The race for circuit court Branch I judge position will come to a close on April 3.
Teresa Basiliere is running against Scott Ceman following Thomas Gritton’s retirement after serving for 18 years.
Teresa Basiliere, senior partner and co-founder of Oshkosh Women Lawyers, has been practicing law for 27 years. She has served 16 years at the Basiliere, Thompson, Bissett, Castonia, Swardenski, LLP attorneys at law, also known as the Oshkosh Women Lawyers, alongside five other successful female lawyers.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Ceman has been practicing for 13 years and has nearly 100 jury trials under his belt, with experience in both criminal and civil law. Ceman is currently the supervising attorney at the District Attorney’s Office and head of the violent crimes unit.
Basiliere said the listening skills she acquired from crisis situations will help her to be a good judge.
“I have really enjoyed doing this for the past 27 years, although recently, I have filed my nomination paperwork to run for circuit court Branch I to sit on the bench,” Basiliere said. “I believe that all the experience and knowledge I have from dealing with people in crisis will serve me well on the bench. A good judge is a good listener.”
Basiliere said that she wants to make a difference in the community
“It’s not as much an issue in this county to have a judge that doesn’t do things right–it’s that I want to be an example of a judge that does something right,” Basiliere said.
Basiliere has practiced in 13 different counties and in front of 40 different judges in Wisconsin.
Basiliere also said that her passion, knowledge and listening skills will help her to be a judge that truly cares about each case that comes before her.
“One of the reasons why I am seeking the bench is because I really do feel that the citizens and voters of Winnebago County deserve to have a judge that will listen and will be passionate about their work,” Basiliere said. “They deserve someone that will be educated, knowledgeable and that truly cares about the community and every case that comes before them.”
Scott Ceman said he saw an issue with the way Branch I was operating and filed his declaration for candidacy.
“I initially started thinking about running for judge about four years ago, and I filed my declaration for candidacy on Dec. 15. That Friday I had a number of goals for running for judge. One of them was the way Branch I was operating,” Ceman said.
Ceman said he felt the need to run for judge when he saw the way Gritton interacted with female attorneys.
“When I first began thinking about this four years ago, it was because of the way Gritton was treating one of the female attorneys in our office and a female defense attorney, and that was what got me initially thinking that I needed to challenge him,” Ceman said.
Ceman also said that he wanted to make a difference for the greater good of Oshkosh when he saw the report that came from USA Today that ranked all the judges in Wisconsin. According to the report, Gritton had one of the lowest ratings in the state.
Judge Gritton declined to comment for this article.
Ceman went on to further explain why he felt an obligation to run for judge.
“There’s a number of reasons why I felt I could do a better job,” Ceman said. “Including the treatment of litigants, defendants, plaintiffs, people in court in general, legal knowledge and abilities and his refusal to marry same sex couples. I had major concerns regarding equal protection and application of the laws to everybody in Winnebago County.”
Ceman said that if he becomes judge, he hopes to implement an alternative plan to prosecution for mental health cases such as post traumatic stress disorder treatment court.
“There’s no real mechanism through Winnebago County to help people who suffer from that [PTSD] and subsequent addiction issues and other things,” Ceman said. “I believe we can provide another mental health treatment option and hopefully a solution here in Winnebago County as an alternative to straight prosecution.”
Ceman began his law career with a firm called Chier Law Offices doing contracts, business, and real estate property matters. He has also done a number of civil cases and civil jury trials.
Ceman said that he has worked to shut down human trafficking in the area as well.
“I also filed the lawsuit that shut down the Naughty Girls Strip Club here in Oshkosh, and that was basically a response to try to find a new way to address human trafficking here in Winnebago County through my experience as prosecutor,” Ceman said.
Ceman said that ultimately, he feels as though he can serve his community as Circuit Court judge effectively given his previous experiences.
“I think my civil experience, my criminal experience, and significant trial experience would qualify me to be a iudge, along with my background. I’m not a silver spoon attorney,” Ceman said. “I was born on a farm and I worked a number of years as an ironworker, and I also served in the Army until later going to college and eventually law school.”