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Supreme Court primary slated for Feb. 15

Next Tuesday Wisconsin voters will go to the polls to cut the number of candidates for a seat on the state Supreme Court from four to two.

The incumbent, David T. Prosser, will face off Feb. 15 against an assistant attorney general, a private-practice attorney and a division director in the state public defender's office. The general election will be April 5.

These are the candidates:

JoAnne F. Kloppenburg, Madison, is an assistant attorney general with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. She has been with the DOJ for 21 years.

According to her Website, www.kloppenburgforju, her legal experience includes constitutional law, appellate law, civil litigation, environmental prosecution and administrative law. She has argued numerous cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and she has tried cases in circuit courts around the state.

"Wisconsin residents deserve to have confidence that judges are impartial and independent decision-makers who apply the law fairly and clearly based on the facts," said Kloppenburg. "That is what my background and broad legal experience have prepared me to do."

Kloppenburg holds an undergraduate degree from Yale and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1988. She has been a teacher at the UW Law School since 1990.

David T. Prosser Jr., Appleton, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998 and then elected to a 10-year term in 2001.

Prosser received his Bachelor's degree from DePauw University in 1965 and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1968.

According to his campaign Website, www.justicepros, Prosser has served 18 years in the Legislature, two years as Outagamie County district attorney and more than two years in the U.S. Department of Justice.

"I present myself as a judicial conservative, devoted to the Constitution and the rule of law," said Prosser. "My job is to find the law and apply it properly, not to make it up to advance some ideological objective."

According to his Website, in 12 years, he has participated in more than 900 published Supreme Court decisions and has written opinions in almost every area of law.

Marla J. Stephens, Milwaukee, is the director of the state public defender's office appellate division.

She received her undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee and graduated from the Marquette University Law School in 1981.

According to her Website,, she has served nearly two decades as a public defender. In her early years she worked in the Milwaukee public defender's trial office. She worked in the Milwaukee appellate office from 1988-1994, where she represented clients in the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.

She served as first assistant state public defender from 1994-1996, supervising attorneys, investigators and clerical staff, liaising with trial and appellate courts, and overseeing and certifying private attorneys.

Stephens was appointed to the Judicial Council of Wisconsin in 1996, was named chairperson of the Appellate Procedure Committee in 1997 and continued to serve on the Judicial Council as either vice-chair or chair until 2010.

Joel Winnig, Madison, is a private-practice attorney who put himself through college.

According to his Website,, his "upbringing, passion for justice and commitment to Wisconsin's families inspired (Winnig) to become a lawyer and small business owner, representing everyday Wisconsinites."

The site continues, "He fights for working families, like employees of Oscar Mayer, Sub-Zero and public employees, ensuring they have quality, fair representation. To Joel, being a lawyer has never just been about making money. That's why he started his own firm, even when it was the tougher route to go. He sees being a lawyer as a promise to help others."

"Now he wants to bring his passion for helping people and his record of fighting for positive change and social justice to the Supreme Court. (Winnig) wants to help take control of the court away from special interests and return it to the people of Wisconsin."