MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The newly elected chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court says she will focus on repairing the damage that has been done to the reputation of the state’s high court.


Chief Justice Patience Roggensack did not provide specifics in a statement released late Thursday, but said she also plans to find ways for the court to “better serve the public.”

“Innovation can be important,” she said of her other focus. “For example, I proposed, and the court enacted, the Supreme Court Finance Committee, to permit all justices to have broad access to financial information that affects the court system.


“I also proposed, and the court enacted, a more stream-lined method of opinion preparation, which began this term. It has significantly reduced the time between oral argument and release of the court’s opinions to the public.”


Roggensack’s statement came a day after she and three other justices voted to have her head the court -- even as a federal lawsuit filed by former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson still looms. Abrahamson still believes she holds the position.


The vote took place Wednesday, the same day the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board met and certified the statewide vote that changed the way the chief justice is selected.


Under the new amendment, adopted by voters April 7, members of the court elect the chief justice, bringing it in line with the majority of states. Previously, selection was based on seniority.


Abrahamson, along with justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Patrick Crooks, objected to the vote.


“The chief justice plays a crucial role, not only on behalf of the Supreme Court, but also for the state court system as a whole,” Roggensack said. “I look forward to working with my fellow justices and with judges throughout the state to ensure Wisconsin has an effective, efficient and responsive court system.”


The court’s newly elected leader said she plans on engaging each of the six “very talented” justices to permit a “more inclusive administration, wherein justices will be asked to assume leadership of areas of the Supreme Court’s administration of the judicial branch of government.”


And while Roggensack is entitled to a pay raise of $8,000 a year, she said she plans to donate it.


“I have instructed court payroll that I am donating all of that additional compensation to the Access to Justice Commission, which arranges civil legal services for those persons who are unable to afford them,” she said.


Roggensack was first elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2003 and was reelected in 2013.


Prior to joining the Wisconsin Supreme Court, she served on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for seven years.


She is a 1980 honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, and she practiced law for 16 years before beginning her judicial career.  


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