"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Cynthia M. Davis, appointed by Walker in February, will not face an opponent in the April 4 election. She is the only one who filed nomination papers for her seat.
Name: Cynthia M. Davis
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Feb. 18, 2016
Law School – Marquette University Law School
Undergrad – DePauw University
High School - Brookfield Academy
2011 - present – assistant district attorney, Milwaukee County
January 2016 - present - Marquette University Law School, adjunct associate professor
Wisconsin State Bar
United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Served as assistant district attorney in drug unit, domestic violence unit, the child protection and advocacy unity of the sensitive crimes unit. At Foley & Lardner, worked in Business Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice group and Commercial Transactions and Business Counseling practice group.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: 27 jury trials, prosecuted about 417 cases total.
Number of cases on appeal: None.
Professional or civic organizations, volunteer activities, service in a church or synagogue, or any other activities or hobbies that could be relevant or helpful to consideration of the application:
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization:
I served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Forum, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing a forum for business leaders, educators and students to interact with, and learn from, the leading economic and business scholars of our age.
Pro bono legal work:
Due to my current position as an Assistant District Attorney, I am unable to perform pro bono legal work. Prior to serving … I engaged in a considerable amount of pro bono work while an associate at Foley & Lardner. Notably, I earned the distinction of being named to the 2010 State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Roll.
Describe any business or profession other than the practice of law:
I am a part-time yoga instructor.
All judicial or non-partisan candidates that you have publically endorsed in the last six years: David Prosser and Rebecca Bradley
Why I want to be a judge – First, I want to become a judge to uphold and protect both the United States and the Wisconsin Constitutions. Ever since I was a young child, my family, especially my paternal grandparents, instilled in me an appreciation for the ideals and values on which this country was founded, namely freedom and personal responsibility. To continue to enjoy this precious freedom, a stable and reliable judiciary is necessary to uphold the rule of law. ... Secondly, I want to become a judge because I truly love being a scholar of the law. … Finally, I want to help people.
Judicial philosophy - A well-ordered society, predicated on freedom and personal responsibility, requires a judicial system in which judges consistently apply the law according to its intent and without distorting the law to comport to their beliefs or senses of justice....
In situations where the law does allow or require the use of discretion, a judge should always seek the truth while carefully balancing the interests of justice and mercy. The most important attributes of a judge are his or her dedication to thoroughly researching and understanding the law, his or her willingness to listen and his or her ability to confidently render a decision without fear of criticism or of being overturned on appeal.
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years – United States v. Lopez (1995) (The US Supreme Court struck down a law making it a federal offense for having a gun in a school zone.)
This case is the best United State Supreme Court decision in the last thirty years because it was the first case since the New Deal era to effectively recognize a limit on the scope of Congress’ power to regulate under the Commerce Clause, thus signifying a restoration of certain rights to the States and the people, where they rightly belong. Although the Supreme Court has not always followed in the same direction since Lopez, Lopez at least marked a break to the on-going rubber-stamping of federal laws regulating local activity and provided a meaning check on Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause.
"A well-ordered society, predicated on freedom and personal responsibility, requires a judicial system in which judges consistently apply the law according to its intent and without distorting the law to comport to their beliefs or senses of justice." -- Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Cynthia M. Davis
Worst United State or Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years – Lee v. Weisman (1992) (The US Supreme Court held that a public school may not sponor clerics to conduct prayers.)
In this case, the Court upheld an unconstitutional a public middle school’s sponsoring of a rabbi to give a short invocation following the Pledge of Allegiance at a graduation ceremony. …
This case is the worst U.S. Supreme Court decision in the last thirty years because the Court fails to strike the proper balance between the Establishment Clause and the Free exercise Clause contain within the First Amendment…The Court completely eviscerates the Free Exercise Clause…then goes on to completely proscribe religious expression in an effort to protect those who somehow may been offended or isolated by a short prayer and thus compelled to participate by standing or observing silence. Such result is quite contrary to the drafters’ intent. If the Court had properly acknowledged the intent of the Establishment Clause, as noted in the dissent as proscribing “coercion of religious orthodoxy and of financial support by force of law and threat of penalty” … the Court would have struck the property balance between the Establishment Clause and the Free exercise Clause and thus avoided such an affront to a “characteristically American” practice of recognizing and giving gratitude to Divine Providence.”
Excerpts from State Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser's recommendation letter to Walker (Davis clerked for Prosser during the 2006-07 court term):
Cindy Davis is a very competitive person who has done outstanding intellectual work at the highest level as well as a lot of necessary grunt work in the trenches. Judge Mary Kuhnmuench is one of her biggest supporters, which will help immensely come election time.
In sum, I think Cynthia Davis is a safe but utterly compelling judicial candidate who will benefit tremendously by being on the bench for a year before facing the voters. She will benefit from experience on the bench because she will impress people with the quality of her performance, just as she completely validated her selection as my law clerk.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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