MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker Thursday softened his stance on refusing to appoint any more judges in Dane County, suggesting he may tab caretaker judges to fill any future vacancies.
Walker Wednesday said the defeats of his only two, Dane County judge appointees to face contested elections convinced him there was no point to continue to make appointments to the county's judiciary.
One of those defeats was this week, when Judge Rebecca St. John was defeated by attorney Rhonda Lanford, despite St. John having the endorsements of Dane County's district attorney, several local judges, and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.
"Nobody in their right mind is going to accept an appointment in Dane County," Walker told reporters Thursday in Madison, at a meeting of stakeholders in Wisconsin's effort to expand broadband access.
Walker said political resentment against him in Dane County was a large factor in the future of his judicial appointees. In the defeat of his two appointees in the last two years, their appointments by Walker were highlighted by their opponents.
But Walker said he's considering the appointment of caretaker judges for any future, Dane County judicial vacancies.
"One of the reasonable things as an alternative we may look at, than just leaving them vacant until the next election, is finding retired attorneys or judges." Walker said the appointees would be people with no intention of seeking election to the post.
Dane County Chief Judge William Foust expressed concern over Walker's original posture of foregoing appointments altogether, calling that approach unfair to people filing lawsuits with lengthy court schedules in Dane County, and likely several judges involved, if vacancies lingered.
Foust said existing judges could cover cases. He also told 27 News money saved from the absence of appointed judges would be used to hire reserve judges to hear cases, and cover judicial vacancies.
More than half of Dane County's seventeen judges are sixty or older.
In all Wisconsin counties, judges ending their service often leave in the midst of their six-year terms, presenting a governor opportunity to make appointments to the bench.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker said Wednesday that he may no longer fill judicial vacancies in Dane County after voters defeated the judge he appointed in October.
Attorney Rhonda Lanford defeated Walker-appointee Rebecca St. John in the April 2 election.
Last year, another of the governor's appointees, former judge Roger Allen, lost in the election to Ellen Berz.
The governor said he may allow any future openings to remain vacant until there's an election, rather than appoint a new judge.