Since 2015, it has been my honor to serve the people of Sauk County. In that time, a lot has changed in our county, but our citizens’ belief in, as well as the need for fair, impartial, and strong members of the judiciary has not. Now, more than ever, we need judges on the bench that will follow the rule of law, keep our community safe, give second chances to those that make mistakes, and stand up for our rights. In my six years on the bench, I have striven to uphold these values for the people of our county, and I will continue to if re-elected to another term.

—Michael Screnock

Judge Michael Screnock

My Judicial Philosophy

Following the Rule of Law

In our Constitutions, it is very clearly laid out that the role of the judiciary is to interpret the law, apply the law equally, and to then fairly determine punishments for those guilty of breaking it. This is the extent to which judges should interact with the law. However, we increasingly see judges using their positions to legislate from the bench and serve as activists for their personal beliefs. I know and am committed to following the law as given by the Legislature, and will never let my own personal beliefs influence my interpretation of the law. Without the rule of law, our country would cease to exist, and it is up to every judge to impartially and fairly apply the law, as written, to the cases before us.

Keeping Our Community Safe

Since I took the bench in 2015, a lot has changed in and around our community. Big cities, including those right here in Wisconsin, have begun experiencing higher amount of gang activity, drug distribution, as well as a distrurbing increase in sexual assult and violent crime. While Sauk County has been able to avoid  much of the mayhem that we’ve seen in urban areas, the reality is that crime is spreading further away from cities and is impacting our community more than ever. 

It is more important than ever that we have judges on the bench who are willing to appropriately punish those who defy our laws and send a message that Sauk County is not a place that will tolerate lawlessness. Gang violence, distribution of dangerous drugs like fentanyl, crimes against an individual like personal or sexual assault, and habitual offenders cannot be tolerated. My record is very clear: I will hold accountable criminals who seek to harm our community. I believe that appropriate and just sentences should continue to be handed down for these crimes and others that have the potential to widely impact and harm the people of Sauk County.

Giving Second Chances

While there are individuals whose crimes require a significant response to protect our community, the vast majority of the crimes committed in Sauk County are different. Our family, friends, neighbors, and every one of us make mistakes: sometimes those mistakes include breaking one of our laws. When the majority of defendants come before my court, it is their first time being accused of breaking the law, they are remorseful and they are resolute to not break the law again: that’s why the majority of defendants are absolutely deserving of a second chance. This is the approach I have taken since being on the bench and is one that I will continue if re-elected. There are a multitude of punishments at our disposal, and it is my belief that a reasonable judge can provide appropriate deterrence from committing additional crimes, without always using incarceration or an incredibly punitive criminal record entry. 

Protecting Our Rights

More and more we see encroachments on our constitutionally protected rights from legislative bodies, elected officials, and members of the judiciary. The rights of all Wisconsinites are enshrined in our state’s and the US Constitution. It is the job of every judge to form the bases of their decisions, first and foremost, from these baseline principles. In my time on the bench, and going forward, these rights are always at the forefront of my mind. We must have members of the judiciary that are willing to stand up for our rights when the implementation of new rules and laws impede on them: after all, it is the judicial branch that is the final protection for all citizens against government overreach by the other branches.