“To play golf is to spoil an otherwise enjoyable walk,” said Mark Twain.
Conversely, “One can tell a lot about the character of a man by simply playing a round of 18 holes of golf with him.”
Dovetailing, if not eclipsing this quote, one can really tell a lot about the character of a man by working side-by-side with him at a week-long summer camp for over 120 boys in sixth through 12th grades – arguably far more challenging than the stressors of our day-to-day lives, certainly more than 18 holes of golf.
I first met Edmund Jelinski (“EJ”) three years ago at Camp Onaway on the Chain-O-Lakes in Waupaca. EJ was (and continues to be) the camp director, organizing, policing and serving as the integral leader in the growth of not only 120 young men, but also the 70 adult leaders. EJ did this effortlessly, in a remarkably fair manner.
Faced with decisions of equity and fairness, EJ’s moral compass and experience never wavered, always making the right decision, regardless if it was not the popular one. The adult leadership and boys witnessed this, always following EJ’s lead without consciously knowing they were. This is the effect EJ has on his colleagues and those served under his charge – doing the right thing, always being fair, and leading equitable decision-making.
EJ has recently reflected on a number of qualities needed to make an effective judge:
“Judges often need to make equitable decisions that have major effects on the people before them.”
“A judge needs to be thorough, patient, respectful and above all, listen.”
In the years I have known EJ, there is no doubt that he lives these tenants.
Integrity and fairness are the guides toward any decision I have seen him make. Whether working with a young sixth grade boy at camp, or the colleagues he works with on a daily basis, his integrity and fairness stand firm.
These characteristics served. Jelinski well when faced with the unpopular, but right decision to alert the legal community of a [now] well publicized district attorney who dismissing cases for money. This resulted in the firing of EJ, only for him to be vindicated when the DA was indicted and imprisoned two years later.
EJ risked losing his legal career; however, his integrity and conviction led him to the correct action. The ultimate outcome proved an ethical standard higher than job preservation.
I have absolutely nothing to gain by writing this letter and supporting Jelinski. I have never hired Jelinski for legal counsel. I have no financial, political or other benefit to gain. In fact, I don’t even live in the county where Jelinski is running and his election will likely never impact me, my practice or my family.
What I do feel is that I have played a number of hypothetical “rounds of golf” with Jelinski in the sense that I have seen a window into his character. He is fair, just, patient and equitable and serves at the protection of his community.
Steven M. Baughman, MD
Lt. Col, USAFR, MC, FS