By James Wigderson for Media Trackers
After a fundraiser in San Francisco last week for her state Supreme Court race, Judge Rebecca Dallet’s statement that their values are our values was never clarified by the campaign. However, the host of the fundraiser, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and the San Francisco judge who introduced Dallet, Susan Breall, might fill in the blank.
Wiener was the author of the bill in California that decriminalized knowingly exposing someone to HIV, the AIDS virus, without their knowledge.
“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”
The law, signed by California Governor Jerry Brown (D) without public comment, reduced the penalty for knowingly exposing a person to the AIDS virus from a felony to a misdemeanor.
The change was strongly opposed by Republican lawmakers, according to the Los Angeles Times, including state Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine).
“I’m of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any kind of normalcy, it should be a felony,” Anderson said during the floor debate. “It’s absolutely crazy to me that we should go light on this.”
Meanwhile, Breall, who described Dallet as “a sister judge,” made headlines in California as a prosecutor when she declined to prosecute a 30-year-old Iraqi man for having sex with a 11-year-old, saying, “Why are the cultural practices of this Iraqi community being so heavily criminalized?”
The Iraqi man and the young girl, who was 12 when the sexual relationship was discovered by police, were informally married in an arranged marriage with the girl’s family. Breall described the sexual relationship as, “a voluntary, consensual, sexual relationship.”
Dallet’s campaign did not respond to inquiries on Sunday about whether she knew about Wiener’s bill or if these were the values San Francisco and Wisconsin once had in common that she shared. Nor did Dallet’s campaign respond to inquiries about Breall’s decision not to save the 12-year-old from her 30-year-old “husband.”
At the fundraiser hosted by Wiener where the Supreme Court candidate was introduced by Breall, Dallet had explained that Wisconsin lost its California values, something she hoped to restore.
“It’s San Francisco. Like this is awesome, the people,” Dallet said. “I know that your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way, and I appreciate that you’re all here.”
Dallet later clarified her remarks at the fundraiser, saying both Wisconsin and San Francisco had similar politically progressive values.
“So we made a choice to move to Wisconsin because it had the progressive values, a lot of things you have here in your city still which we kind of lost,” Dallet said.
Dallet’s opponent in the race for Supreme Court is Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock. Screnock’s campaign attacked the California fundraiser and Dallet’s remarks.
“While Judge Screnock has focused his campaign on his judicial philosophy, his experience, and the proper role of the court, Judge Dallet has unfortunately tried everything in her power to nationalize her campaign and make this election about extreme liberal interests,” Screnock’s campaign said in a statement last Tuesday.
In 2015, California had over 128,000 known cases of HIV infection, or 330.1 per 100,000 population, according to the California Department of Public Health. The figure includes 4,948 new cases discovered in 2015. Of those infected with HIV, there were 1,642 deaths.
Wisconsin had 6,923 cases of people living with the HIV infection in 2016, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, including 221 new cases and 220 cases first diagnosed elsewhere who moved to the state. In 2015 there were 84 deaths among those living with HIV.
Wisconsin does not have a specific statute about knowingly exposing someone to HIV without their knowledge, but such cases are most commonly prosecuted using the charge of “reckless endangerment,” according to Christopher Krimmer in Wisconsin Lawyer. For example, in 2012, a 36-year-old in Rothschild with HIV pled guilty to two charges of 2nd-degree reckless endangerment for having sex with two minors without disclosing he had the virus. He was given 15 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision after his release.
The Dallet campaign did not respond to Media Tracker’s request for comment.