Thursday, December 11, 2008

Belling goes off on Abrahamson opponent

The first dirt gets thrown in the 2009 State Supreme Court race, with the usual spin -- lawyers who defend criminals are scum, unqualified to sit on the bench.

Interesting twist, though. It's Republican radio ranter Mark Belling doing the slinging, which is not unusual. But his target is the right wing's candidate. Here's Belling:
Abrahamson’s opponent, Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick, calls himself a judicial conservative who won’t legislate from the bench. He decries Abrahamson’s rulings that have damaged the state’s business climate and her obsession with overturning the convictions of criminals. But Koschnick has as much credibility on these issues as I do at a teachers union meeting.

Randy Koschnick was Ted Oswald’s lawyer. You remember Ted. He killed a cop. Oswald and his father, James, went on a crime spree in 1994 that started with a bank robbery in Wales and ended with a shootout in which the Oswalds fired at least six shots at Waukesha Police Capt. James Lutz. Captain Lutz died. Both Oswalds are now serving life prison terms. Randy Koschnick is the lawyer who tried to help Ted Oswald get away with murdering a cop.

This is the guy who wants to claim Shirley Abrahamson is soft on crime?
Unlike Alberta Darling, I don't think the Chief will be using Belling to make autocalls for her campaign.


  1. Regardless of the Belling's lack of any intellectual honesty, this guy was providing Oswald with his constitutionally guaranteed right to representation.

    So Mark. Anybody who represents a high-profile defendant should be unfit to run for the Supreme Court -- though he may have other reasons why he is unfit.

  2. Obviously, it's a good time to ask Belling and friends why it's not OK to be a public defender. Louis Butler sits anxiously in the front row, awaiting the explanation.

  3. What belling is trying to say and you are to able to grasp the issue is this guy is running as a conservative when being a public defender or criminal lawyer almost always means you are not conservative. Belling is just pointing this out. He did not say the guy can't run or provide representation of a thug. Just don't run as a conservative.

  4. Dan, are you suggesting that Koschnick isn't a conservative? He says he is. And he's hired/been-recruited-by the same folks who ran Gableman and Ziegler. You think they don't know from conservative?

  5. Dan, how many public defenders do you actually know?

    And when I ask that, I mean how many have you actually met, spent time with, and had an opportunity to discern their political views?

    I ask because I've met more than a few public defenders in my life, and more than a fair share were conservative. I know it's a hard concept to wrap your brain around, but some folks - conservative and liberal alike - believe in the importance of a vigorous criminal defense as an integral part of our nation's criminal justice system.

  6. Dan follows the school of common misperception.

  7. I'm a conserative lawyer in the Milwaukee area and I have been done criminal defense work for 27+ years.

    Let me begin by acknowledging that Chief Justice Abrahamson is arguably the hardest working judge in Wisconsin and certainly one of the brightest.

    I have argued cases before probably over 20 times and have enormous respect for her. Ten years ago I voted for her in her race against Sharon Rose.

    In this election I'm supporting Randy Koschnick. I've known Randy for most of my career, and especially well for the last several years. He is a former public defender who was elected as a Jefferson County Circuit Judge about 9 years ago.

    He is well-respected, deeply principled, hard working and extremely bright. He was named a "Leader in the Law" by the Wisconsin Law Journal this year.

    Belling's rant that Randy's prior work as a defense attorney somehow disqualifies him from the court, or means that Randy is not a conservative is ludicrous.

    It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of our adversary system. The bizarre idea that only liberals can work as defense attorneys (and its logical corollary that only conservatives can be prosecutors) does not withstand serious scrutiny.

    Maybe one unintended consequence of this debate is that supporters of both candidates will be less likely to caricature their opponent.

    Chief Justice Abrahamson is a liberal (or if you prefer progressive) and Randy is a conservative. However, knowing this about each of them does not enable one to predict with certainty how they will vote on a given case.