Big Firm Experience. Small Town Care.

Why McCarthy Law Office? When you need a lawyer, you need the best. For 25 years Scott McCarthy has helped people with family issues, litigate contract disputes, recover losses from injury and wrongful death and manage their mistakes. He is an experienced attorney who knows the system.  He has the passion, breadth of experience and knowledge, that gives his clients their best possible results. Scott has a reputation for sharp, honest evaluations, calling people back promptly, being on time to meetings and court appearances, meticulous preparation for trial and his desire to see their case through so his client's lives can continue on their best possible course forward.

We Promise
It Couldn't Happen Here - Or Could it?

If you think Al Gore has it bad, listen to this story about poor Gerald Shroble. Jerry ran for Walworth County Supervisor in 1992 against Norman Prusener. I do not know Jerry or Norm, nor do I know their party affiliation. At any rate, after the votes were counted, it was determined that Norm won by twenty-four votes. Approximately sixteen days later, Jerry was contacted by election officials and told that due to a mistake in tabulating, he had actually won by nineteen votes.

Jerry proceeded to file a petition in Circuit Court. He did not think it was fair that he actually won the vote total, but was being told that he lost the election. There is a Wisconsin Statute that requires any recount request to occur within three days of certification of the election results. Notwithstanding the recount statute, Jerry requested a new tabulation. He also asserted that the three-day time limit was unconstitutional and violated his due process and equal protection rights. Finally, he requested relief in "quo warranto." "Quo warranto" was a common law procedure requiring an election official to prove that he essentially did not steal the office.

The trial court turned immediately to the recount statute with the three-day time limit. The trial court cited the statute which specifically stated it was the "exclusive remedy" for testing the right to hold elective office as a result of an alleged irregularity, defect or mistake committed during the voting or canvassing process. Because Jerry did not request the recount within the three-day time limit, the trial court dismissed Jerry's petition.

Jerry appealed to the Appellate Court. The Appellate Court sided with Jerry. The Appellate Court said that an action in "quo warranto" was an appropriate method to challenge the results of an election notwithstanding the exclusive remedy language in the recount statute.

Norm took the matter to the Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court, Jerry argued that the three-day time limit was "directory" rather than "mandatory." In other words, there was some wiggle room. Jerry also argued that the three-day time limit commenced upon learning of the mistake, not upon certification. Obviously, if a person was unaware of a mistake, they would not file a petition for recount. The Supreme Court disagreed citing the exclusive remedy language in the recount statute.

Jerry then argued that if the recount statute was the only remedy it violated his due process and equal protection rights. Essentially, Jerry was contending that the three-day time limit was arbitrary and unfairly discriminated against those who were unaware of a mistake. The Supreme Court disagreed stating "the need for finality in elections and continuity of government is not arbitrary, but is a rational basis for the Legislature to set such a time limit."

Jerry then contended that the recount statute violated the voters right to have the winning candidate hold office. The Supreme Court noted the importance of a citizen's right to vote, but also said that right is subject to reasonable regulation by the Legislature. Ultimately the Court said, "The need for finality in the election process requires that the time and method of challenging election results be limited and at some point come to an end.

Because this story is so close to home, some of you may know Norm or Jerry. Please recognize this is a seven synopsis of a two year process that went through three courts including the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Therefore, every detail cannot be listed. However, the gist of the case is the same --- call me late to dinner, but don't call me late to count your votes.