Speaking at a Sheboygan GOP Issues Forum Setting the Course 2017, Judge Dan Borowski and Judge Kent Hoffmann spoke about their impressions as Sheboygan County’s newest judges. Both judges graduated from UW Madison Law School in the early ‘90’s but have very different legal experience. Judge Hoffmann, having served 17 years as public defender in Milwaukee and more than 7 years as prosecutor in Marinette County, has a specialty in criminal law while Judge Hoffman specialized in civil litigation for more than 20 years in the Milwaukee area. After an extensive application process and interviews by members of the legal community, both were appointed by Governor Walker to finish the terms of two retiring Sheboygan judges. Though their legal backgrounds differ, they both describe themselves as conservative judges. "It matters who your judges are," Judge Borowski pointed out. "Conservative judges, whether they be Republican or Democrat, will rule based on what the law actually says", he pointed out, "while liberal judges tend to rule based on what they would like the law to say. It’s the job of legislators like Assemblyman Terry Katsma", who was in attendance at the gathering, "to make laws. It’s our job as judge’s job to enforce laws whether we like them or not. Liberal judges tend to give themselves no such limitations", he observed, noting how a liberal judge from Hawaii recently ignored the law and overrode the legal authority of the president to limit entry to this country of individuals from countries that export terror.
Both judges spoke about the high volume of criminal activity in the county, kicking off a discussion about causes: the collapse of the family, the disappearance of commonly held societal norms, the increase of drug and alcohol addiction, the lack of language skills among many of those living in the county illegally, the sheer increase in the number of laws being made. . . . Whatever the causes, the fact remains that the system must become much more efficient and better utilize digital technology to speed the process, Judge Borowski observed.
Judge Hoffman, though accustomed to the chaos and wide range of criminal activity in the Milwaukee, Marinette, and now Sheboygan, noted that the high volume doesn’t change the fact that their judicial decisions have far reaching impacts on the lives of people. The serious nature of these decisions keeps them awake at night. Both judges observed that despite the increasing pressure on the system, they have been impressed by the high quality of both defense and prosecution lawyering in Sheboygan County.
The most serious problem facing our community, both judges agree is the increase of addiction. Drugs and alcohol impact the lives of people at every socio-economic level, contributing to the carnage on the highway, domestic violence, burglary, and homicide. In more than 20 years of practice, Judge Hoffmann has found that most heroin users started with marijuana. “They’re smoking dope when they’re 14—using heroin in their 20’s,” he observed. Although they’re seeing a lot of people moving from medical oxy’s to cheap heroine, marijuana is still a gateway drug, he stated.
“But it’s a problem that won’t be solved in the courts,” he noted. Although both see Sheboygan County’s new drug court as a move in the right direction, they agree that the epidemic requires a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional approach.
All of the judges on our April 4 ballot are running unopposed. The public, however, will spot Judge Borowski campaign signs sprouting up around the county, driving home the point: "It really does matter who your judges are. "