Troy Nielson (Left) Eric Hendrickson (Right) address voters at the open forum in New London Tuesday night
The two candidates hoping to replace Waupaca County Circuit Judge Phillip Kirk spoke at a forum Tuesday night in New London, put on by the Wolf River Area Patriots.
Attorneys Troy Nielson and Eric Hendrickson made their appeal to voters for the upcoming spring election by answering questions from audience members and stating why they believe they would be best suited for the position.
Eric Hendrickson is a graduate from UW-Madison, where he earned his law degree in 1987. In his over 30 years practicing law, he admits that while he focuses on primarily practicing family law these previous ten years, he argues his experience doing so sets him up for judiciary success.
“That’s what a guardian ad litem does,” Hendrickson explained. “They take two sets of facts, two sets of information. They go get a third set of information. My typical case, I talk to mom, talk to dad, meet the kids at their school, talk to counselors, talk to doctors. I’m investigating all these people. I’m putting together impartial decisions that work on behalf of these children so that their lives work. That’s more judicial than advocacy in the courtroom.”
Hendrickson says he continues to learn more about law, and it’s the depth and breadth of his experience that sets him apart as a candidate.
“I’ve covered most of the kinds of law that are out there and all that stuff finds its way into a courtroom,” said Hendrickson. “I think that by being on this planet long enough, I’ve developed a certain amount of what we would call judicial temperament. I have a calm demeanor, I have a steady hand on the tiller, I’m good at listening at two sides, I’m good at weighing two options and trying to come up with the appropriate solutions.”
Attorney Troy Neilson earned his law degree from Hamline Law School in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2008. He’s lived in Waupaca County for about seven and-a-half years, practicing criminal law for the previous nine. While he may not match the years of experience as his opponent, Nielson says the nature of criminal law better prepares him for the challenges of being a judge.
“Literally every single thing that I’ve done as an attorney in my nine plus years, the 3,000 cases I’ve handled, have been in court,” said Neilson. “That’s it. That’s all I’ve done. I’ve been a trial attorney my entire career. I’ve been a zealous advocate, that’s been a great experience. Now I want to be a zealous decision maker for the county.”
It’s Neilson’s background in criminal law that he feels best prepares him to step into a judiciary role and be successful for the county. Neilson says when he’s asked judges how many cases are dealing with criminal law, he’s been informed it can be as high as 50 to 70 percent.
“That means, by far and away, a majority of issues our judges are dealing with on a daily basis, come in the form of criminal law. What that means is on day one, if April 4 goes well for me, I take the bench on Aug. 1, that means literally I’ll be prepared to make the crucial and critical decision to keep this county safe and keep this city safe.”
Both Neilson and Hendrickson agree there will be a learning curve making the transition from lawyer to judge, however, they both feel Waupaca County will be in good hands with whomever the voters decide in April.