In the race for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 17 judge, three candidates have lined up to serve a term on the bench.
Judge Nelson Phillips III is seeking his first full term on the bench, but will need to face off in Tuesday’s primary election with municipal court Judge Christopher Lipscomb and administrative law Judge Carolina Stark. The top two vote-getters will face off in April 3 spring general election.
Phillips, 42, of Wauwatosa, is a 1998 graduate of the UW-Madison law school, and was appointed as judge in October.
He said his experience as a state and federal prosecutor, and as a private practice attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, make him qualified to be elected to the position.
“I have a passion for the process,” he said. “Litigation has always been a passion of mine and to see that justice is done.”
As a judge, Phillips said he has worked to make sure the law is applied consistently and accurately through the course of every case.
He has also sought an environment of respect within his courtroom because of the passion he has for the community. Phillips said as a father and active member in the community, he wants to make sure he can make an impact as a judge to help the community as a whole.
If elected to serve a full term on the bench, Phillips said he will work to preserve the legacy of fairness exuded by great judges to serve in Milwaukee County.
Lipscomb, 49, of Glendale, is a 1991 graduate of Marquette University law school. He is making his second run at the circuit court bench after losing to Judge Pedro Colon in the Branch 18 election in 2011.
Lipscomb served as a municipal judge for nearly 15 years and worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. He was working in the field before either of the other candidates graduated law school, and pointed to his experience as a strong point.
“I’m a judge people would want to appear in front of,” he said. “I’m not representing them and I can’t be their advocate, but I give them a chance to be heard.”
Lipscomb said he wanted to practice law in order to help solve problems while dealing with the intricacies of the law. He said the position is a good fit for his personality as well because he likes people and the research that accompanies cases.
He said his temperament would fit well with being a judge and the position would also allow him to continue helping the community he cares so much about.
Stark, 34, of Milwaukee, is a 2002 graduate of the UW-Madison law school and has served as an administrative law judge for the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Division for the past five years.
She said she wants to be a judge because it will allow her to continue serving her community while bringing a unique perspective to the court as a bilingual Latino woman.
“Sound decision making,” Stark said when asked what qualities are important for a judge to have. “Making decisions based on the law and the ability to work with people with diverse backgrounds and to treat them fairly.”
As an administrative law judge for the past five years, Stark said she has handled a steady pace of cases and has kept up with the volume while keeping a cool demeanor in the process. She also worked as trial attorney, is heavily engaged in the community and serves on the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.
Stark said she also would be a unique candidate for the position because she’s the only City of Milwaukee resident in the race.