High School: High School Diploma 1984; Marquette University: Bachelor of Arts 1988; Marquette University Law School: Juris Doctor 1991. Occupation: Circuit Court Judge. Previous elected/appointed public or judicial office: Appointed as Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge July 2016.

John Anthony Ward — Age: 59. Education: JD top 10% of class from John Marshall Law School 1985. BA Economics U.W. Parkside 1982. Occupation: Attorney. Previous elected/appointed public or judicial office: I served in the United States Marine Corp 1976-1979. I served as an infantryman, a scout sniper and intelligence clerk. I was a member of the Civil Airpatrol Kenosha squadron and Land Air Rscue team 7 as a child. I was a past member of the Grace Lutheran Church Council. I was a past president of Grace Lutheran Church. I coached Cyc Baseball, Football, Basketball, Little league, Kiwanis.

1.) Why did you decide to run for circuit court judge?

Meier — As I am already the presiding Branch 7 circuit court judge, I am running to continue my service to the community in this capacity. After the untimely death of our beloved Judge S. Michael Wilk in March 2016, there was a judicial vacancy in Branch 7 of the circuit court. I was encouraged to apply for the Governor’s appointment to fill this vacancy by numerous peers, co-workers and members of the legal community, as well as members of the community as a whole.

Ward — Last time I served the community was when I was a United States Marine. I wanted to pay back the community for my opportunity. I see this as an opportunity to be a servant of the community who applies the Law as made by the people through their representatives to the facts. I have had a successful practice where I have represented over 6,000 people. As a Judge I would face new challenges which I find exciting.

2.) Why are you the best choice for circuit court judge?

Meier — I am the best choice for circuit court judge for many reasons: First, I have the most experience where it counts. Throughout my legal career, I have made decisions that have affected people’s lives, especially in my responsibilities as a Guardian ad Litem, court commissioner and now as a judge. As a Guardian ad Litem for 11 years, I have represented the best interests of children and vulnerable adults in the court system, which included making recommendations as to what is in those individuals’ best interests related to their well-being. I was appointed a Court Commissioner by Judge Chad Kerkman and have served on that bench since 2015. A Court Commissioner makes temporary orders and issues judgments on a wide variety of cases in the court system. Further, I have been your circuit court judge rendering decisions and managing the criminal and family caseload assigned to my branch for approximately 8 months. All is going extremely well in my courtroom. Second, a judge is a position of service to the community. While many people may say they want to be “of service”, my actions have demonstrated my commitment to that principle. I have been serving my community for years, both professionally and personally. On a professional level, I have volunteered for the Wills for Heroes program, whereby volunteer attorneys draft wills and powers of attorneys for law enforcement and firefighters. I have lectured at the ELCA Outreach Center providing education about various aspects of the court system and the law to people who would not otherwise have a means to this information. I was a board member for the Domestic Violence Project, a foundational agency to Women and Children’s Horizons. I have received an award from the Pro Bono Honor Society for my dedication to providing low cost or free legal services befitting people of limited means. On a personal level, I served the Town of Salem as the public member of the TIF District Board, helping to establish the financing component for the town’s (now village’s) small business industrial park. I volunteered with a team of Salem Grade School teachers to help at Channel 10’s Great TV Auction. I am very involved in my church communities of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Brighton, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Paris, volunteering as a lector, usher, and rosary leader, as well as taking communion to the home bound, and as a member of the soup making team benefiting the Shalom Center. Third, I have the appropriate temperament, work ethic and philosophy required for a judge. I am respectful to others, and I have always shown people common courtesy. This is no different in my courtroom. I listen carefully to what the litigants have to say. I prepare in advance for all my court hearings, and I oversee my caseload in an efficient manner, ensuring that people get their day in court in a timely fashion. I always follow the rule of law in my judicial decisions, and I am fair and impartial. My hard work, command of the law and judicial temperament since taking the bench has been noticed, and I have been selected by the Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District to lead the drug and behavioral health treatment court beginning in May. Fourth, integrity matters. I have conducted my legal practice in accordance with the ethical rules governing all attorneys. I have never been sanctioned by the Office of Lawyer Regulation. It is extremely important that the community have respect for and confidence in all judicial decisions. This would be completely undermined if the person making the decisions is not of respectable moral character. I have spend over 25 years in my legal career conducting myself appropriately and working very hard, and it has been recognized by my 200+ endorsements from judges, court commissioners, attorneys, elected officials, government officials, law enforcement, community leaders, organizations, citizens, friends and neighbors. I am clearly the most qualified for the Branch 7 Circuit Court bench.

Ward — I have represented over 6,000 people in 32 years of practice. I have argued cases at every level except the United States Supreme Court. I have practiced in 20 counties in 2 states. With this experience I have learned how to run a fair and efficient Court which will reduce cost to the parties and the taxpayers. I also have ideas to reduce some of the problems which occur in family court by people not having attorneys.


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