Former State Supreme Court Justice Comes Out In Favor Of New Amendment

Proposed Amendment Would Require Court To Elect Chief Justice

Jon Wilcox, shown above moderating a congressional primary debate last summer. Photo: Ripon College (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Former state Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox said on Thursday he supports a proposed constitutional amendment that would require members of the court to elect the chief justice.

The amendment got a hearing in the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee this week.

Under current law, the justice with the most seniority is automatically designated the chief. Wilcox said that allowing the seven justices to choose their own leader will help defuse some of the bitter infighting that has plagued the court in recent years.

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“It would allow more new ideas,” he said. “It would allow more transparency on that court. It would allow more respect and courtesy and collegiality among the court.”

Daniel Larocque, a former state appeals court judge, said the chief justice is in charge of the entire state court system. Therefore, he said, all the circuit court judges should get to vote as well.

“If we are going to select our chief by ballot, it is just plain wrong to deny these judges from all 72 counties the right to participate in that vote,” said Larocque.

State Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said he will introduce an amendment to allow all state judges to select a chief justice before the current proposal comes up for a vote.