Embattled judge signals he’ll run for re-election

Voiland would face two challengers in rare primary election fueled by courthouse controversy
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland filed a campaign registration statement last week indicating he is running for re-election after a tumultuous first term in office. 

Voiland faces two challengers — lawyers Angela Foy and Mark Larson, both Cedarburg residents — in a rare circuit court race  that will require a primary election and is being fueled in part by the controversy surrounding the Branch II incumbent.

“It’s striking to me how many accusations, allegations and lawsuits have been initiated by one judge in his first term, and how uncomfortable that must be to all who work at the courthouse,” Foy said in an interview this week. “As someone who practices there frequently, this negativity permeates the atmosphere.

“I believe a judge is most effective when concluding disputes instead of instigating them.”

Larson said, “I’ve had no personal interactions with him (Voiland), but obviously it’s highly unusual to have the kind of situation that’s developed here.

“And the fact that this is not limited to the courthouse, that it involves the chief judge of the entire district, is concerning.”

Voiland, who is also a Cedarburg resident, unseated longtime Judge Tom Wolfgram in 2013 with a campaign that focused on Wolfgram’s signing of the Gov. Scott Walker recall petition.

As remarkable as Voiland’s upset of Wolfgram was, so too has been his first term in office.

He prompted two investigations of the Ozaukee County Court System with accusations that records had been falsified to undermine him and three court officials had committed criminal miscon-duct in office.       The latest investi-gation, which was ordered by Chief Judge of Wisconsin’s Third Judicial District Jennifer Dorow, concluded there was no evidence of criminal misconduct.

In the wake of that probe, which was concluded earlier this year, Voiland filed a lawsuit against Dorow and threatened others with legal action related to the investigation.

Foy called the investigations “pointless” and said she would repair the damage done to the court system.

“The pointless investigations have wasted time and money, which affects the courthouse’s efficiency and effectiveness,” she said. “I’m running because I see the potential for how much better we can become.”

Larson, 57, a partner in the Milwaukee law firm Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson who specializes in medical malpractice and general liability law, said his 32 years of legal experience have prepared him well to be a judge.

“I can be very aggressive representing my clients but I’ve always maintained the ability to work with my adversaries and the courts,” he said. “One of my goals in life is to be a problem solver.”

Foy, 40, a shareholder in the Milwaukee law firm Halling & Cayo who specializes in family law, said her breadth of courtroom experience and background as a teacher have prepared her to become a judge.

Voiland, 45, focused on financial services litigation with the Milwaukee-based law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren before being elected judge.

He did not respond to requests for an interview.

Voiland, Foy and Larson have all filed campaign registration statements. They have until 5 p.m. Jan. 2, to collect at least 200 signatures and file nomination papers. 

Provided the candidates meet that deadline, a Feb. 19 primary election will be held. The two candidates who win the most votes will advance to the April 2 general election.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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