By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
When it comes to criminal justice reform Ed Fallone has always ahead of the curve. For years, Fallone has served on the board or worked at places such as Centro Legal or Voces de la Frontera Acción.
In addition to being an expert on constitutional law and a law professor at Marquette University, Fallone has spent the majority of his career on making the judicial system more accessible to his clients and students alike. Now, he’s ready to move his classroom to a statewide scale.
Fallone is campaigning to be on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His is currently running against Daniel Kelly and Jill Karofsky. It’s his second time running, the first being in 2013 and part of the reason Fallone decided to run again was due to the lack of diversity on the court.
“I feel very passionately that in Wisconsin we need a more diverse set of judges,” Fallone said. “Diverse in terms of legal experience, in who their clients have been and in terms of life experience.”
There shouldn’t be seven judges with the same experience on the court, he said. The diversity of the state needs to be reflected in the judicial system.
In terms of diversity, Fallone, who in addition to being Latino, would be bringing the perspective of a defense attorney. There are currently three prosecutors on the court. His campaign has taught him that Wisconsinites want diversity too.
People want to see a more diverse court, he said. His travels throughout the state have also taught him that people have two main concerns. They want a system that is run by local government with limited say from the federal branch. People are also concerned about the attack on voting rights in Wisconsin, which can be seen through gerrymandering, the current issue with voter rolls and more.
As a constitutional law expert, Fallone is well versed in Wisconsin law and the government’s limitations and abilities. As a justice, Fallone would make sure the people being affected by the decision understand why it was made.
The reasoning of court should be explained and understood by the public, he said. If elected, Fallone would use his knowledge as a basis for civic education.
“I would hope that I could use my position on the supreme court to explain to the public ‘Here’s what one side is arguing and here’s the other and here’s why one is right and one is wrong,’” Fallone said.
During his time with Centro Legal, Fallone made sure his clients understood how the system worked. He often worked with low-income clients and immigrants, who were thrown into the judicial system without a clear understanding of what to do.
People need help, they need lawyers and experts to help them navigate the legal system, but too often their needs are being ignored, Fallone said. As Fallone has proven throughout his career, it’s possible to make lawyers affordable and available for everyone.
There needs to be a focus on making the justice system work better for everyone regardless of their income or background. Fallone also wants to help people dealing with substance abuse, mental illness or homelessness.
There needs to be a method in the court system that offers treatment or a solution to address the underlying need, he said. While there’s currently a plethora of pilot programs, these programs need to become the rule, not the exception, he said.
Wisconsin is ready and wanting change, Fallone said and he believes he’s the man for the job.
The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18 with the general election to take place on Tuesday, April 7. To learn more about Ed Fallone visit falloneforjustice.com.