Bill Gates once wrote that “[w]e always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Mr. Gates surely wasn’t thinking about the turnover of judges on Wisconsin’s Court of Appeals when he wrote that, but a review of the court’s membership over the last 10 years illustrates his point superbly.
We began to think about how much change has occurred in Wisconsin’s intermediate appellate court in the last decade with the announcements that Judge Patricia Curley (District 1) will retire later this month and that Judge Paul Higginbotham (District 4) will not run for re-election in the spring. The Governor has appointed Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Timothy Dugan to replace Judge Curley; Judge Higginbotham’s replacement will take office August 1 (Rock County Circuit Judge Michael Fitzpatrick is the only announced candidate for the position).
We did a little more digging, and the results surprised us. While we expected to find some change, perhaps even substantial change, we did not expect to find that the turnover has been nearly total.