Appeals Court Judge, District IV

Six-year term

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals consists of 16 judges serving in four districts. The Wisconsin Supreme Court appoints one of these judges to be the chief judge and to serve as administrative head of the court of appeals for a three-year term. The clerk of the supreme court serves as the clerk for the court of appeals. Court of appeals judges are elected for six-year terms in the nonpartisan April election and begin their terms of office on the following August 1. They must reside in the district from which they are elected. Only one court of appeals judge may be elected in a district in any one year. In the event of a vacancy, the governor may appoint a person to serve until an election can be held to fill the seat. [From the Wisconsin Blue Book]


JoAnne F. Kloppenburg, incumbent

Questions were provided by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

JoAnne F. Kloppenburg

Madison, WI 53726

1. What educational, occupational, civic and community experiences have you had that particularly qualify you for this elective office? For 28 years I’ve stood up for the people of Wis. as a judge & assistant attorney general. As a judge on the Court of Appeals, I’ve issued hundreds of thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions. Before being elected to the Court, I was a litigator at the Wis. Dept. of Justice, handling environmental, constitutional, & other cases in circuit courts around Wis., the Court of Appeals & Wis. Supreme Court, & federal courts. I served in Peace Corps in Africa before law school & volunteered extensively since.

2. Describe in lay terms what the Court of Appeals does and the challenges facing it. How would you propose to address them? Anyone who loses a case in Circuit Court has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals. We decide about 3,000 cases a year; the Supreme Court which chooses its cases hears about 65. Appeals judges must uphold the constitution, decide cases without fear or favor, protect individual rights, reach decisions free of partisan or ideological bias. I support efforts to increase access to the courts for those who can’t afford lawyers & to work on initiatives to reduce racial disparities in the courts.

3. Would you be in favor of the adoption by the Supreme Court of standard rules requiring the recusal of judges from cases involving a major campaign contributor or supporter? Why or why not? Stronger recusal rules based on objective standards such as campaign contributions would help increase the public’s trust in the courts, but are not enough to restore the public’s confidence in the courts as an independent branch of government. We also need stronger disclosure rules for candidates & third-parties; public financing & other efforts to limit the money spent on judicial elections; calling out messages that misrepresent & distort how the justice system works; & no voter suppression.