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Candidate Profile: Kate Findley
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Lafayette County Circuit Judge

Kate Findley and Duane Jorgenson are running for the Lafayette County Circuit Court judge's seat to replace retiring William Johnston.

Position sought: Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge

Age: 49

City/town of residence: Darlington

Family: My husband, Brian Findley, is an attorney whose area of practice is appeals and acting as a court-appointed guardian ad litem. My parents live in Fond du Lac and both are retired. My father was a Lutheran minister and my mother an office manager. I have four siblings, one of whom is also a Lutheran minister currently serving two parishes in the Ixonia area.

Education: Associate of Arts, Milwaukee Area Technical College, May, 1987; Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, August, 1995; Juris Doctor, University of Miami School of Law, May, 1998

Occupation: District Attorney of Lafayette County.

Previous relevant experience: Office of the State Public Defender, Monroe, attorney manager, June 2011 to May, 2012; University of Wisconsin Law School, Remington Center, Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons, Assistant Clinical Professor - half time position, September 2007 to May 2011; University of Wisconsin Law School, Legal Defense Program, Assistant Clinical Professor - half time position, March 2002 to September, 2007; self-employed, Private criminal defense attorney handling trial and appellate cases in Lafayette County and around the state, December 2002 to May 2011; Wisconsin State Public Defender, Trial Division - Manitowoc Office, Assistant State Public Defender, October 1999 to March, 2002; Lakeshore Technical College, Adjunct Instructor, January 2000 to May 2001, awarded "Instructor of the Year, 2000 - 2001"; Prof., Edgardo Rotman, University of Miami School of Law, Research Assistant, May 1996 to May 1998; Broward County Public Defender's Office, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Certified Legal Intern, May 1997 to October, 1997; paralegal experience, July 1995 to September 1986, worked at various private law firms and government agencies as a paralegal.

What is your judicial philosophy?

A judge needs to approach cases without bias and apply the law firmly, fairly, and equally to all.

What personal qualities or characteristics, other than fairness and impartiality, would you bring to the bench?

I am hard-working, have common sense, and I believe that everyone should be treated with understanding, respect, and empathy.

Is there a case you have been involved with of which you are particularly proud? And is there a case you have been involved with that, in retrospect, you wish you had handled differently? Please explain.

I am very proud of the job I have done working on both side of our adversary system. Ethical rules prohibit me from revealing information regarding specific clients, but my public record speaks for itself.

Soon after I was elected Lafayette County District Attorney, we had a series of murders. This is not normal for our county, yet I believe that I handled all of the offenses with the utmost professionalism and to the best of my ability. I believe that I have demonstrated my abilities in handling these cases and this is why former Sheriff Scott Pedley and others have endorsed me for circuit court judge. I believe that I have proven under trying circumstances that I would be a fair and impartial judge, who is dedicated to the people of Lafayette County.

I am very proud of having been elected by the people of this county to serve as their district attorney. It has been my privilege to work together with law enforcement to keep the residents of Lafayette County safe, and I vow to work as diligently with law enforcements and our county's emergency personnel to be a fair and impartial as Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge.

Do you believe the current criminal/civil court system is effective, or do you believe our current justice system is becoming ineffective? Are there methods or changes you would like to see instituted to increase the effectiveness and/or efficiency of our court system?

No system is perfect. Improvements in the court system, however, are often dependent on additional funding, whether from the state or the county.

In an effort to address the issue of cases in which alcohol, drugs, or mental health issues played a part, some counties, especially those with larger populations, have treatment courts for OWI and other alcohol-related offenses, drug-related offenses, veteran's courts, and mental health treatment courts.

Right now, the veteran's court in Rock county accepts cases from other counties, including Lafayette County.

Treatment courts can have a positive effect on recidivism rates. However, treatment courts cost money and the county must be committed to fully funding the program. There are opportunities for grant money, but often the grant money does not cover the entire cost of any program and would be for a limited time so eventually the county would have to make up financially for any expired grants.

A potential solution for more rural counties may be to join forces and have regional treatment courts that cover two or three counties where the costs are shared by the participating counties. As judge, I would gladly participate in the creation of such courts should there be county-wide support to create them.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

My husband and I chose to live and work here in Lafayette county. I am committed to the people of this county and to ensure that Lafayette county remains a safe place to live, work, and play.

My record shows that I am capable, diligent, and prepared to be Lafayette County Circuit Court judge. I believe that I am the best candidate for Lafayette Circuit Court Judge because I have a passion for the law. I have an associate degree in paralegal studies, a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in political science, and a law degree. I started my legal career as a paralegal and worked my way up. That is when I fell in love with the law. I continued my education, slowly paid my dues and worked my way up the chain of responsibility. During my time as a clinical law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, I had the opportunity to represent clients all over the state from the Mississippi River to Milwaukee and from Rock County to Marathon County. This was an invaluable time for me because it allowed me to appear in front of many good judges and a few not-so-good ones. That unique and diverse experience taught me the virtues of running an efficient and fair courtroom. I, and the students I supervised, assisted many clients with problems in various areas of law, including bankruptcy, probate and estates, civil lawsuits, family law and child custody issues, and appellate issues.

In addition, I have been a public defender and now a prosecutor, and I understand the system from both perspectives. This experience will enable me to be firm and fair. I believe my abilities are best reflected by the fact that I have endorsements from both Sheriff Pedley and other law enforcement officers and also from several defense attorneys who represent clients in this county. Finally, my record speaks for itself. As district attorney, I have never lost a jury trial.

The citizens of Lafayette County expect their judge to be firm, fair, and impartial. Just as lawyers have to follow ethical rules regarding confidentiality, a judge has to follow specific ethical rules, including not discussing confidential matters with others. As judge, I will carefully follow these rules of judicial conduct.

As the Lafayette County district attorney I am, and have to be, available to law enforcement 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The judge also has to be on call 24-7.

I also believe that my passion for Lafayette County, my passion for the practice of law, and my admiration for the many dedicated law enforcement and emergency government volunteers will make me the best choice for circuit court judge.