Lifetime Jurist Award
The Lifetime Jurist Achievement Award recognizes a jurist who was fair and impartial, demonstrated high ideals and personal character, and demonstrated outstanding long-term judicial service during their tenure on the bench.
After wide agreement by his colleagues that he represents the “gold standard of judges,” this year’s award winner is the Hon. Gregory Grau.
Judge Grau spent 21 years on the bench in Branch 4 of the Marathon County Circuit Court. During that tenure, Judge Grau’s colleagues found him to be consistently thoughtful, hardworking, insightful, and fair to all people who appeared in his courtroom. Despite his extremely busy calendar, the judge was also admired for his willingness to mentor other judges and answer their questions. Even in retirement, his nominators note he will always maintain this “go to” status.
One of his most notable accomplishments was the 1997 creation of a Truancy Citation Court Program, a system to provide courts with the authority to intervene in children’s lives and help address issues interfering with their ability to graduate from high school. As the current Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Jill Falstead wrote in her nomination letter, Judge Grau’s work has “directly and positively impacted the lives of countless teens struggling to gain their high school diplomas.” Without his instrumental initiative and involvement, the program “would never have been established.”
Judge Grau credits his interest in trial work to his time as an intern in the Wausau District Attorney’s Office in law school – an experience he recalls as “extremely valuable.” Upon graduating from U.W. Law School in 1984, Judge Grau accepted an Assistant District Attorney position in Marathon County. That work inspired the judge to run for a judicial seat, and he began his first term in 1995. He served as chief judge of the ninth judicial district from 2009-2012, and retired not long after in May 2016.
Judge Grau wants it be known that he dissents from the decision to award him this lifetime honor, as he unequivocally believes “there are judges much more deserving of this than I am.” Yet, it’s difficult to ignore the powerful words of those who nominated him: “There is no judge I respect more, both as a jurist and as a human being, than Judge Grau.”