Since leaving the bench at the end of 2018, Judge Sankovitz has presided over dozens of arbitration, special master and umpire proceedings. The proceedings have involved disputes ranging from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars. In addition to proceedings administered by parties themselves and their trade associations, Judge Sankovitz has presided in proceedings administered by the prestigious ICC International Court of Arbitration.
In 22 years on the bench Judge Sankovitz won distinction for his efficient, fair management of courtroom proceedings and for thoughtful written decisions. He presided in almost 300 jury trials and hundreds more evidentiary hearings.
Over 40 years as a lawyer, judge, mediator and arbitrator, Judge Sankovitz has gained considerable experience in a wide variety of disputes.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named him Trial Judge of the Year.
His decisions as a trial judge were reviewed more than 350 times by higher courts in Wisconsin. His decisions were affirmed more than 90% of the time.
His decisions have won praise from the court of appeals. In State v. Lipscomb, 2009 WI App 174, 322 Wis. 2d 573 (unpublished), for example, the court wrote, “We quote the trial court’s decision at length because if ever there were a trial court decision that set forth a thorough, thoughtful, reasoned basis for its ruling, it is this one.”
As another example, in Brenner v. National Casualty Company, 2015 WI App 85, 365 Wis. 2d 476, the court of appeals considered whether a seller of real estate could be held liable for injuries that take place after a new owner takes control of the property. The court wrote, “The circuit court, in a thoughtful and well-articulated decision, ruled as follows . . . We absolutely agree.”
As a lawyer, Judge Sankovitz advocated for clients in state and federal courts around the country at both the trial and appellate levels, litigating on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. His experience as an advocate ran the gamut from arbitration to appeal, including in the United States Supreme Court.
Principles That Guide Judge Sankovitz As An Arbitrator:
A lot of effort...
“Parties put a lot of effort into what they tell the arbitrator. The arbitrator needs to hear what they have to say, and regardless of the result the arbitrator reaches, the arbitrator’s decision needs to show the parties that the arbitrator heard and considered all the points the parties made.”
Thorough preparation is a key...
“Thorough preparation is a key to a sound decision, of course, but it also makes for a cost-effective process. The better prepared the arbitrator, the more efficient use the arbitrator will make of the parties’ time at the hearing itself.”
“Parties to an arbitration do not like surprises. Arbitrators should not decide disputes on factual or legal premises that the parties haven’t been given the opportunity to address.”