On Thursday, January 11, 2024, Fox News reported that the Wisconsin Judicial Commission dismissed the complaints filed by former state courts director Randy Koschnick. According to the report, the Judicial Commission considered complaints filed by Koschnick against four liberal justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the interim director of state courts, Audrey Skwierawski.
Koschnick had filed the complaints in August 2023 after being fired by the four liberal justices – Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karofsky, Janet Protasiewicz, and Ann Walsh Bradley. At the time, Koschnick publicly spoke about filing the complaints. This prompted a response from the three justices – Dallet, Karofsky, and Protasiewicz – who argued that Koschnick had broken confidentiality laws by publicly discussing complaints that were meant to be kept private during the commission’s review.
In his complaints, Koschnick alleged that the appointment of Skwierawski as interim director of state courts was unconstitutional since the state constitution prevents judges from holding non-judicial offices until their terms end. However, the Judicial Commission’s executive director Jeremiah Van Hecke stated in letters to the four justices and Skwierawski’s lawyer that they found no misconduct in her hiring. With Skwierawski resigning as judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit at the end of December 2023, the commission also said she is no longer under their jurisdiction and dismissed the complaint against her.
Skwierawski’s lawyer, Matthew O’Neill, then sent a letter waiving confidentiality of the complaint in order to clear her name. For his part, Koschnick maintained he had done nothing wrong by speaking publicly about the complaints, citing his First Amendment rights and view that he had a “civil and moral obligation” to file them.
The three liberal justices – Dallet, Karofsky and Protasiewicz – sent a strongly worded letter criticizing the commission for not taking disciplinary action against Koschnick for breaking confidentiality rules. They argued Koschnick’s actions amounted to “a partisan attempt to undermine the court’s authority” and that failing to admonish him would damage public confidence in the judiciary.
Koschnick was appointed director of state courts in 2017 by the then-conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. However, control flipped to liberals in August 2023 after Justice Protasiewicz’s election victory in April, enabling them to fire Koschnick. The new majority has since made other significant changes, such as curbing the chief justice’s powers and tossing out legislative maps drawn by Republicans.
The Judicial Commission’s dismissal of the complaints closes the latest chapter in ongoing tensions between conservatives and liberals over control of the state court system, which will likely continue as both sides debate the appropriate powers and makeup of the director role.
Source: Fox News