Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky labeled allegations that a sitting judge seeking a seat on Wisconsin’s highest court has been accused by two people of using the “N-word” an “enormous distraction,” even though one says Janet Protasiewicz used the racial slur to refer to black parents involved in Children’s Court.
We asked Karofsky whether she was “concerned by the allegations… that Janet Protasiewicz used racial slurs to refer to black parents.” Protasiewicz has refused to deny these allegations to us despite being given ample opportunity to do so.
Any complaint would likely come back before the state Supreme Court, on which Karofsky sits. Yet, without talking to either eyewitness, Karofsky prejudged their claims, saying:
“That is 100% made up. That is a complete distraction. Dan Kelly and his campaign and, frankly, some very, very small media outlets I think are trying to make this an issue in this campaign. No one’s buying it,” Karofsky claimed, even though she has never spoken to the two men, Jon Ehr and Michael Madden, who say they heard Protasiewicz use the racial slur on different occasions. (Wisconsin Right Now, which broke the story of the allegations, has had more than 10 million story reads since August 2020, but that’s a side note).
We asked Karofsky how she could know the accusations are made up since she has never even talked to the two men who say they heard Protasiewicz use the racial slur (Jon Ehr and Michael Madden), and she said it was “harassing” for a journalist to ask the question.
Protasiewicz was a 34-year-old district attorney in 1997 when the men say they heard Protasiewicz use the racial slur.
“So you’re not concerned at all that two named sources said that she used the ‘n word’ to refer to black parents?” we asked Karofsky.
“What I would be concerned about if I were Dan Kelly or one of his allies is trying to win this election, and I think what they are doing is use this as an enormous distraction,” she said.
Asked, “Yes or no, does that not concern you when two named people make allegations about racial slurs?” Karofsky responded that the accusation “has no factual basis.”
One of the two men is considering suing Karofsky over the remarks.
“Having been informed by another reporter that Janet Protasiewicz is threatening to sue me, I am contemplating suing her and Justice Jill Karofsky, as well as exploring all of my legal options,” Madden said in response to Karofsky’s claims and also claims by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice that Protasiewicz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board this week that she is considering suing over the accusations that she used racial slurs, as well as accusations that she physically abused her elderly husband, Judge Patrick Madden in 1997. Michael Madden is Judge Madden’s son. Jon Ehr, the other alleged eyewitness, is not related to the Maddens.
We said to Karofsky: “There’s two named people who are saying they heard it firsthand. How do you know they’re not telling the truth?”
Karofsky responded, “The whole basis of your question is just to harass people and just to distract.”
We asked, “So it’s harassing people to ask you why you think two people are lying?” But she ended the interview.
We asked, “What about the elder abuse allegation? Does that concern you?” but Karofsky walked away without responding.
We approached Karofsky as she was standing in line with Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet to shill for Protasiewicz to members of the news media after Protasiewicz’s debate with former Justice Dan Kelly.