Branch 3 of the Columbia County Circuit Court has been vacant since Judge Alan J. White retired in September 2017. Whoever is elected needs to be prepared to hit the ground running and get right to work. Brenda Yaskal is the best candidate to be able to do that for several reasons.
First, Brenda has the broadest range of experience of any of the candidates. Not only has she practiced both criminal and civil law, Brenda also has experience with both administrative law and county administration. In addition, Brenda has significant experience that she gained prior to becoming a lawyer. Brenda worked for seven years with at-risk youth in Madison before going to law school. These juveniles, who had already been through the court system, were her first look at how the court system affects real people in very real ways. Being able to draw on that experience is going to be extremely helpful as she decides cases. Brenda won’t be deciding cases in a vacuum with no sense of what happens after the parties leave the courtroom; she has seen what happens and she’ll apply that knowledge to her decision-making process.
Second, Brenda will have almost no immediate conflicts of interest that might prevent her from taking a case. A judge should be free of conflict on any case that he or she hears. That means that someone who is elected from the District Attorney’s office, for example, can’t hear any criminal cases for some time after taking the bench. A judge can’t hear any cases that he or she might have worked on or heard about or helped with because that would be a conflict. Because Brenda has been working in Sauk County for the past year and a half, she does not have that conflict that the other candidates would have so she can hear most criminal cases immediately. Brenda will be restricted from hearing cases that she worked on when she was in the District Attorney’s office, however, most of those cases have been completed.
Lastly, Brenda is not afraid of hard work. And being a judge, especially at first, is a lot of hard work. When she was in law school, she went to school full-time and worked part-time, while also volunteering as a Cub Scout leader, and still graduated cum laude (with honors). As a single parent for the past five and a half years, Brenda has worked full-time and taught college classes part-time while raising both of her children. Brenda knows how to prioritize and work efficiently and she intends to bring efficiency to her role as judge in the Columbia County court system.