March 6, 2009

Koschnick for District Attorney

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick uploads to YouTube:
Endorsed by the Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police, Judge Koschnick is committed to keeping our families safe, by putting criminals behind bars. . . . Judge Randy Koschnick for Supreme Court.
I stand to be corrected, but I don't believe the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ever once put anybody behind bars, criminal or otherwise.

I don't quite follow the reasoning behind this message. Because if Judge Koschnick is truly committed to putting criminals behind bars, then he should stay put right where he is now, on the circuit court. Those are the judges who put criminals behind bars when they turn convicted defendants over to the county sheriff's department.

If I'm not mistaken, only about a third or so of the cases the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts for review are criminal cases. And of those, only a fraction have anything tangentially to do with anybody being put — or released from — behind bars.

More typically, they involve some technical, procedural question. For example, a hearing in circuit court on a defendant's motion to exclude some evidence or testimony. And even in those cases, the Supreme Court may decide only that some aspect of the hearing violated somebody's constitutional rights. (I come from a country that doesn't have a constitution but I've heard those are important.)

Then, all they get is another hearing. Which they may lose again.

Alternatively, could it be that Judge Koschnick is playing on a public misunderstanding of the role of the appellate courts? Even Jon Stewart, who is otherwise a pretty well informed character, made reference to the U.S. Supreme Court presiding over "trials" during his interview the other night with retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Hell, if Jon Stewart believes the United States Supreme Court is in the business of conducting trials then maybe some of the 19% of eligible voters who turned out for last spring's contest think so too.

Pandering to those misconceptions is perhaps an effective political strategery, but it doesn't say anything positive about the candidate's respect for the voters. Better that candidate should honestly educate those voters on the role of the office he seeks, as he should be in the best position to understand and explain that office, yes?

"Most qualified," and all that. That's the underlying claim here.

And a larger question attendant to that one obtains from the fact that the judicial offices are not political offices to begin with, which is why the judiciary separates itself from the legislature and the executive, which are the political branches of government.

A party can't even set foot in court unless she can convince that court that her question is something other than a political question.

Ironically, while you can't get into the court you can get onto the court by doing nothing but playing politics. Food for thought!

Or maybe by "behind bars" what's meant is that some disconsolate insurance company lawyer was forced to knock back a tumbler of The Macallan* because — Lord forbid — the great State of Wisconsin was once likened to Alabama by the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

(Seriously, that is actually one of Judge Koschnick's oft-repeated campaign messages. Which is odd, because I thought conservatives generally find the so-called mainstream media to be lacking in credibility. Except when it suits their political purposes, I guess.)

* Speaking of which, don't miss tonight's Joe the Unhappy Plumber's Happy 2-1/2 Hours. Dissenters are advised to wear a hockey helmet.


krshorewood said...

If he wants people behind bars maybe he should run for head of the Tavern League.

Brett said...

Thanks for that krshorewood. You just made my day (it's been a long week).

Anonymous said...

if he isn't committed, maybe he should be.