"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.
Italics indicates direct quotes from the application.
WJI note: Much of White's description of Roper v. Simmons below is almost identical to a description published on the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth website. White acknowledged in an interview Sunday that she erred in not citing the campaign as a source.
Her failure to do so "should not have happened," she said.
White said she was rushing to finish and submit her application very shortly before the deadline on Nov. 13, 2019. In her hurry, she said, she failed to credit the campaign.
"I should have," she said.
"I did a lot of cutting and pasting," White said. She often uses other sources when they are reflect her beliefs, she said.
"My reputation is citing," she said. "As a Court of Appeals judge, I can't say a word without a source."
Name: Maxine Aldridge White
Appointed to: Court of Appeals, District I
Appointment date: January 2020 (Elected in April 2021.)
Law School – Marquette University Law School
Master's Degree – University of Southern California (Public Administration)
Undergraduate – Alcorn State University, Lorman, MS
High School – Gentry High School, Indianola, MS
Recent legal employment:
August 2015-present – Chief judge, First Judicial District
August 1992-present – Milwaukee County circuit judge
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
Wisconsin State Bar
United States Supreme Court
General character of practice before becoming a judge:
May 1985-August 1992: assistant United States attorney - Eastern District of Wisconsin;
appointed immediately upon graduation from Marquette Law School, becoming
the first African American woman to serve in that position and only the second one
appointed upon graduation from law school.
Represented all federal agencies before the federal courts (except IRS in non-bankruptcy
civil matters); practice areas included bankruptcy, affirmative civil litigation, and defense of the
federal agencies and interests before federal magistrate, bankruptcy, federal district courts
and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
August 1991 to August 1992: Legal advisor and instructor - Federal Law Enforcement
Describe typical clients:
Experienced trial lawyer practicing before the federal courts as well as leading investigations conducted by federal agents – (DEA, IRS, FBI, Secret Service, federal agency Inspector Generals and Postal Inspectors); responsible for motion practice, trials – court and jury – and appellate arguments in a variety of civil, criminal and bankruptcy cases....
Lead Attorney for the Bankruptcy Unit and attorneys and Project Leader for "Project Triggerlock" a multi-jurisdictional taskforce of federal, state and law enforcement officers and agents.
Number of cases tried to verdict: More than 300
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
David Rasmussen et al, v. General Motors Corp. et al
Matter in court for motion hearing (attorneys' fees, expenses, and incentive awards)
Rexnord Industires, (sic) LLC, v. Jamaica Bearings Co, Inc.
Matter in court on motion hearing (jurisdiction and motion to stay)
(White did not describe the cases further, but attached decisions in two cases to the application as writing samples. She also wrote a handwritten note on the application: See writing samples as examples of 2 significant legal matters with unique issues resolved during the time I presided and decided these 2 cases – each presenting untested areas in the case law in our district).
Chief Judge significant projects:
MacArthur Foundation Grant
Improvement of Services for juvenile offenders and juvenile justice reform
Arnold Foundation Pretrial Risk Assessment and Bail reform in Milwaukee County
Chief Judges' Subcommittee on Jail for Non Payment of fines, fees and forfeitures
Presiding Judge significant projects:
Milwaukee Safe Haven for families experiencing domestic violence
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies: Reviewing Court for administrative agency decision
Previous runs for political office: Elected to Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 1
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: Only as a candidate
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last ten years:
Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 2016
Judge Lisa Neubauer, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Distinct II, 2019
Judge M. Joseph Donald, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 2015
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 2008-2009
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Milwaukee Bar, board member, 2007 to 2015
National Association of Women Judges, district director, 2004
Links Incorporated, Milwaukee chapter president, 1993-present
Wisconsin State Bar, conference presenter
Marquette University, board and diversity committee
Heritage Chorale of Milwaukee, board member
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service:
Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers, president, Board member and mentor
House of Peace, Inc., president, Advisory Board for 15 years
Milwaukee Chapter of Links Inc., chapter president
Assisted in designing and leading member coalition to Jamaica to deliver
National Association of Women Judges, district director
- Designed and led historic effort installing portrait of women judges in Wisconsin courthouses
- The Color of Justice
Involvement in business interests:
Why I want to be a judge – Growing up in the Deep South, I lived through times when injustice such as racial segregation was actually empowered by the law. Over time, I witnessed first-hand that the law could be guided by courageous people who challenged the law to become better. It became clear that the law, enabled by lawyers and judges entrusted with its care, has the ability to transform itself, and thereby have a transformative effect on the people that come before the court, and society at large. The law, in spite of a history of empowering so much injustice, could become the means by which lives could change. The law could become the means by which people, rich and poor, regardless of status, in controversies large and small, could at least have their voices heard, and find at least some small measure of justice. To be an arbiter of some portion of this process has been and continues to be, an honor I humbly accepted. More than that, it is a continuing obligation to which I have devoted much of my life. Through the law, we who serve the people as judges have the ability and the solemn obligation to help, to give voice, to smooth the rough road, and to resolve differences in a just manner.
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.
Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 554 (2005) a case significantly and positively impacting people in our nation and in Wisconsin
In the landmark decision in Roper v. Simmons, issued on March 1, 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty for a crime committed by a child under the age of 18. The Court ruled that a death sentence imposed on a minor violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Although Wisconsin does not have the death penalty, this case is important to juvenile justice nationally because in it our highest Court recognized the reduced culpability and great potential for children to change and directed courts to take into account how children are different and how those differences counsel against eliminating the possibility that they can change, even in cases where they have caused great harm.
Justice Kennedy writing for the majority stated, “When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.” The Court cited adolescent development research finding that children’s brains – not just their bodies – are not fully developed, and as a result, they do not have adult levels of judgment or ability to assess risks and the consequences of their actions. The Court noted that children are more susceptible to peer pressure than adults and have little power to escape harmful environments. Because of where they are developmentally, children also have greater potential for rehabilitation. The Court concluded that children are categorically less culpable than adults.
Justice Kennedy wrote, “From a moral standpoint, it would be misguided to equate the
failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s
character deficiencies will be reformed.” In addition, the Court discussed the infrequency with which states were imposing the death penalty on children and looked at the practices in other countries and that the United States stood alone in allowing the execution of children (Id. at 532-533.)The Court also noted that the imposition of the death penalty on a child violated international human rights laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Over the past 20 years, researchers and neuroscientists have made remarkable discoveries that have enhanced our understanding of adolescent brain development. This is important to us in Wisconsin as we explore best practices for rebuilding our juvenile justice system. These new insights are being applied to the delivery of effective youth justice services, replacing the false narrative that criminalized and vilified youth. The emotional effects of childhood trauma are also well known. The good news is that the young brain is malleable, or plastic and we can teach them how to navigate in the world effectively and lawfully.
Two justices whom I admire and why
United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall
Judge Marshall was nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States by President Johnson and was confirmed after a heated debate by a Senate vote of 69–11, becoming the Court's 96th justice and its first African-American justice. Informed by his life’s work, he fully understood and appreciated the need for identifying critical issues before the Court, appreciating legal precedent, the Constitution, laws and policies and using those to advance social priorities and social policies. He was masterful and strategic, possessing a sharp legal mind and the faith and courage to fight for the soul of America. He successfully gained enough support of his colleagues to end legal segregation through the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education. I admired him long before he joined the bench. His work directly touched my life in a big way when as legal counsel for the NAACP, he and his team developed an approach that guided the litigation that destroyed the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow segregation.
Justice Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993.There are many of us who try to emulate Justice Ginsburg’s approach to life by heeding her words: “Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Her work has helped me personally and tremendously as a woman and African American. She has set the bar high as a public servant and as a result has illuminated a better view of our justice system, particularly our judiciary. She has been at the forefront of using the law ethically to plead the cause of equality and human rights as basic tenets of our democracy. She has helped shape the law and highlighted the wrong in legal discrimination against those with disabilities, against women and men. Her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder – a 2013 decision in which the Court decided 5-4 to strike down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act stopping states with a history of discriminating against African Americans at the polls from altering their voting rules unless they got approval from the federal government. Writing for the majority Justice Roberts argued that this approval process known as “preclearance” was no longer necessary because Voting Rights violations had diminished. Justice Ginsburg’s response will go down in judicial history, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked…to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet....”
The Proper Role of a Judge:
Among the qualities attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall during his confirmation, as reported by the National Constitution Center, a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee commented that Marshall brought to the court "a balanced approach to controversial and complicated national problems." As set forth in his Federalist Papers, according to Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding architects of American government, the judiciary exercises "neither FORCE nor WILL but merely judgment." A balanced approach, informed by sound judgement (sic), is an essential hallmark of the judiciary. In any controversy that comes before the court, the proper role of a judge is to apply the law to the facts, utilizing that balanced approach and sound judgement (sic). This requires a reliance on intellect rather than ideology, based on constitutional principles rather than personal bias, to help ensure that the courts deliver equal and impartial justice. It is within that constitutional framework, and embodying those values, that the Wisconsin Supreme Court sets forth rules defining the role of a judge in a "Code of Judicial Conduct," which includes: “The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law." The Code goes on to conclude that "an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us.”
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