Vince Megna eyes Justice Pat Roggensack’s seat
Milwaukee lemon law and consumer attorney Vince Megna talks about his candidacy for the state Supreme Court and his decision to openly identify as a Democrat.
Frederica Freyberg: But first state Supreme Court justice Pat Roggensack's ten-year term is up next year. She's running for re-election. Opponents are lining up to challenge her. Tonight we introduce you to one of them. Milwaukee-based Lemon Law and consumer attorney, Vince Megna. Mr. Magna, thanks very much for being here. Vince Megna: Well, thank you. Frederica Freyberg: First, why are you running for the state Supreme Court? Vince Megna: Well, for 23 years in Wisconsin I have represented people, usually the average guy from Superior to Kenosha. And I've represented waitresses and truck drivers and farmers, brain surgeons, even lawyers. And the guy who spent $760 on a television that turned out to be defective and couldn't get Best Buy or some other dealer to buy it back. I represented people on Social Security who get swindled at a car dealer for buying a $4,000 defective car. And I want to bring a person’s perspective to the Supreme Court, people’s perspective. That’s my perspective. That’s the perspective I’m going to bring. Frederica Freyberg: And do you feel as though the court does not now have that perspective? Vince Megna: I absolutely do feel that there's no one on the court who has dealt with people has much as I have. Frederica Freyberg: Now, you believe calling the state's high court seats, or the race itself, non-partisan, is in your words “a flagrant lie.” Why? Vince Megna: Well, we all know that it is a partisan race. And to say that it isn't, is a lie. It's misleading uninformed voters into thinking that it is non-partisan. I gathered up, let's say 250 signatures myself personally, in the nomination process. Virtually-- I've answered the question, “what are you?” probably 200 to 300 times. They want to know before that person signs, “What are you?” Are you a Liberal, are you a Conservative, are you a Democrat? How do you stand on gay marriage? How do you stand on any number of issues? The typical answer from a judge or a justice is, this is a non-partisan race. I'm a judge. I have no opinion. I have no opinion on anything. I only have an opinion when something is presented to me in the form of a case. I answer those questions. Frederica Freyberg: Let's hear the answer. What are you? Vince Megna: I'm a Democrat. Frederica Freyberg: And can a justice who declares that partisanship be impartial on the court? Vince Megna: Absolutely, because whether they declare what they are, they still are. To hide what you are is just a falsehood. It's a deception to the people. For Justice Roggensack, for example, not to say that she's a Republican when asked, that's misleading. I believe you are what you are. I am not running as a Democrat, but I am a Democrat. And I would venture that most of the justices on the Supreme Court do have beliefs, do have etiologies that fall in certain political schemes. Frederica Freyberg: And so how does that make up affect how the court is ruling now? Vince Megna: Well, it's-- the court is a Republican court. It's four-three in favor of the Conservatives. Justices on our court have been put on the court by the Koch brothers and other outside billionaires in races for Supreme Court to seek a job that pays $150,000 a year. $6 million was spent on the Justice Butler race, on the Justice Ziegler race. I mean, it's-- it's-- it's beyond anything rational to me why so much money is spent to secure a position on the Supreme Court. Frederica Freyberg: Where do you expect to get your campaign money from? Vince Megna: I expect to get it from the people of Wisconsin, because that's who I'm running for. I'm not running for myself. I am an attorney who has been very successful in the areas of consumer protection. I expect to get the money from people who donate it because that's why I'm going to be on the court, as a voice for the people of Wisconsin. Frederica Freyberg: On the matter of Act 10 that the court did rule on, how would you have ruled? Vince Megna: I don't know enough about it to tell you how I would rule. It was an extremely complicated issue. I am in favor of unions. My dad was a union member his life. I've been a member of two unions. I'm in favor of unions. I think they provide the backbone to this country. Frederica Freyberg: Given your openness about partisanship and some of your positions, can you say how you would rule on other matters that might come before the high court? Vince Megna: Well, I can't say how I would rule on other matters because a case is extremely complex. There's laws that you're dealing with. There's, you know, thousands of pages of briefs. There's arguments. So I can't say how I would rule on a case. I can say that I am opposed to stopping people from voting. I am opposed to voter suppression. I am in favor of gay rights. I'm in favor of civil rights. And going into any issue, I think that judges are in favor of things one way or another. I'm just telling you how I am in favor of these things. Frederica Freyberg: And given the split on the court and what has been regarded as a dysfunctional court, how would you being on it and being so outspoken help make it less dysfunctional? Vince Megna: Well, I'll tell you, I'm not going to strangle a justice on the court. I am not going to call my chief justice a bitch. And when a strangulation occurs on the court and there are five justices who witness it, I-- I would tell you what I saw. Five justices have witnessed a strangulation that was alleged to be a defensive move, and we can't come up with a story of what happened, and yet these are the same justices who rule on criminal cases when eye witness testimony may have convicted someone, and they can't tell us what happened in a strangulation incident on our own Supreme Court. Frederica Freyberg: Vince Megna, we need to leave it there. Thanks very much. Vince Megna: Thank you very much.