A week before the end of one political cycle, a Supreme Court candidate is gearing up for the next.
Marla Stephens, the appellate division director for the State Public Defender, today announced her candidacy for state Supreme Court, looking to oust Justice David Prosser.
The election is on April 5. If Stephens proves to be a serious contender the race could set the stage for another battle between liberal and conservative interests, which in recent years has led to record-breaking fund-raising efforts and lavish special interest spending.
Prosser, who was appointed by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998 and elected to his current 10-year term in 2001, is a member of the court's conservative faction, which, with the contentious election of Michael Gableman in 2008, gained a majority on the high court.
Stephens says her recent 10-year stint as chair of the Wisconsin Judicial Council, which makes recommendations on legislation, procedures and organization that affects the state court system, gives her the experience to do the job. The council includes a Supreme Court justice, currently Patience Roggensack, appeals and circuit court judges, legislators, the state attorney general, the director of state courts, the Legislative Reference Bureau chief, law school deans from the UW and Marquette University, the state public defender and the president elect of the State Bar.
"I have spent my legal career defending the rights and interests of individuals and working to improve the justice system, in the trial and appellate courts, before the Legislature and its committees, in the executive branch and its agencies, and within the public defender office," she says in a statement announcing her candidacy. "I understand the work of the Supreme Court in deciding cases, rulemaking, disciplining the legal professions and administering all of the state courts."