Spring election 2021: Branch 6 circuit court judge candidates Q&A

Voters in Kenosha County will be able to vote in a contested race for Branch 6 circuit court judge in the April 6 election.

The candidates are Angela Cunningham and Angelina Gabriele.

Current Sixth District Judge Mary Wagner is retiring.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate by email before the primary in February. We are re-publishing that information for the candidates that survived the primary.

Here is the candidates biographical information followed by their question responses, presented in alphabetical order:

Angela Cunningham — Age: 41. Village, town, city where you reside: City of Kenosha. Education: Bachelor’s degree in social welfare and women’s studies from UW-Madison; master’s in social work from UW-Madison; Law degree from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Occupation: Criminal Defense Attorney; Guardian Ad Litem; Public Interest Attorney; Prosecutor. Previous elected/appointed public office or pertinent professional/life experience: Catholic Charities Board of Trustees; Coalition for Dismantling Racism; Urban League of Racine and Kenosha Board of Directors; Lincoln Park Community Conversations; former third-grade reading tutor; former member Peace Learning Circles Board of Directors; Mental Health/AODA Services Committee of the Kenosha County Human Services Board; Kenosha Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (KLIHF) Collaborative; Kenosha Community Health Center Board of Directors; HOPE Council Board of Directors; Leadership Kenosha Planning Committee. NAACP Freedom Fund Committee.

Angelina Gabriele — Age: 51. Village, town, city where you reside: Pleasant Prairie. Education: University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison WI, September 1992-May 1994, Juris Doctorate with Honors, Moot Court Participant & Coach 1993-1995, Mathy’s Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy, University of Cincinnati Law School Products Liability Competition -Best Respondent’s Brief; University of Wisconsin, Madison WI
May 1992, Bachelor of Arts with Distinction Major – Political Science. Occupation: Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office-Deputy District Attorney January 2017-Present Supervise 16 Assistant District Attorneys, Involved in shaping policy and procedures for my office, law enforcement, and legislation. Involved in implementation of treatment courts and drug diversion programs, Improving the efficiency and outcomes of the office, training law enforcement, prosecuting homicide, sexual assault, physical abuse and elder abuse cases, teaching prosecutors across Wisconsin on legal issues and trial skills, handled post-conviction motions/appeals on
sexual assault and homicide cases including working to uphold the conviction of the man who murdered Deputy Frank Fabiano. Represent the District Attorney’s Office at Kenosha County Coalition Against Human
Trafficking, Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, Kenosha County Organizational Review Team looking for solutions to child abuse and neglect; Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office — Assistant Attorney General
November 2014- January 2017 Prosecuted conflict cases, multi-jurisdictional cases, commitment of sexually violent offenders in treatment facilities to protect the public , and public integrity cases across the State. Trained prosecutors statewide on legal issues and trial skills, trained law enforcement on legal issues pertaining to policing. Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office — Assistant District Attorney June 1995-July 1996, March 1997-November 2013 Handled thousands of felony and misdemeanor criminal cases with a focus on sexual assaults, handled cases in juvenile court including delinquencies, civil cases involving children who had been abused or neglected, and termination of parental rights. Team Member representing the District Attorney’s Office on Child Death Review Team looking for ways to prevent child deaths and Organizational Review Team
looking for solutions to child abuse and neglect. Previous elected/appointed public office or pertinent professional/life experience: Secretary and Board Member of Government Lawyers Division of State Bar of Wisconsin (find years); Board Member (2011-2013)& President Elect (2014) of the Kenosha County Bar Association; Mentor, Brass Elementary School; Tremper Gridiron Club Italian American Ladies Auxiliary; Kenosha Organizational Review Committee; Kenosha Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Team; Kenosha Child Death Review Team; Kenosha Coalition Against Human Trafficking
Inns Program through St. Mary’s Church (previously).

1.) Why are you the best choice for Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge?

Cunningham — I am the best-qualified candidate because of my breadth of experience both inside the courtroom and in the community. I have experience making charging decisions, working with victims, and keeping the community safe as a prosecutor. I have experience representing people charged with a crime and understanding the backstories and motivations that caused them to come into contact with the criminal justice system. I represented low-income people as a public interest attorney. Currently, I am a guardian ad litem, representing the best interests of some of the most vulnerable in our community in family law cases, guardianship actions, children   in need of protection and services cases, and termination of parental rights cases. Also, my previous career in social services and my community involvement gave me experience and understanding of issues the courts regularly deal with, including poverty, mental illness, alcohol, and other drug addiction, implicit bias, and systemic racism.

Gabriele — For 25 years, I have dedicated myself to protecting and bringing justice to the most vulnerable in our community – victims of sexual assault, homicides, and elder abuse. I have worked on civil cases involving the protection of children who were abused and neglected and the termination of parental rights for parents who abandoned or abused their children. I have extensive experience on post-conviction legal issues to protect the
convictions for the guilty including the man who murdered Deputy Frank Fabiano. At the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office, I worked to keep sexually violent criminals in locked treatment facilities for the protection of the community. My 25 years of courtroom experience handling these serious cases, the complicated legal issues that come with them, the proven ability to make the important but tough decisions at every stage of a case, and my many felony trials has given me the judgement to skillfully handle any kind of case. I also bring a unique perspective with my one on one experience with victims of crime – the understanding of their trauma, my personal understanding of the impact of crime & incarceration on families through discussions with my foster son, my experience and interest in serving justice, and my collaboration with key stakeholders to solve problems. I have earned their respect because of my commitment to protecting the people of Kenosha. No other candidate has the proven experience that I have – 25 years working to achieve the goals of protection, prevention, diversion, and rehabilitation in Kenosha. I am bound
as a public servant, as opposed to a private attorney seeking to get the best result for a client, to seek the truth and justice. For me, it has always been about doing the right thing- both in my professional and personal life.
My lifelong dedication to protecting Kenosha and the rule of law has earned me the bipartisan and nonpartisan support of DA Graveley, Sheriff Beth, Gail Gentz (former Kenosha Clerk of Courts), former Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, Kenosha Professional Police Association, Pleasant Prairie Professional Police Association, Rep. Tip McGuire, Somers Village President George Stoner, Pleasant Prairie Village President John Steinbrink Sr, retired Judge Wilbur Warren, along with many attorneys including Attorney Ted Kmiec, Patrick Cafferty, Mary Kerkman, Philip Marry, and Phil Godin.

2.) What is the key characteristic a circuit court judge should possess?

Cunningham — Circuit court judges should be intelligent, firm, fair, compassionate, and empathetic. They should be impartial, and not persuaded by personal beliefs or public pressure. Judges should have experience working with people from diverse backgrounds and working in various areas of the law. It is also important for circuit court judges to have knowledge of the community at large and how issues, such as mental illness, poverty, implicit bias and systemic racism affect, not just the litigants who appear in court, but also the effectiveness of the court system.

Gabriele — There are many qualities that are important for a circuit court judge. A judge needs extensive and practical courtroom experience to make the serious and complicated decisions that court proceedings require. Great lawyers make great judges. A judge needs the ability to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions without bowing to public pressure, politics, or prejudice. It is less important to have some experience in all areas of law but rather it is more important is preparedness, interest in the cases, & strong desire to serve justice. Recognizing and having experience in
seeking the truth and justice as a public servant rather than advocating for the best result for a client are also critical qualities. A judge also needs to have an open mind to solutions to improving our judicial system and to protecting our community. Having a strong and demonstrated commitment to the Kenosha community is also critical.


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