Wisconsin Watch obtained the following emails under the Wisconsin open records law from Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and Justices Rebecca Bradley and Brian Hagedorn, the members of the court’s conservative minority. At the time of publication, liberal Justice Rebecca Dallet’s office was still reviewing our request and the other justices have not responded.
Justices clashed publicly over rules changes and firing top administrator, but new records highlight key conflict over how quickly court business should move.
Emails sent Aug. 1-10, 2023
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 9 a.m.||At the June 23, 2003 conference JJK announced an intention of ending the services of our current Director of State Court and implementing a new direction in court administration. In furtherance of that intention, attached is a proposed letter to Randy Koschnick advising him of the end date of his employment and thanking him for his service. Consistent with the letter, I move that the end date of his employment is August 2, 2023. Also attached is a proposed letter to Circuit Court Judge Audrey Skwierawski offering her the position of Interim Director of State Courts. I think all on the court know her. She was appointed by Governor Scott Walker and has served as a circuit court judge for 5 years. Her resume is also attached. I anticipate that a posting for the position will be made in the normal course of business, and that the justices who wish to participate in the selection of a candidate for the permanent position of Director of State Courts will be able to do so.|
Consistent with the attached letter, I move to hire Circuit Court Judge Audrey Skwierawski as the Interim Director of State Courts. I ask that the votes be done by email. Given that all were previously advised of the intention to end the services of our current director and the need to have an interim director in place, I ask that all votes be made by noon tomorrow, August 2, 2023.
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 10:27 a.m.||There is no scheduled court conference. There is no agenda. Any action taken on this is illegitimate.|
Sent from AKZ
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 10:31 a.m.||I second AWB’s motion.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 10:37 a.m.|
|Jill Karofsky||I vote yes on both motions.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 11:24 a.m.||As this email was sent about 9 AM this morning and Janet was included on it, what time was she sworn in? Sent from AKZ|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 11:26 a.m.||I vote against the motions, both as a matter of substance and process.The Director of State Courts is probably our most important hire. I understand that the intention to take this action was communicated at the end of the last term. But I believe process and transparency matter. Firing Randy and installing a pre-selected interim, without the discussion or input of the whole court, and without any kind of review or hiring process, is not a process any of us would endorse. If the shoe were on the other foot, would those supporting AWB’s motion find this approach problematic? If so, then perhaps this isn’t the best way forward. This court has had an unfortunate pattern of acting in ways that erode trust and undermine the culture of the court. It is my hope that even if four of us wish to make a staffing change, even one I oppose, they do so following a process we can all be proud of. The proposed action against Randy doesn’t need to happen this way, and I hope those pushing it might reconsider.BKH|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 11:30 a.m.||My understanding is she was sworn in prior to midnight last night, and her papers have been filed with the secretary of states office|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 11:40 a.m.||I vote yes on both motions.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 11:41 a.m.||That is accurate. I took my oath a week ago. Papers have been filed.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 1:29 p.m.||In AWB’s May 19, 2023 email regarding meeting during the first week of August, she advised that she would be reviewing our procedures in an effort to make the court more open and inclusive. The request for a meeting during the first week of August was reiterated by AWB, RFD and JJK at the June 23rd court conference. Attached are proposed revisions that address those goals together with additional proposed revisions.|
Consistent with the initial email request and the reiteration of that request at the June 23rd conference, we ask that the court discuss these proposed changes at an in-person conference on Friday, August 4 at 9:00 a.m. Please respond with whether you would prefer to appear by zoom, or, alternatively, to vote by email before Friday.
For the August 4 meeting, we also propose discussion of how to best enhance the public’s access to court orders on our website and the creation of a task force to address the issue of recusal.
Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Frank Dallet, Jill J. Karofsky and Janet C. Protasciewicz
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 3:32 p.m.||So there were eight justices for a week? Article VII, Section 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution|
provides:(1) The supreme court shall have 7 members who shall be known as justices of the
supreme court. Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office commencing
with the August 1 next succeeding the election.
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 4:01 p.m.||Ann: have you abandoned your “overall concern” “that our procedures be open and inclusive”? Do you remember saying the process of hiring the clerk of court (which involved participation by every justice) “has certainly not been inclusive”? Why are you now violating your own admonition that: “in the future, the process for all court hires should include participation of justices during the preliminary process, and not just at the time of the final decision making”? Do you think that meeting with someone who was not a member of the court to ostensibly take a “vote” without the knowledge or participation of two actual justices “enhances confidence in the final decision making and promotes better communication”?|
Becky: Why have you abandoned your professed principle that “Process is important not just to making sure we hire the best person for the job but also so that we can all feel like the Clerk works for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as a whole, not just a select few”? Is it your intention that Audrey will work for “just a select few”–namely you, Ann, Jill and Janet?
Jill: Why are you no longer “concerned that we did not hammer out a process ahead of time” for the firing/hiring of a state court director? With respect to the hiring of the clerk of court, you complained “The process being currently employed is inconsistent with the process we used last year when we hired Tim Barber and I do not understand why that is.” Why have you engaged in secret meetings to making firing/hiring decisions of key court personnel without the involvement of two justices? That has never been done. “Last year we had a panel that included three justices to review resumes, and a second panel with two justices to conduct preliminary interviews. Then the whole court met to conduct an interview.” Does it “seem unwise” to you that your process violates your professed principles as well as court rules?
Janet: please provide the court with a copy of your signed oath from “a week ago” so the court will know when you purported to undertake your duties as a justice.
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 4:16 p.m.||Becky: Are you aware of the hypocrisy in proposing procedures “to make the court more open and inclusive” that were developed in secret and to the exclusion of two justices?|
Janet: Did you participate in the development of these procedures? If so, when?
I am not available on August 4th. As a reminder, our IOPs provide: “Any additional days added to previously agreed-upon court dates need unanimous approval.” Even your proposed revisions say: “Any additional days added to the previously agreed-upon calendar also need unanimous approval.”
If you actually want to be “more open and inclusive” then you should abide by your proposed new procedures (which we all know will be adopted whether the court discusses them or not) and these proposed revisions to IOPs and SCRS should be discussed in open conference, with notice to the public and the media. I move to schedule these proposed changes for an open administrative conference. Is there a second?
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 4:19 p.m.||I also vote yes on both motions.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 4:21 p.m.||Ann: Your request for a vote is a sham. We all know the four of you will fire Randy and hire Audrey with or without the input of the rest of the court. I cannot control that, but I won’t be complicit in your unlawful actions. Remove my name from the letterhead.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 4:23 p.m.||I vote in favor of both motions|
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 5:12 p.m.||There will be no court meeting this Friday. Adding a date to the calendar requires unanimous approval of all justices. Wis. S. Ct. IOP III.A. Unless there is unanimous approval, no such court conference will be scheduled. You are welcome to request that this be added to an agenda.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 7:19 p.m.||Per Justice Protasiewicz:It has been an eventful day, and I just want to make sure I voted on these two matters. I vote “yes” as to both motions.JCP|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 9:06 p.m.||IOP III A. does not apply because the calendar was not agreed upon and this IOP deals only with the court’s schedule from September through June.|
I move that we meet at 9:00 a.m. on Friday August 4, 2023 to discuss the proposed IOP and Rule changes and other matters as described in my email this morning. Zoom can be available. Alternatively, justices could vote by email before Friday.
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 9:20 p.m.||I vote to meet on Friday. I’ll be there in person.|
|Aug. 1, 2023 – 9:35 p.m.||During my tenure on this court, there has never been a single instance of the court failing to respect the unavailability of a justice. Are the four of you going to abandon that principle too and continue meeting without all of your colleagues participating? Is this now a court of four and not seven? Previous revisions to IOPs were the subject of much discussion over several conferences. Now you are pushing for a vote by email with no discussion; why? Why won’t you agree to my proposal to follow your own proposed rules and discuss these proposed changes to the IOPs and SCRs in public? Are you trying to hide your shameful conduct?|
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 8:10 a.m.||I agree that this proposed sea change be held in open conference.|
Sent from AKZ
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 10:02 a.m.||There is no authority or precedent for having an open administrative hearing on proposed IOP changes. Some of the proposed IOP changes implicate the SCRs and will give rise to confusion because of their inconsistency. To avoid confusion, pursuant to IOP IV A., exigent circumstances exist to modify the rules.|
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 10:18 a.m.||I vote to meet at 9:00 a.m. Friday|
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 10:22 a.m.||Have you considered the fact that the constitution calls for the chief to exercise administrative authority. That is not delegated to any other member of the court. Your proposal violates the constitution.|
Sent from AKZ
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 10:22 a.m.||Aren’t you proposing open administrative conferences on exactly this sort of matter? If not, then what exactly would we have open administrative conferences to discuss? There is no authority or precedent for four justices making decisions without the participation of the rest of the court but with the participation of a non-member of the court. How do you reconcile your mantra of an “open and inclusive” court with your current attempts to hide your maneuvers from the public and the press?|
|Aug. 2, 2023 – 10:30 a.m.||I will also appear in person on Friday.|
Thank you all.
|Aug. 3, 2023 – Time Unknown||Ann Walsh Bradley calls Annette Ziegler to discuss schedule and reach compromise.|
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 1:43||On May 19, 2023, AWB asked AKZ to a schedule a court conference in August so that we could discuss administrative changes. The request was declined. On June 23, 2023, AWB, JJK and I reiterated that request at court conference. The request was again refused. On August 3, 2023, in a continued effort to compromise and to respect and accommodate everyone’s calendar, AWB called AKZ and asked if there was any date in August that AKZ would be able to meet. She also suggested we try to reach common ground. Subsequently, AKZ again flatly refused to schedule a court conference for any date in August because it would interrupt the court’s summer break. There appears to be no interest in reaching compromise. Thus, a majority of the court met on August 4, 2023, after having given notice of the meeting and opportunity for justices to appear in person, by zoom or to vote by email. Contrary to AKZ’s assertion, IOP III. A. does not apply. The dates referred to in that provision are those that have been agreed upon by the entire court and include only the months of September through June. There was never an agreed upon calendar by all seven justices. And today’s meeting is on August 4, not a date from September through June.|
Attached are the IOP and SCR changes approved by a majority of the court on August 4, 2023. Although the changes have been adopted effective immediately, we are still open to discussion and I ask AKZ to add the new IOP and SCR changes to the agenda for September 7, 2023 for further discussion.
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 2:00 p.m.||Apologies there is one small correction to the IOP revisions. Attached is the correct version.|
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 2:19 p.m.||I disagree with your assertions in your email. What you have done is contrary to the constitution, our IOP’s and SCR’s. Please provide me a tracked copy of your final document.|
The changes you have made are not legitimate or enforceable.
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 2:30 p.m.||What is the correction. Please send me the tracked doc.|
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 2:52 p.m.||Per Justice Dallet:|
These changes will not be released today.
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 2:59 p.m.||So you refuse to give me what you passed today?|
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 3:14||Per Justice Dallet:|
Attached is a track changes version containing the one correction made between the version erroneously sent at 1:43 PM and the version a majority of the court adopted at today’s meeting, sent at 2:01 PM.
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 3:45 p.m.||Tom Sheehan sends out statement from Annette Ziegler|
|Madison, Wisconsin (August 4, 2023) – Today, four rogue members of the court met in a secret, unscheduled, illegitimate closed meeting in an attempt to gut the Chief Justice’s constitutional authority as administrator of the court (see attached). Court business concerning Internal Operating Procedures and Supreme Court Rules is conducted when seven members of the court convene with an agenda prepared by the Chief Justice and at a time set by the Chief Justice during the court’s business year, which is September-June.|
The rogue justices’ attempt to go outside of this recognized procedure is an imposition of will and a raw exercise of overreaching power. Any such attempted action is illegitimate and unenforceable.
SEE ATTACHED PROPOSED CHANGES TO INTERNAL OPERATING
PROCEDURES AND SUPREME COURT RULES
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 4:25 p.m.||Tom Sheehan sends out statement from Rebecca Dallet|
|Statement of Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet regarding transparency and accountability measures|
MADISON, Wis. – Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet made the following statement today: “The majority of justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted today to advance a number of transparency and accountability measures. First, we have made a series of rules and operating procedures changes to make Court decision-making more inclusive, timely, and responsive. “Second, we are committed to making all orders more readily accessible on our website. Third, we have voted to re-open our administrative conferences. And fourth, we will be announcing the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the issue of recusal and to present us with recommendations.
“This initial series of actions is intended to be a first step in making our court more accessible and more accountable to the people of Wisconsin.”
The Rules and Procedures changes made by the Court are attached.
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 5:11 p.m.||Dallet emails court staff|
|Today at conference a majority of justices voted on the members of the supreme court administrative committee pursuant to IOP II. The committee consists of the Chief Justice and Justices Rebecca Frank Dallet and Jill J. Karofsky.|
|Aug. 4, 2023 – 5:27 p.m.||Tom Sheehan sends out statement from Dallet|
|MADISON, Wis. – Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet made the following statement today:|
“On behalf of a majority of justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I want to express my disappointment that the Chief Justice, rather than collegially participate in a scheduled meeting of the court today, is litigating issues normally discussed by Justices either in conference or through email, through media releases.
“On May 19, 2023, the chief justice was asked to schedule a conference in August to discuss administrative changes. She declined to do so. On June 23, 2023, that request was reiterated again. The request was again refused.
“This week, we shared with all of our colleagues on the Court a set of proposed changes to our internal operating procedures and Supreme Court rules. In a continued effort to compromise and to respect and accommodate everyone’s calendar, the Chief Justice was asked if there was any date in August when the court could meet. We tried to reach common ground with the Chief Justice. She flatly refused to schedule a court conference for any date in August. There appears to be no interest in reaching compromise.
“Thus, a majority of the court met today, after having given proper notice of the meeting to our colleagues, and with an opportunity for justices to appear in person, by zoom or to vote by email. Some of our colleagues chose not to participate, and instead the Chief Justice has issued a second press release.
“Contrary to the Chief’s assertion, the court has not yet approved a calendar for this term. Any court member can move to hold a meeting, and a majority agreed that a meeting would be held today.
“We continue to be willing to work with our colleagues, and I have asked the Chief Justice to put these adopted changes on the agenda for the meeting she has agreed to hold on September 7.
“I want to reiterate that it is deeply inappropriate for the Chief Justice to continue to refuse to engage with her colleagues, but instead to publicly litigate these issues. It is not my intention, nor the intention of a majority of my colleagues, to continue to litigate internal issues, through the media.
|Aug. 6, 2023 – 7:16 a.m.||JJK and I are also optimistic that we can work together on court business. In that spirit, as members of the supreme court administrative committee, we would like to meet with you this week. We propose Tuesday, August 8 at 9:00 a.m. and it can be by zoom, phone or in person, whatever is most convenient for you. If that date and time doesn’t work, please let us know another time this week when you are available. We would like to discuss topics including: scheduling, communications with the commissioners, communications between the three of us and any other issues you would like to discuss.|
|Aug. 6, 2023 – 4:40 p.m.||Thank you for your communication, but I am disappointed with its contents. For transparency and inclusivity, I have included all of our colleagues in this communication. I am not willing to violate my oath or the constitution. You know that this invented “committee” is in violation of your oath, the constitution and longstanding practice. It is illegitimate and unenforceable. You also know that I have always scheduled fairly and promptly. As you are aware, we had a backlog of cases last term that I was able to schedule, with full court input. And, for the first time in 26 years, since Chief Justice Day, I was able to release all of our cases by June 30. I remain committed to what I have always done at Chief Justice.|
We must continue, as I have, to be a court of 7 with full court participation and one Chief Justice as the constitutional administrator. I have done that for you, and for all members of the court. For example, even on scheduled court dates, where you scheduled speeches during court hours or needed to leave early and conference while driving somewhere with your daughter, or even when you took a month away from court business to attend school at Duke, I managed to schedule and still have all of us able to participate. I was able to make sure all seven of us were always part of court business.
The Chief Justice is the constitutional administrator of the court and always has been. Your usurpation of the constitution by inventing a “committee” to replace the words “Chief Justice” is shameful and damaging. For 40 years, at least, the role of the Chief Justice has been understood and respected. Your short term goals will cause long term, irreparable damage to the judiciary. What a historical disgrace.
I will not participate in your sham experiment.
|Aug. 7, 2023 – 3:44 p.m.||To the court:|
The commissioners recognize that there is a difference of opinion among the justices about the effect of Friday’s vote to make changes to the SCRs and the IOPs. As I told the court during another period of intense disputes among justices, the commissioners cannot be put in the crossfire of the court’s disagreements. As this office has done in the past, we will follow the directions of a majority of the court, subject to the court’s consistent practice of not releasing orders until all justices have voted on a matter and have been given an opportunity to attach a writing if they so choose. In this instance Justice Hagedorn has stated that he will be writing dissents to the orders implementing the SCR and IOP changes. It is possible there may be other writings.
Consequently, consistent with past practice, Tim Barber has prepared a draft order amending the changes to the SCRs, which he will be circulating to the court shortly. In addition, in the past where there has been a dissent to revisions to the IOPs, an order has been prepared for those changes, to which the dissent to those changes is then attached. Tim Barber is also preparing a draft order on the IOP changes, which will also be circulated to the court. As always, the orders will be issued when all separate writings have been completed and attached to the orders.
Nancy Kopp for the commissioners
|Aug. 8, 2023 – 1:49 p.m.||I approve both orders.|
On August 4, 2023, a majority of the court voted to amend our IOPs effective immediately. The preamble to the IOPs provides that “these procedures may be changed without notice as circumstances require.” As such, the norm is that no order need be issued to effectuate IOP amendments. Nevertheless, the order Tim sent was prepared for the purpose of providing a platform to which the dissenters may attach their writings. The other order Tim prepared contains the amendments to the SCRs that were voted on by a majority of the court on August 4, 2023.
Those changes are effective as of the date of the order as is our normal practice.
Any separate writings to these orders should be circulated by Tuesday, August 15, 2023. If any
writings are not circulated by that date, the orders will be issued with the notation “separate
writings to follow.”
|Aug. 8, 2023 – 2:01 p.m.||I approve both orders. Thanks.|
|Aug. 8, 2023 – 2:03 p.m.||I approve both orders.|
|Aug. 9, 2023 – 6:47 p.m.||I will remind you that Rebecca Dallet has no constitutional authority to act as chief justice and|
Sent from AKZ
|Aug. 9, 2023 – 7:28 a.m.||I have decided I will be writing some thing. I also ask that the writings be published as comments.|
Sent from AKZ
|Aug. 9, 2023 – 1:29 p.m.||Dear colleagues and staff,As I have been preparing my writing, I have come across a problem that needs to be addressed.RFD, JJK, AWB, and JCP have expressed the view that the IOPs have been amended already, and that the SCR changes will take effect when this order along with separate writings is released.The rule changes occasion a massive change in the operation of the Wisconsin Court system. In particular, SCR 70.01 is modified to make the director of state courts subject to the “direction of the supreme court administrative committee” rather than the chief justice. There’s no two ways about it; this is a significant, substantive change in the way this court carries out its constitutional oversight responsibilities.According to the IOP modifications that were circulated, we hold a public hearing for all SCR changes “except, in the court’s discretion, when the petition concerns ministerial or otherwise non substantive matters or when exigent circumstances exist,” and now in addition, “when necessary to bring the Supreme Court Rules and Internal Operating Procedures into conformance.” See IOP V.A.The proposed order making these rule changes says they were adopted to bring the IOPs and SCRs into conformance, invoking the newly added IOP exception. The three exceptions to a public hearing prior to this were all either technical changes (ministerial or non-substantive) or based on time necessity (exigent circumstances). If I’m understanding this correctly, this new exception creates a new mechanism by which major substantive rule changes can be made without a public hearing. The court can amend the IOPs however it wants, then skip the public hearing mandated by the IOPs, and then amend the SCRs to “conform” the two. That would seem to be a get-out-of-public-scrutiny-free card that could be deployed at will. The majority has apparently adopted revisions to the IOPs that allow the court to keep far more out of the public eye than we have ever done before. Consistent with the expressed desire to foster openness and transparency, would the majority be willing to reconsider and conduct a public hearing on these major rule changes? In addition, regardless of a public hearing, IOP V.B. promises, “The court holds open conference on other administrative matters” beyond pleading, practice, and procedure. And IOP V.B.5. seems to make clear that open conference is to be had on “[a]ll matters within the court’s rule-making jurisdiction.” IOP V.B.7. spells out three exceptions to holding a properly noticed open administrative conference on changes to our rules:|
“a. An open conference is not held when it appears that only non-substantive aspects of the petition will be discussed.”
“b. Upon vote of the majority in open court, the court may discuss and act on the petition in conference closed to the public.”
“c. Upon motion of a member of the court at open conference to discuss matters pertaining to personnel, the conference is adjourned to closed session and reconvenes in open session upon the vote of the majority.” Sub a. does not apply. These are significant, substantive changes. Sub c. does not apply, because these changes are not personnel related, and no “motion of a member of the court at open conference” has occurred. The only remaining option is Sub. b: the court votes to act in closed conference. But critically, Sub b. applies only “[u]pon vote of the majority in open court.” Only then can the court act on a petition closed to the public. That has not happened here. Therefore, none of the exceptions in IOP V.B.7. apply. Accordingly, issuing an order on the SCR’s would violate the IOPs because no open conference was held. If the IOP changes are now in effect, the IOPs provide that we must discuss the changes in an open conference first. Bottom line: Is the majority willing to conduct a public hearing consistent with how we have long operated pursuant to our IOPs? And is the majority willing to follow the IOPs it says are now in effect and conduct an open administrative conference on the proposed SCR changes?BKH
|Aug. 9, 2023 – 2:12 p.m.||I approve the orders re: changes to SCRs and IOPs.|
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|Aug. 10, 2023 – 10:24 a.m.||I agree with RFD that the order should go out on Aug 15.|
|Aug,. 10, 2023 – 10:33 a.m.||I agree the orders should go out Aug 15.|
|Aug. 10, 2023 – 10:34 a.m.||Just to clarify. I agree that both orders should go out on Aug 15.|
|Aug. 10, 2023 – 12:07 p.m.||I will place this on the September 7 agenda for discussion. As you know, that is the first date, that has the agreement of all 7 members of the court. We will meet and discuss the IOP’s and SCR’s. All 7 of us should discuss this and deliberate. We need to hear each other out. I am asking that we all PLEASE PAUSE. What is happening is not good for any of us or the institution. Proceeding forward on all of these changes will negatively impact the institution long after all of us are gone.|
Clearly having a new member of the court impacts court business. If always has. The court may very well differ on many issues and cases. That has repeatedly happened over history.
And, on the changes you propose, I recognize that you have the votes to push them forward, but that still should not happen without full vetting of the positives and negatives with all 7 members.
In fact, I recognize that things like open conferences and deadlines have been altered in our history, and probably will be again. I do not intend to stand in the way of those kinds of things that are voted on after a vetting by all 7 members. Our court’s history demonstrates that the Constitutional role of the Chief has always been respected. This respect and longstanding understanding are demonstrated by the absence of change to the term Chief Justice and the kinds of changes made to the IOP’s. In about 40 years (since 1984) and over 5 Chief Justices, the words Chief Justice have never been changed. In fact, that position has been understood and respected regardless of the composition of the court. It is the Constitutional responsibility for the Chief Justice to administer.
We can and should meet and discuss these things. There is no rush to get the IOPs or SCR’s out. My hope is that while you may wish to change certain practices of the court and you have the power to do that, you do not gut the Constitutional responsibility of the Chief Justice.
Let’s pause and meet as a court on September 7.
|Aug. 10, 2023 – 2:57 p.m.||Following my email yesterday, AWB, RFD, JJK, and JCP voted via email to approve both orders, and did not comment or respond to what appears to me to be a violation of the IOPs they voted to adopt. I cannot prepare my writing without knowing how/whether this will be moving forward. And I really would appreciate the courtesy of a response one way or the other. If I’ve misread the IOPs as proposed, I’d like to know and will adjust my writing accordingly. If the court intends to disregard the IOPs it just voted to adopt, that would be helpful to know as well.|
The Chief Justice also just emailed to suggest we all pause and discuss these matters in our September 7 meeting. She is spot on that talking about these things in person before taking action is exactly how we should proceed. Please consider it.
Emails sent June 26-27, 2023
|June 26, 2023 – 2:03 p.m.||Greetings:|
I write as a follow-up to last week Thursday’s meeting at which Judy Gunderson presented information to the Court regarding the NextGen examination. Unfortunately, no one from the Board of Bar Examiners was invited to attend her presentation. Accordingly, it was not on either my calendar or that of the Board Chair. The Board and Court were, however, invited to a similar presentation in October of last year at which Judy Gunderson shared information about the NextGen exam and which Justice Karofsky attended. Additionally, at its June 2023 meeting, the Board reviewed NCBE’s content scope outlines for the NextGen Exam. They also considered the remarks of Judge Needham and Sam Christensen who recently attended the annual NCBE conference at which presentations of the NextGen exam were given. Should the Court have additional questions regarding the implications of the NextGen exam, the Board Chair and I would be pleased to schedule a meeting at which they may be addressed. Thank you. JBR
|Jacquelynn B. Rothstein | Executive Director & General Counsel|
Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners
|June 26, 2023 – 4:11 p.m.||I am copying Justice Karofsky on your email as she suggested that we hear from Judy and she set this meeting up for the court so that we could learn some more information. I am glad that you were able to be a part of it even though you were not in the office. Thank you for your follow up.Sent from AKZ|
|June 26, 2023 – 5 p.m.||I am copying the court as I believe all justices should be privy to these email exchanges. I am writing to clarify in three ways.First, I checked with Randy on three separate occasions to see if Jacquelyn had been invited to the meeting: 1) the day of her evaluation; 2) at the State Bar Conference on June 15; and 3) last Thursday the day Judy Gundersen (her last name ends in EN) came to meet with us. On all three occasions I was assured that she knew about the meeting and was going to attend.Second, my colleagues and I all agreed that we needed to hear from Judy regarding the UBE and NextGen because Jacquelyn’s letters sent to us on January 30 and March 3, 2023 did not come close to satisfactorily answering our questions.Last, had Jacquelyn been in the office as is required of her staff and the rest of the court staff as far as I know, she could have simply walked across the street and attended the meeting last Thursday in person.We need to make a decision regarding NextGen as soon as possible. Judy’s presentation was very helpful and answered the court’s thoughtful questions.JJK|
|June 26, 2023 – 5:23 p.m.||In all fairness, if Director Rothstein would have been included on the emails setting this up, it would’ve been clear she knew about the meeting. Director Koshnick would not necessarily have been in any position to know that there was more than this meeting with Judy. Having said that, it is good that she was able to attend.Sent from AKZ|
|June 26, 2023 – 5:23 p.m.||I feel compelled to clarify so that my integrity is not called into question.|
Here’s my recollection: I was never tasked with inviting Jacquelynn (or anyone else). However, when Justice Karofsky informed me that she had set up a meeting with the head of the NCBE, I replied that was interesting as Jacquelynn had informed me during her performance evaluation that she was the person who had set up a meeting for the court, I believe she said with the head of the NCBE, to discuss NextGen and related issues. Justice Karofsky and I had substantially the same conversation on one or two other occasions. Perhaps Jacquelynn was referring to a different meeting involving the same subject and presenter? In any event, I apologize for any confusion that my comments and/or assumptions may have caused.
|June 26, 2023 – 6:19 p.m.||It would not be a good use of Judge Koschnick’s time to expect him to extend invitations to meetings and then confirm attendance. That is something typically handled by administrative staff, who could have sent a calendar invitation to everyone to ensure availability. Attorney Rothstein should not be criticized for not being in the office for a meeting of which she was unaware. The pandemic highlighted but one good reason why someone may not be in the office during normal business hours.|
|June 27, 2023 – 3:48 p.m.||This is the only email I received about the meeting with Judy Gundersen before the Chief Justice put this on our agenda for June 22nd. There was no time indicated. Judge Koschnick was not copied on the email. Nor was Attorney Rothstein. Please stop trying to manufacture baseless accusations to justify your premeditated decisions to fire court personnel.|
Emails sent May 18-19, 2023
|May 18, 2023 – 11:36 a.m.||Good morning,The court’s schedule next week is as follows:|
Monday, May 22, 2023 – Marquette Admissions (6 ceremonies)
– agenda to be sent by clerk’s office (should receive Friday, May
19)Tuesday, May 23, 2023 – NOT using for court business; remove
hold.Wednesday, May 24, 2023 – see attached agenda
9:00 a.m. Petitions ConferenceClosed Conference immediately following
PREs12:00 p.m. Joint Meeting with Chief Judges @
Concourse (includes lunch)2:00 p.m. Closed conference resumes at 2 p.m.Thursday, May 25, 2023 – see attached agenda
Court Interviews: Finalists for Clerk of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Continue closed conferenceFriday, May 26, 2023 – Continue to hold for continuation of
closed conference in the event the court does not complete the
items on the attached agendas.
(Judicial assistant to Annette Ziegler)
|May 18, 2023 – 2:07 p.m.||AKZ: It looks like we are interviewing for the new clerk next Thursday. I am wondering how many people applied for the job and if we are interviewing all who applied or if the applicants have been pared down.Could we please see the resumes and other application materials of those who applied for this post? Thanks|
|May 18, 2023 – 2:15 p.m.||Yes we are. I don’t know other than early on I told them to follow the same process that we followed last time. Right now I am out of town at a funeral. Feel free to ask Randy.|
|May 18, 2023 – 2:16 p.m.||Sorry you are at a funeral. I will follow up with Randy.|
|May 18, 2023 – 2:20 p.m.||Randy – AKZ asked that I direct my question below to you. Would you please let us know who applied for the clerk position and how the applicant pool was winnowed down? Also could we please have the application materials for those we are interviewing next week? Thanks|
|May 18, 2023 – 5:03 p.m.||Justice Karofsky,|
We had a total of 15 applicants as listed in the attached excel spreadsheet. The qualifications and experience of all applicants, as included in their written submissions, were evaluated against the qualifications and experience, as listed in the position announcement, by three HR specialists from Management Services: Emily Boehlke, Samantha Lemke and Austin Sackett. Their HR scoresheets are also attached.
Interviews of the top five candidates are being conducted today and tomorrow by me, Sheila Reiff and Tim Barber. Three are in-person and two are by Zoom at the request of the respective candidates. I have attached the application materials for these top five candidates as well as
our interview questions.
My intention is to send the names of the top two or three candidates, as determined by the entire interview panel, to the supreme court by the end of the day tomorrow. I believe that the Chief Justice intends to conduct interviews with the entire court next week.
Please let me know if I may be of further assistance.
|May 18, 2023 – 4:22 p.m.||I was surprised to see this on the agenda and I object to this process.The first time that this process was used for the hiring a clerk of the supreme court and court of appeals was in 2018 when PDR was chief justice. For decades before that the process was different. Remember that this is the clerk of the supreme court and the court of appeals. Also, remember that this is our direct hire.When this process was first utilized in 2018, SSA objected to the process. I have copied and pasted her email below and fully embrace her reasoning. This is a hire of the court and the sifting and winnowing of candidates should include court members.|
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|May 18, 2023 – 6:54 p.m.||Randy and Colleagues:I am sending this because I believe we need to hit the pause button on|
this process so that we can discuss the best way to proceed at this juncture. I have several concerns.First, I am concerned that we did not hammer out a process ahead of time. The process being currently employed is inconsistent with the process we used last year when we hired Tim Barber and I do not understand why that is. Last year we had a panel that included three justices to review resumes, and a second panel with two justices to conduct preliminary interviews. Then the whole court met to conduct an interview. The current process has not included a single justice or any employee from the Court of Appeals even though the Clerk works for both the Supreme Court and the COA. This seems unwise to me.Second, I do not understand how the lines were drawn regarding who gets an interview. For example, why would not get an interview? One of the comments concerned the formatting of her submission. Is that really a reason not to grant an interview? (I do not know , BTW.) The line drawing here seems a
bit arbitrary and causes me concern.
Third, I strongly, vigorously and vociferously object to this interview question:6. At times people, including judges and justices, may take out their frustrations on you in a nasty way. Are you thick skinned enough to handle these types of exchanges in a professional manner and not let them bother you? Are you kidding me? We should not be telling people at an interview or anytime during their employment that if they are subjected to nasty or inappropriate conduct that they are to just sit there and take it. Nasty conduct should bother all of us. This might be the worst interview question of all time. It would be way better to ask people what they
would do if they were subjected to or witness abusive or inappropriate behavior.
I would hope we are hiring people who will report inappropriate behavior. I would hope we are communicating to potential employees that we do not tolerate nasty, abusive, boorish and inappropriate conduct. I would hope that no one gets a pass for being nasty. Really this
question is beyond terrible.I understand that interviews are scheduled for tomorrow but I think we would be wise to stop right now and reset so that all who wish to be involved are given the opportunity to weigh in.Thanks
|May 18, 2023 – 8:46 p.m.||I join with Jill in believing we need to hit the pause button. My reservations about the process and lack of communication have been addressed in my prior email. I write now to comment on the proposed interview question that Jill deems “beyond terrible.”Ever since the 1988 United States Supreme Court decision, Forrester v. White, state court judges/justices can be subject to exposure to personal liability given that the court determined that absolute judicial immunity does not apply to personnel matters. I suggest that this decision, along with best human resources practices, informed the way that our court previously conducted interviews for court|
hires. We would agree on questions to be asked before the interview.. We all had copies of the interview questions beforehand so that we could review them in advance and offer additional suggestions. Then we would meet before the interviews to determine who was going to ask
what question.I suspect that if human resource professionals were monitoring our current interview process, that the question that Jill references would never have seen the light of day.I have copied below a 2014 email from Margaret Brady, our then human resources director, which exemplified our prior court hiring process.
|Ann Walsh Bradley|
|May 19, 2023 – 9:05 a.m.||Process is important. On April 17. I told you about Sheila retiring, and that we would|
proceed with the same process that we did before. Nothing new has happened. As you
also know pursuant to Sheila‘s email on the same day, she is done in June. It would be
nice for her to be able to assist the person starting so they are not starting without any
mentoring. The process as you know has been to receive resumes. I have not been
involved in sorting those resumes out. The same process that has been used in the past
was used this time. I agree process is important. That’s why I have followed it. As a
court whoever is sent to us, we will be able to ask questions. Just like in the past.Sent from AKZ
|May 19, 2023 – 9:12 a.m.||I agree that the process used is consistent with process we have used in the past. It has resulted in the court’s hiring excellent employees.|
We don’t need a stop button. We need to thoughtfully interview the candidates next week so that whoever is selected will have the benefit of a mentor for a few weeks before Sheila leaves.
|May 19, 2023 – 9:57 a.m.||I agree with Ann and Jill. When we hired Tim, we were given a chance to participate in the process. We all decided on the interview questions and could choose to participate in the screening or initial interviewing of candidates. There is no reason why hiring a Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Clerk of Courts should be done differently. And, as pointed out by Ann and Jill, the Court of Appeals has a stake in this as well and a representative should therefore be part of the process. Process is important not just to making sure we hire the best person for the job but also so that we can all feel like the Clerk works for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as a whole, not just a select few.RFD|
|May 19, 2023 – 10:57 a.m.||If we are not going to stop this process, then please tell me, at the very least, the question regarding putting up with nasty people aka the worst interview question ever will be pulled. Thanks Justice Jill J. Karofsky|
|May 19, 2023 – 1:46 p.m.||The interviews will continue. I don’t know what question you’re referring to. Maybe you should talk to Randy about that and let us know what you’re talking about.Sent from AKZ|
|May 19, 2023 – 3:45 p.m.|
|Ann Walsh Bradley||The position of clerk of the supreme court and court of appeals is an important position for this court. Despite protestations to the contrary, I find the process flawed, the communications poor, and the necessary oversight by human resources lacking.|
Given that the process is going forward, I am hopeful that even with this infirm foundation that we can end with a candidate who has the confidence of all of us. If not, I intend to ask that we revisit the issue after August 1.
Additionally, I ask that when the draft calendar is distributed that it provides for a scheduled conference date during the first week of August.
|May 19, 2023 – 3:55 p.m.||We have never met in August. What would be the topic for discussion?|
|May 19, 2023 – 4:57 p.m.||Rebecca,I do not have a comprehensive list in mind at the moment. But my overall concern is that our procedures be open and inclusive. I intend in the next month or so to review our procedures and to have a timely agenda for discussion.This very process that we are now undertaking, that is the hiring of a clerk for the supreme court and court of appeals, has certainly not been inclusive. I realize that reasonable minds can differ. But I think that in the future, the process for all court hires should include participation of justices during the preliminary process, and not just at the time of the final decision making. I think that such a process enhances confidence in the final decision making and promotes better communication so that some of us wouldn’t be caught by surprise to see the final interviews set for next week.I also anticipate that I will be asking for a discussion regarding a return to open administrative conferences. I think it best that we hit the ground (term) running, and address such issues at the beginning. If you have any suggestions on how to make our procedures more open and inclusive, I would welcome them.|
|Ann Walsh Bradley|