A Message from Judge Marilyn Townsend
I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I care deeply about fairness and equal justice in our courts. My commitment is to put my judicial experience, legal skills and values to work every day, in order to be an impartial and thoughtful judge, help eliminate racial disparity, improve access to justice, and serve all the people of Dane County.
I am the only candidate for judge who is a judge. I have overseen and decided more than 3,000 cases. I have issued written decisions, effectively and fairly managed a courtroom, presided over trials, and ruled on matters of law. There is no substitute for experience. The issues we face in our courts require collaborative, active, and knowledgeable Judges, who are willing and able to tackle tough issues, understand individual circumstances, and make our justice system more just.
As a civil rights and public interest attorney for 38 years, I’ve stood up for the individuals against big corporations, I’ve defended workers, and I’ve been a tireless advocate to obtain justice for those who have been discriminated against. I have handled and won important cases, including a unanimous decision in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that will benefit workers statewide. For 25 years, I have been a volunteer attorney at the Unemployment Compensation Appeals Clinic. I also volunteer my time at the Veteran’s Law Clinic.
My appreciation of the challenges people face started young. I grew up on a farm in northern Wisconsin. My maternal grandparents immigrated from Slovenia and my mother was a first-generation American. Both my parents grew up during the great depression. Neither of them finished high school. My parents taught all eight of their children the values of hard work, perseverance, and giving back to our communities.
As a Municipal Court Judge, I am a strong proponent of initiatives that help reduce racial disparity in our criminal justice system. Municipal Courts are on the front lines of our justice system. We see the root causes of crime, often at the beginning of a potentially negative trajectory. As a Municipal Court Judge, when appropriate, I offer defendants the opportunity to avoid a record, by postponing sentencing to allow them to receive drug and alcohol assessment and treatment, or by offering community service as an alternative to a conviction and a record.
As a Dane County judge, I will support and participate in countywide initiatives to reduce racial disparity. Lots of good work is underway and can be expanded: restorative justice courts, treatment and specialty courts, efforts to combat implicit bias, and a pilot program testing better ways to determine the amount of bail. I will advocate for a Mental Health Treatment Court in Dane County.
I am also only candidate in this race whose campaign is voluntarily limiting campaign contributions. There is simply too much money in judicial races. The public should have confidence that justice is not for sale. Voters have a right to expect that the Judge they elect will be able to hear the cases that come before her, and should not ought to recuse herself. For those reasons, I have directed my campaign to limit contributions to $500.
I am honored to have earned the support of almost 800 judges, attorneys, elected officials and community leaders including former US Senator Russ Feingold, Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, and former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager. A complete list can be found at my website www.marilyntownsendforjudge.com
My desire to serve is strong. I will bring judicial experience, success in the Supreme Court, and a long history of commitment to equal justice and access to justice to my work on our Circuit Court. I would be honored by your vote on April 3.
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