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  • WisBar News
    October 09, 2015

    Gov. Walker Appoints Rebecca Bradley to Wisconsin Supreme Court

    Joe Forward

    Oct. 9, 2015 – Gov. Scott Walker today appointed Wisconsin Appeals Court Judge Rebecca Bradley to fill a judicial vacancy on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    Bradley, 44, will serve out the remaining term of Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who passed away Sept. 21, just days after announcing that he would retire when his term ended on July 31, 2016. Bradley will serve out the term before sitting for election in 2016.

    “I am committed to the rule of law, applying the rule of law fairly and impartially, and to upholding the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin,” Bradley said at a news conference announcing the appointment.

    “I am looking forward to working with each of my colleagues on the supreme court to ensure that the people of Wisconsin and the interests of justice are well served.”

    Bradley’s Rise

    Earlier this year, Walker appointed Bradley to fill a vacancy on the District I Wisconsin Court of Appeals. He previously appointed her to a judicial vacancy on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2012. She retained the circuit court seat in a 2013 election.

    Under the Wisconsin Constitution (Art. VII, s. 9), when there’s a judicial vacancy on the supreme court or other courts of record, “the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the governor, which shall continue until a successor is elected and qualified.”

    Walker noted recent precedent for judicial appointments to fill vacancies. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Janine Geske to the supreme court in 1993 and she won election in 1994. He also appointed Diane Sykes in 1999 and she won election in 2000.

    Geske resigned from the court in 1998, and Sykes was appointed in 2004 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where she remains today.

    After Justice Crooks announced his retirement last month, Bradley announced her candidacy to run for the judicial seat in a 2016 election, along with fellow Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Donald. Justice Rebecca Bradley will now run in the 2016 election as an incumbent justice.

    One reporter asked whether this appointment gives Bradley an unfair advantage in the 2016 election. Walker noted his responsibility, under the Wisconsin Constitution, to make appointments when vacancies arise, and said Bradley was the best candidate.

    “I shouldn’t disqualify someone just because they’ve announced their candidacy,” said Gov. Walker. “I wanted to make sure that I put the best person on the bench, regardless of whether they were a candidate or not in the spring of 2016.”

    Bradley was reportedly one of three applicants for the supreme court appointment. Judge James Troupis, appointed by Walker to the Dane County Circuit Court in May, also applied, along with Madison attorney Claude Covelli, of Boardman & Clark LLP.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack attended the news conference, noting that Bradley – not to be confused with Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley – will make a smooth transition because “she understands both the trial process and the appellate process” as a former circuit and appeals court judge.

    About Rebecca Bradley

    Rebecca Bradley is a Milwaukee native. She graduated from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and business economics from Marquette University. Before graduating from U.W. Law School in 1996 with honors, she clerked for Judge John Coffey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

    Bradley worked in private practice for 16 years, first at Hinshaw & Culbertson and then with Whyte Hirschboek Dudek, where she co-chaired the firm’s Technology Law Group.

    She concentrated her practice in commercial, information technology, and intellectual property litigation and transactions, and previously represented physicians in medical malpractice lawsuits, and businesses in product liability and personal injury cases. Bradley is a former chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Business Law Section.

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