"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications. WJI also will continue to profile former Gov. Scott Walker's appointees who are still in office.
Name: Brittany Cha'ron Grayson
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Sept. 4, 2019. (Elected to a six-year term in April 2020)
Law School – Marquette University Law School.
Undergraduate – Marquette University
High School – Catholic Memorial High School, Waukesha
Recent legal employment:
2013-present – Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office
2011-2013 – Hudson Legal
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
Grayson responded "N/A," but the Wisconsin State Bar says she was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 2011.
General character of practice before becoming a judge: Currently assigned to the Early Intervention Unit handling diversions and deferred prosecution agreements for the DA's general crimes teams. Prior to that, worked in the Child in Need of Protection and/or Services unit and the domestic violence unit.
Describe typical clients: N/A
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: 10
List up to five significant cases in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
In the interest of T.B. et al – 2015 – I handled the CHIPS case for these three children. The case involved four parents: one mother and three fathers. There were several attorneys involved and endless court hearings over several months. The mother struggled with unmanaged mental health and addiction issues that kept her from safely co-parenting her children with their respective fathers....Litigating this case was particularly difficult because the mother was just not ready to accept services or admit that she needed help....In the end, the children were able to continue living with their respective fathers, with the mother having visits so long as they were safe and appropriate. This case didn't end the way I wanted it to. Of course, I wanted the children to remain in the stable homes their fathers had provided for them, but I also wanted better for the mother. What this case did teach me was that despite our intentions and efforts as legal advocates, we are still charged with the task of meeting people where they are and accepting that we can't always control where they end up when they leave us.
In the interest of C.D. – 2015 – I handled the CHIPS case for this child....Both the mother and father had pretty severe cognitive delays. They weren't intentionally neglectful parents, but they simply could not provide safe and basic care for a young child because of their cognitive limitations. They would forget to feed, bathe, and change C.D.'s diaper, and they couldn't retain information provided to them on how to provide daily care to a child his age. Here were two parents who would happily try to do everything the court asked of them to the best of their abilities, but would likely never be able to be fully responsible for the daily care of C.D., who was just about two years old at the time. When C.D. was placed in foster care, the foster mother developed a great relationship with C.D.'s mother. She picked her up for visits and gave her rides to appointments. Litigating this case had its challenges, but seeing the humanity and compassion shown by C.D.'s foster mother to both G.D. and his parents was a reminder of how well our system can work at times to protect vulnerable children and adults.
State v. T.T. – 2012 – Jury trial. The defendant was charged with violating a harassment injunction. The victim...was incredibly terrified of Mr. T. He would send her text messages throughout the day letting her know he was close by and watching her. She would be outside of her home and see him staring at her from a street or alley nearby. When I spoke with her to prepare her for her trial testimony, I remember her telling me how scared she was just to be in the same room as Mr. T. She was tearful and shaking the entire time we spoke and the entire time she was on the witness stand. That's the level of fear he invoked in her. The jury ultimately acquitted Mr. T and my heart sunk for (the woman). When we spoke at the end of the trial, what I remember is (the woman) telling me that she was thankful that I fought for her. This was the first time anyone ever thanked me for fighting for them. I lost the trial, but I was able to provide (the woman) with the opportunity to feel brave and empowered, even if only temporarily.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies: N/A
Previous runs for political office: N/A
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: N/A
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last 10 years: N/A
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers, 2011-2015; 2017-present; served as treasurer, director, and parliamentarian.
Marquette University Law School, 2014-present; served on Law School Alumni Board, Recent Graduate Reception Committee, Restorative Justice Conference Planning Committee, Diversity Reception Committee, Diversity Recruitment Committee.
State Bar Board of Governors, 2017-present
Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, 2017-present
National Black Prosecutors Association, 2018-present
American Constitution Society, 2019-present
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service: Job as assistant district attorney bars pro bono work.
Involvement in business interests: N/A
Why I want to be a judge – When I decided I wanted to be a lawyer, I didn't necessarily know what my path was going to be or how I was going to forge that path. I am the first lawyer in my family and most of the relatives that came before me didn't make it through college. Coming into law school was an intimidating and overwhelming experience, with classmates already deciding whether they wanted to be litigation or transactional attorneys within the first few days. So many students had their paths outlined, either because they just so happened to be a few steps ahead of me or they had guidance I was not yet sure how to seek out. The only constant in my journey has been my desire to make an actual impact on my community -one that I could see and feel. I vividly remember my interview at the Milwaukee County DA's office. I sat opposite John Chisholm and Kent Lovern while they assured me that few things about my job were going to be glamorous and asked me why I wanted to be a public servant. The answer I gave them that day is the same answer I'll have today and any other day. I feel a responsibility to contribute to and give back to this community.
I know that I am equipped to serve the public. I know that my diverse background brings a much needed perspective to whatever table I sit at. I know that representation of diverse legal professionals at all levels of the system sparks in the minds of children that they can do or be whatever they want in life.
I know that I am equipped for judgeship. I'm compassionate, empathetic, and reasonable. I'm
rational and deliberate. I'm organized and hardworking. I know what it's like to be the person
charging a criminal case and arguing the facts to a jury during trial. But I also know what it's like to sit in the gallery as a relative of the person charged, completely powerless, watching the same unfold. I understand how the decisions made in our legal system particularly impact the black and brown members of our community, the community I'm charged with protecting. I also know that I'm not doing my job as a public servant if I'm not invested in every member of our community, including the person opposite the State.
"Anytime people are able to live their most authentic lives without fear of being judged, demeaned, or discouraged, our democracy thrives." – Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Brittany C. Grayson
Describe which case in the past 25 years by the Wisconsin Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court you believe had the greatest positive or negative impact on the people of Wisconsin or our democracy.
Obergefel v. Hodges – 2015 – The Court talked about how personal the decision of marriage is, how it is an intimate decision that's essential to individual autonomy. I know there were countless same-sex couples across the country whose lives were impacted by this decision. Wisconsin was no exception....
The principles the Court outlined can be directly tied to the benefit of any jurisdiction's democracy. Anytime people are able to live their most authentic lives without fear of being judged, demeaned, or discouraged, our democracy thrives. People want to invest in
communities that they feel are also invested in them. People want to give back to communities that they feel will value and also give back to them.
Our government is supposed to work for the people. In doing so, our government must acknowledge the priorities of its constituents. When our state or our country passes laws that offer protection over the most intimate decisions of our individual selves, whether it be who we choose to marry, what gender we choose to identify, or what we choose to do with our bodies, we bolster the strength of our community and ultimately our democracy. Democracy works when people are not only given a seat at the table, but provided with a platform at that table for their voice to be heard.
Identify two or three judges or justices whom you admire and explain why.
During my time as a law student, I met former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who I still refer to as Professor Geske. I was still quite unsure about my legal path, but had gravitated toward hands-on legal experience. So I signed up for her Mediation Clinic. On Mondays, the class would travel over to Room 400 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse during "Pro se Day." Each student took turns mediating small claims cases that were referred to the clinic by the court. Some weeks there would be a bit of down time and Professor Geske would start talking about her Restorative Justice Clinic. I didn't know that much about restorative justice at the time, but every time she talked about it I was more intrigued. That next semester, I signed up. For months, I watched Professor Geske facilitate healing circles and victim-offender dialogues. I watched her use compassion and recognize the humanity in every person she interacted with to be an effective advocate. I learned from her that sometimes we wield our individual power most effectively when we cede that power for the benefit of the whole.
My first team assignment in the Milwaukee County DA's Office was in the Domestic Violence Unit assigned to Judge Mel Flanagan's courtroom. There was a lot that I admired about her. She was incredibly intelligent and hardworking. She was well-respected and fair. What I admired most about her was her willingness and ability to teach. After I lost my first jury trial, she came down off of the bench and spoke to me and the defense attorney, another young lawyer. She gave both of us tips on what we could have done better – how we could have argued those facts differently or connected more with the jury. This wouldn't be the first time she offered me guidance. She was just as invested in my growth as a legal advocate as she was in ensuring just outcomes in her courtroom.
Describe the proper role of a judge.
The judge's role is to be an impartial, neutral decision-maker and gatekeeper of justice. Judges are also expected to be fair, hardworking, and empathetic. Equally as important as these traits is a judge's demeanor. The way in which a judge carries herself can set the tone for everyone else in the courtroom, from the court reporter to the members of the public siting in the gallery....
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