Jessica Karmasek Sep. 16, 2015, 12:50pm


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks announced Wednesday he will not seek another term on the state’s high court.

Crooks’ current term ends July 31, 2016.

By the time he retires, he will have served nearly 39 years as a Wisconsin judge, including 20 years as a state Supreme Court justice.

“Today is the 38th anniversary of my swearing in for the Brown County bench and marks an occasion that had a dramatic effect on my life and my career in the law,” Crooks said in a statement.

“I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve as a judge and justice and to have had the support of the voters of Brown County and Wisconsin over the years.”

Crooks’ decision opens the door for state Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, who announced in June that she again is running for a seat on the Supreme Court.

In 2011, Kloppenburg lost to Justice David Prosser. At the time, she was an assistant attorney general.

“We need judges who are impartial and not beholden to any special interests or political party,” Kloppenburg said in video posted on her campaign website.

“Justice should not be for sale.”

After losing a recount to Prosser by about 7,000 votes, she conceded defeat and in 2012 was elected to the state’s District 4 Court of Appeals.

She had worked as a litigator and prosecutor with the state Department of Justice since 1989.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge M. Joseph Donald also has filed paperwork to run for a seat on the Supreme Court -- presumed to be Crooks’ up until his announcement Wednesday.

Crooks, who has sat on the court since 1996, was considering another 10-year term, despite saying last year he would not seek re-election.

The justice’s retirement date coincides with the end of his current term and will give voters a chance to choose his replacement on the Supreme Court in the 2016 spring election.

“Supreme Court justices play a crucial role in our legal system and in our form of government. People rely on all judges, including Supreme Court justices, to decide cases fairly and impartially, according to the law and the facts of each case,” Crooks said.

“A judge must be nonpartisan and independent in deciding cases, and in carrying out her or his role in a co-equal branch of government.”

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the spring primary is set for Feb. 16, 2016, with the general election to be held Nov. 8, 2016.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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