Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Conversation With Janet Protasiewicz, Candidate For Branch 45

The other day, I wrote about Rebecca Bradley, the "incumbent" candidate for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 45 and gave a plethora of reasons why the gentle voter should shun her.

Janet Protasiewicz
However, I did not want the gentle voter to vote for Janet Protasiewicz simply because she's not Bradley.  I wanted the gentle voter to want to vote for Janet because she is the better candidate.  But before I did that, I wanted the opportunity to interview her.  I had the chance on Wednesday evening.

Before I get into the interview, I would remind the gentle voter that I have had the privilege of working with Janet in the late 1990's when she was an ADA at Milwaukee County Children's Court and I was a foster care worker.  It was then that I was able to see first hand her professionalism, her attention to detail and how she was able to deal with the most difficult cases with firmness and compassion.

Now onto the interview.

The first question I asked her was why she chose to ran.

Janet said that she felt this was the natural outgrowth of her 25 years of working in the District Attorney's Office.

She explained that she had known as a young woman that she wanted to do public service.  She said that while growing up, one of the people in her neighborhood was U.S. Congressman Clement J. Zablocki.  One day while out with her brother, they saw Zablocki outside doing yard work.  Much to her brother's chagrin, she walked right up to Zablocki and asked him for a job.

She walked away with the job.  She said that Zablocki had told her that he often had parents ask him to help their child with their careers, but never had the child show the gumption to ask on their own behalf.

Within a few months, she was running his office and running it well.

She said that was when she knew she wanted to serve the public for the rest of her life.

We then discussed her experience while working in the DA's office.

As mentioned above, she did a number of years at Children's Court, working mostly with foster care cases.  She point out this is where she became very familiar with the rules of civil procedures.  She eventually became the supervisor for a team of CHIPS (CHildren In need of Protection and Services), while maintaining a full case load.

She also argued one of her cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Besides working in Children's Court, Janet said that she had worked for a number of years in Child Support.  She also has had extensive history prosecuting criminal cases.

Besides practicing law, she also teaches it.  She is an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University and has taught on a national level through the United States Department of Justice's Nation Advocacy Center.

I asked Janet, half jokingly, what she did with her spare time.

She told me that she does not like to have idle time on her hands and is involved in a number of groups, including:

  • Fairchild Inns of Court
  • Professional Dimensions
  • Association of Women Lawyers
  • Marquette University Law School Alumni Board
  • St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation Board
  • Rotary Club of Milwaukee
  • Journey House Foundation Board
Janet shared with me that one of her favorite things to do is have the girls from the Journey House come to her home so she can show them cooking lessons.  Nothing extravagant, but just how to cook regular, nutritious meals.

Janet also said that while she is excited by the reception she gets everywhere she goes, she is also very humbled by some of the people who have endorsed her candidacy.  Some of the notables who have endorse Janet so far - besides yours truly - would include Mayor Tom Barrett, District Attorney John Chisholm and U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore.  She was also proud to announce that she has also been endorsed by the Public Defender's Association.

Her most current list of endorsements (it keeps growing almost daily) can be found here.  The gentle reader will find the list to be rather lengthy, and more importantly, the people endorsing her come from both sides of the political spectrum, demonstrating her nonpartisan approach to the law.

Finally, I brought up her opponent's relative inexperience compared to her lengthy career.  I pointed out that the decisions a judge hands down, even in "routine cases," can have life-altering meanings for the people involved.

Janet agreed and what she said to me next sums up the race very well.
"The decisions made from the bench should not be on the job training."
To learn more about Janet Protasiewicz and how to help support her, please go to her web page and to her Facebook page.

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