MADISON (WKOW) -- 27 News has uncovered Amy Smith, who is scheduled to be sworn in as a Dane County judge next week, was referenced as dishonest by an appeals court judge in 1992.
Court records show in an appeal in a drug case, appellate judge Robert Sundby referred to Smith's conduct in strong language.
"The prosecutor seriously misled the court as to the existence of a 'deal', " Sundby wrote in a dissenting opinion.
Court records show Smith had told a trial court in January 1992 there was no deal struck between prosecutors and a potential trial witness, despite having described a deal between the parties when the man was convicted of a misdemeanor cime in a separate court three weeks earlier.
Smith is deputy secretary of the Wisconsin department of corrections, but was an assistant Dane County district attorney at the time of the judge's published remark.
The defendant in the 1992 case was Christopher Ranaudo. His attorney, Stephen Meyer, pushed for publication of the appellate case and the judge's dissent.
"Nonpublcation of this decision would potentially result in 'burying' for posterity a description of the conduct by the Assistant District Attorney in question."
27 News previously reported Smith was referenced as lying in a separate, 1995 appellate case involving another drug prosecution.
In that case involving an appeal of a fine assessed against Madison attorney Robert Nagel, the appeals court threw out the fine, and chastised Smith over conflicting statements on potential trial witness Freddie Brown.
"The prosecutor falsely denied identifying Brown as a witness less than twenty-four hours earlier."
Smith has yet to return a call from 27 News for comment on her handling of the 1992 drug case. Smith previously declined comment on the 1995 drug case and appellate court remark on her conduct.
UW-Madison law school lecturer Richard Jacobson told 27 News public rebukes over dishonesty can permanently damage an attorney's reputation.
"It's terribly serious," Jacobson said.
But Jacobson said such rebukes must be considered in the context of when the conduct was cited; the attorney's entire professional record; and whether a misunderstanding could have led to a judge's observation.
Jacobson said references to dishonesty in appeals court opinions should lead to more examination of an attorney's work during any consideration of the attorney's fitness for promotion.
Smith was appointed to the Dane County judiciary by Governor Doyle earlier this month. Doyle has yet to respond to requests from 27 News about any knowlege he had of the judge's 1992 comments about Smith when Doyle selected Smith from among 28 applicants to one of three, open county judgeships. Record of the 1995 rebuke against Smith was submitted to Doyle by assistant state public defender John Tradewell, along with a letter of concern over Smith's work.
State records also show Smith's application to become a judge generated a half dozen letters of support.
27 News has asked Doyle for the opportunity to inspect the work product of a special committee which advised him on his Dane County judicial appointments, including Smith.
There is no state record of any public, professional discipline against Smith.
Smith will be required to run for election when the term of the judge she is replacing ends.
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