12/4/2013 7:30:00 AM Kennedy running for judge in Forest, Florence counties
Crandon attorney Robert A. Kennedy, Jr. is running for Circuit Court Judge for Florence and Forest counties.
Kennedy, 58, is married and has two children and three grandchildren. Since graduating from Crandon High School in 1973, he obtained his bachelor's degree from UW Oshkosh in 1977, and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1980. During the last 33 years, he has been in private practice in Crandon, served one term as district attorney of Florence County and one term as circuit court judge of Florence and Forest counties.
"Returning to private practice the last five years will actually make me a better judge than if I had remained on the bench," Kennedy said in a press release announcing his campaign. "I have now seen the law from all sides. Having represented parties after being a judge, places a person better in touch with what a cross-section of the public needs from the courts."
While most cases generally apply only to the client, on occasion a case comes into the office which can benefit the public as a whole.
Concerning health care, Kennedy sued the health plan available through Chrysler's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The Administrative Record contained 7,303 pages, and the case was in court for three and one-half years. The final opinion was published nationally.
"I encourage everyone to listen to the audio containing my oral arguments given at Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago," Kennedy said.
Oral arguments in number 11-2624 can be accessed at the address below:
Step 1: type in the address below
Step 2: type in case number 11-2624
Step 3: click list cases
Step 4: click oral argument
Some of the issues Kennedy brought forward in writing and at oral argument do apply to the general public. The CBA required ongoing decisions as to how long a person was approved for nursing home coverage. The decisions were either never made or lost. Kennedy argued, failure to comply with what the union agreement required violated federal regulations.
He further argued that when medical services have extended the patient's life, then this health care became medically necessary. When health care plans consider how long a person lives to be irrelevant, that point of view is unreasonable.
"The Chrysler case builds on my 1996 research, on file in Forest County, about a good faith rule of thumb for all concerned," he said. "On April 15, 1994, Dr. Timothy Johnson appeared on ABC's 20/20, Transcript No. 1415 What's A Life Worth?-Health Insurance Injustice. Dr. Johnson summed it up: 'Americans know we have to make decisions, but I think they want them made in open, honest consistent fashion without financial incentive.'"
When those inevitable health care questions come to court in the next six years, Kennedy has the unique experience to understand the challenges facing patients with their health plans.
Another aspect of being a good judge is personal dedication to blazing the trail by being the first court to interpret a new statute.
On April 17, 2012, land-use legislation at 2011 Act 170 took effect. That same day a local resident applied for a zoning variance. That variance was denied.
"Questions of zoning and land use powers apply to property owners generally. I was the first attorney to use 2011 Act 170 to challenge the denial of a variance," Kennedy said. "My complaint filed July 6, 2012, alleged 2011 Act 170 deprived the Board of Adjustment of jurisdiction to require a variance. Effective Oct. 30, 2013, statewide case law would prove my position to be correct. The faster someone takes the lead to help develop the law, the faster the benefits of the correct rule of law are available. Here, the opportunity concerning the land-use application and law taking effect the same day required (me) to promptly and accurately forecast what the correct rule of law would be. Again, this is what the public expects in a good judge."
"This is my third campaign for this office," Kennedy added. "As in the last two campaigns, I will continue to refuse to accept campaign money. Let's get the money out of politics. As in my last two campaigns, I will continue to refuse to accept campaign endorsements. We all want favoritism out of the judiciary. If elected, I will take a common sense approach to reducing tensions by first looking to points the parties agree on. I thank everyone for their interest in the nine listening sessions I set up, and look forward to the upcoming campaign."
Kennedy's campaign website can be found at www.kennedyforcircuitjudge.com.
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