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Phillipson Running for Green County Circuit Court Judge


September 24, 2020

Faun Phillipson

Faun Marie Phillipson, from New Glarus, is running for Green County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 1. She would like to tell you a little bit about herself, her professional experience, and why she thinks she should be the next Circuit Court Judge.

What is your background and education? I grew up in New Glarus and graduated from New Glarus High School in 1992. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I double-majored in English and German. In 1996, I moved to New York City where I went to law school at Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I graduated law school with my Juris Doctorate in 1999, and took and passed the New York State Bar Exam in July 1999. During law school, I worked for the New York State Office of the Attorney General, in the Litigation Bureau.

After graduating from law school, I worked for the American Arbitration Association's International Center for Dispute Resolution. They were hiring attorneys who spoke at least two languages, and I have never been more grateful for my high school German program because without that I wouldn't have had this amazing opportunity. I then went to a mid-sized litigation firm in the city's Financial District, where most of my cases were before the New York State Supreme Court (which has an Individual Assignment System or "IAS" part like you see on "Law & Order"), as well as the NY State Supreme Court's Commercial Division (for more complex cases) or the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers (the NYSE and NASD have since merged their dispute resolution tribunal to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority).

In 2004, my friend and colleague Jon Uretsky and I started our own law firm, Phillipson & Uretsky, LLP. We have offices in New York, New Jersey and New Glarus. I opened our firm's New Glarus office about thirteen years ago, in the summer of 2007.

What was it like, starting your own firm? It's been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Our names are on the door and our names are on the letterhead. There's a sense of accomplishment – as well as a sense of great responsibility. You're no longer working for a paycheck or a promotion. You give 100% to everything you do because, at the end of the day, you are 100% responsible. I think anyone who owns a business knows what I mean.

In the beginning, when we didn't have many clients, we would take on all kinds of cases: criminal cases, copyright infringement, professional liability, employment, writing contracts, you name it. It was a total learning experience. In New York City, the Family Court, Civil Court, Criminal Court and Small Claims Court all have different judges in different courtrooms in different courthouses. My experience with a variety of different cases and courthouses beginning early in my career is invaluable because here, in Green County, the Circuit Court Judge hears all types of cases. All cases will either come before Branch 1 (currently presided over by Judge Beer) or Branch 2 (Judge Vale).

Do you have what it takes to be a judge? Absolutely. I have the experience and intelligence. I have the work ethic. I have the courage. I have the impartiality and I have the professional responsibility. My first jury trial was in Atlanta (Fulton County, Georgia). All I knew about the Fulton County Courthouse was from the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. I think Larry Flynt had been shot standing outside the courthouse. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.

We couldn't speak to the jurors, obviously, unless it was part of the actual trial, but once the case was over one of the jurors held a door for me and I said "thank you." She said, "No ma'am. Thank you. That was cool." It was cool – watching a juror who had been so hesitant to give up several days of work to sit, day after grueling day, through a jury trial; yet, by the end, that juror had become so invested and so interested and, I think, proud to be a deciding part of the process. The law is the law; a courtroom is a courtroom. Most importantly, people are people, no matter where they live in this great country.

Along with Attorney Dan Gartzke and teacher-coach Lexa Speth, I also coach the New Glarus High School Mock Trial Program, sponsored by The State Bar of Wisconsin and which my great-uncle Rodney O. Kittelsen was instrumental in starting. For many years, I've watched these high school students start the season getting an overwhelming binder full of case materials: a Complaint, Affidavits of parties and witnesses, rules of evidence and civil procedure, and exhibits to introduce at trial. The kids spend months preparing – either as witnesses or as attorneys for the Plaintiff (or prosecution if it happens to be a criminal case that year) or Defendant. It's amazing to watch the magic that arises from their non-stop energy, their fascination with the law and hundreds of hours of hard work and effort when the season culminates in a day of trials at the Dane County Courthouse for the State Regional Competition. Sharing that love for the law and the spark of energy those students give back is beyond comparison.

A lot of courts are doing hearings by Skype, Zoom or telephone right now. A few weeks ago, I had a federal court hearing and afterward our law student intern said, "Wow, I didn't know a judge could yell like that." My partner said, "Oh, I've heard lots of judges yell. Usually, they're yelling at Faun, though." He was joking, but there was a kernel of truth: I've been on the winning side, I've been on the losing side. I know how much the parties have at stake, and I have the utmost respect for our legal system.

Lately, I've heard a lot of people say how tired they are of politics. One great aspect of the Judicial Branch is that politics should not come into play. Wisconsin Circuit Court judges are elected in non-partisan primaries: you vote for the most qualified candidate. It would be my great honor and privilege to serve you as Green County Circuit Court Judge. I ask for your support, and for your vote on February 16th.


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