Fact checks on Rebecca Dallet and Michael Screnock in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Judges Rebecca Dallet, who is backed by liberals, and Michael Screnock, who is backed by conservatives, are running for Wisconsin Supreme Court. (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Judges Rebecca Dallet, who is backed by liberals, and Michael Screnock, who is backed by conservatives, are running for Wisconsin Supreme Court. (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A Wisconsin Supreme Court race that has drawn national attention will be decided by voters on April 3, 2018.

Here’s a review of our fact checks on the two judges who are running: Rebecca Dallet of Milwaukee County, who is supported by liberals, and Michael Screnock of Sauk County, who is supported by conservatives.

(Madison lawyer Tim Burns was eliminated in the February 2018 primary election.)

Dallet: Screnock "is running with the Koch brothers' support."

Our rating: Half True

While Screnock’s views would clearly match more closely with the Koch brothers than the views of Dallet, there is no evidence the billionaires have given money directly to Screnock’s campaign or made statements supportive of it.

Still, the primary group they support -- Americans for Prosperity -- has been active in the race, through get-out-the-vote efforts, though not ad buys. In addition, another group that may be tied to the Koch brothers did some ad buys in the primary.

Wisconsin Republican Party: Says is a "hypocrite" because she "took money from attorneys with over 100 cases before her."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Dallet has received campaign donations from lawyers who had cases in her court -- something that is common in judicial campaigns and allowed by state judicial ethics rules.

But on the hypocrite part of the statement by the GOP, which is supporting Screnock, Dallet did not pledge that she would not accept contributions from lawyers who had cases before her. Rather, her pledge was to recuse herself from cases in which her husband’s law firm was involved.

Dallet: Screnock "let a child predator walk without time and let a rapist who preyed on an underage girl go free after only an eight-month sentence."

Our rating: Mostly True.

In the first case, an older male teen repeatedly had sex with a younger female teen, who told authorities the relationship was consensual. He was sentenced to five years of probation, but no time behind bars.

In the second case, a 16-year-old said a 24-year-old man forced her to have intercourse and he was sentenced two years of probation, including eight months in jail, after pleading no contest to a reduced sexual assault charge. The maximum possible jail sentence for the misdemeanor, the result of a plea bargain, was nine months.

Screnock: Dallet "has talked about her interest in advocating for policies that need to be changed to achieve her political objectives."

Our rating: Mostly True.

Dallet frequently says she is merely stating her values, such as equal rights or clean air and water, and often she singles out those issues without advocating for a particular policy position. But on some occasions she has gone beyond that.

For example, after citing clean air and water, and equal protection as her values, she pledged to "advocate for the policies that need to be changed." And she has advocated for addressing "mass" incarceration; increasing voter participation and not allowing the sale of AR-15 guns.

Dallet: During the Supreme Court campaign, Screnock has "vowed to uphold the platform of the NRA."

Our rating: Half True.

Screnock told the NRA his job is to be an arbiter of the law, including the Second Amendment, and not a political activist. But he hasn’t gone so far as to vow to uphold any particular platform.

Dallet: As a judge, she has "presided over more than 10,000 cases."

Our rating: True.

The best-available count shows Dallet has handled some 11,800 cases, including criminal and civil matters.

Screnock: Burns and Dallet "have openly criticized laws signed by Governor Walker that they disagree with and are campaigning as activists who will implement their policies from the bench."

Our rating: Half True.

Before the primary, Burns had been explicit on both counts. Dallet hadn’t criticized laws signed by Walker or campaigned to implement certain policies, although she had identified certain issues that are important to her.