The incumbent in the spring election for the state supreme court is touting her 17 years of experience on the bench as the primary reason voters should re-elect her. But the most specific promise Justice Patience Roggensack is making to voters is that she will once and for all resolve the outstanding ethics charge against fellow Justice David Prosser.
Bringing an end to the frequent squabbling among justices has become a central issue in in the campaign. Roggensack is promising to convince her fellow Justices to end the 18 months of legal limbo surrounding an ethics charge against Justice Prosser: "We could do it: we could do it."
The judicial council says Prosser broke the rules when he put his hands around Justice Anne Walsh Bradley's neck in her office during an argument about the court's ruling upholding the controversial collective bargaining law two years ago in June. Roggensack says despite the fact that all but one of the justices witnessed the incident, the court can agree to officially resolve the case one way or another and show the public the court can discipline its own members. "And I am hopeful we will do something from the bench in a very public way."
Roggensack has served one ten-year term on the high court and seven years before that as an appeals court judge. She says that means she's better positioned both to clear up this ethics case and more qualified as a judge than either of her two opponents.
"And the job is judging whether another judge got it right, it's also judging whether another judge got it right in pretty much every substantive area of law. My colleagues ... oops, I mean my opponents, don't have that breadth of substantive law experience and they have zero judicial experience."
Both of her opponents are practicing lawyers who have not served as judges. Roggensack says she rejects the labels 'conservative' or 'activist' when applied to judges and says she rules on each case based on the facts and the constitution.
We'll have stories profiling Justice Roggensacks's opponents — Vince Megna and Ed Fallone, Wednesday and Thursday.