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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Your Choice: Judge Brostrom or Judge Lipscomb?

Voters will decide on April 7

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Candidates Ellen Brostrom, a partner at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, and Glendale Municipal Court Judge Christopher Lipscomb are stressing their experience and commitment to the community they campaign for a position on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. But both are concerned about turning out the vote in the spring election on April 7, which has notoriously low voter participation. One of these candidates will likely fill a position in children’s court or misdemeanor court, at least initially. The Shepherd asked them to make their case for the voters.

Ellen Brostrom: I’m Qualified and I Care

“Our local judges races are terribly important because there are so many aspects people’s lives that local judges touch,” Brostrom said, “whether it’s CHIPS proceedings for a child who’s suffering from abuse or neglect, or it’s an adoption, or a divorce, or probating a will after someone has died, or deciding a business dispute, someone has been the victim of a crime. These are huge events in someone’s lives, and often very difficult events, and judges make a huge difference in the outcomes of those events and how people feel about the outcome.”

Brostrom, who is stressing her 13 years litigation experience, is also highlighting her volunteer work on the parish council the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and the board of Community Advocates— Milwaukee Women’s Center. She says her community involvement is proof that she heeds the “call to service.”

“If I were elected I would continue with those efforts,” Brostrom said. “So on the one hand I’m going to hopefully be on the bench, trying to help people when they’ve gotten to the crisis point, but I’m also going to stay sort of farther upstream hoping help people so that they don’t ever get to the crisis point and come to court.”

While her opponent, Lipscomb, says that already has judicial experience, Brostrom said her background better prepares her for the bench.

“I have tremendous respect for his service as a municipal court judge,” Brostrom said. “It’s a part-time job, a couple of hours week. None of it is criminal. It’s parking tickets and municipal violations. I think it’s apples and oranges. The circuit court is high-volume court with criminal defendants and the ability to terminate parental rights and take children out of a family home and place them somewhere else. It’s higher volume, higher stakes, more com experience in circuit court.”

To learn more about Ellen Brostrom, go to www.ellenforjudge.com.

Christopher Lipscomb: I’ve Already Got Experience

Lipscomb says that his experience as a municipal judge in Glendale makes him qualified to step into the circuit court and get to work immediately.

“I would argue that I’ve got 11 years of experience of what I’m like as a judge,” Lipscomb said. “I think that’s critical. I know how much I’ve changed in this time period. There are things that I do differently now than I did when I first started, when I was on some kind of crusade; I was going to change things, fix things. Then you realize that it’s not always your role or something you can accomplish as a judge.”

Lipscomb said the cases he hears are a broad section of the community’s legal problems: first-offense drunken driving charges, retail theft, underage drinking, drug possession and traffic stops.

“Glendale is one of the busiest municipal courts on the North Shore,” Lipscomb said. Lipscomb said he tries to work with juvenile offenders so that they understand the consequences of their actions. He said that getting through to young offenders can help them change their behaviors before they become habitual offenders. He said he connects to many of them because he was born in the Northlawn Housing Development and understands his less privileged defendants.

“Every defendant says they’re going to change, but part of the job is figuring out who that is possibly true for,” Lipscomb said. “I’m amazed sometimes. Some kids follow through when I really didn’t expect it. I call it ‘panning for gold.’”

Lipscomb also has a general legal practice and formerly worked as a municipal prosecutor. He says he’s better qualified for the circuit court than Brostrom is. “I think my legal background is more wide-ranging than hers,” Lipscomb said. “I’ve done hundreds of cases as a judge, prosecutor and defense attorney. I can’t find more than a half-dozen cases of hers. And the fact that I’ve done all sides of things gives me a different perspective. My clients are mom-and-pop places or individuals, essentially the kinds of people you’re going to deal with [in circuit court]. I believe I’ve always been fair to people.”

To learn more about Christopher Lipscomb, go to www.promotejudgelipscomb.com

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.