"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. While typos and grammar goofs happen to everyone, Tolan's application had a particular large number of them. We noted some of them.
Name: Daniel J. Tolan
Appointed to: Polk County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Jan. 3, 2017 (Elected April 4, 2017)
Law School – Hamline University
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
High School – Luck Public High School, Luck, Wisconsin
2009 - present – Polk County District Attorney
1997 - 2016 – Self as private attorney
2014 - 2016 – Luck village prosecutor
Wisconsin Over 10 years ago was notified I was 1 epr credit short and rectified the situation within 1 week.
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: More than 18 years experience in criminal and civil law. I have tried to represent my clients by applying the law to our facts and negotating (sic) a fair and reasonable resolution. I have tried the cases that we could not achieve a fair and reasonable resolution (sic).
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, about 22; non-jury, estimated 100+.
Cases on appeal:
State of Wisconsin v. Albert Linder – I did the Jury Trial on this case as a Special Prosecutor. It was a Second Degree Sexual Assault of a Child. It is signficant to me because I was able to get justice for the victim in terms of a conviction and the resulting sentence was life in prison due to the persistent repeater enhancer. I was able to take a pedofile (sic) off the streets and protect the victim and public from him for life.
State of Wisconsin v. Eugene Ferguson – I was involved in this Arson case from it's (sic) inception. I tried this case as a Jury Trial for 4 and a half days. It ended in guilty verdicts on 2 counts of Arson, and 1 Count of Burglary. This case is significant to me because I was able to achieve convictions after a hard fought fight and was able to give the victim some piece (sic) of mind that she did not have to be afraid of him while he is incarcerated.
County of Washburn v. Eric D. Smith – I reasearched (sic) and wrote the Appeal brief and the Supreme Court brief. I also did the oral argument in Madison, Wisconsin before the Supreme Court. This case is signficant (sic) to me because the court applied the law of Implied Consent to the facts of our case. The defense was attempting to expand the law by using footnotes in a different Supreme Court case to create new law which would penalize law enforcement if they attempt to provide additional information in answering any questions regarding Implied Consent.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns in the last six years: None
Election history: None
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns: 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: I do not belong to an (sic) organizations, but have volunteered for Luck Commercial Club during Lucky Days and have also volunteered for the Luck Gandy Dancer Marathon.
Describe any pro bono legal work in the last five years: NA
Why I want to be a judge – I want to be Judge in my hometown county because I feel that the public has lost faith in the local justice system. I hear local citizens comment about not being treated fairly in the courts. I hear local citizens comment about the system doing nothing about the drug problem. I hear citizens and lawyers comment about the timeliness of their court hearings. I believe that there is a better way to move the cases along in the process in a more timely manner. ... I became a prosecutor because I wanted to play a role in what was happening my community. Over time, I have realized that I want to become a judge for the people of Polk County, Wisconsin because I believe that I am the best choice for this county given the current field. I bring with me experience in the civil and criminal area as well as the fundamental fairness and demeanor that the citizens of Polk County deserve.
Over time, I have realized that I want to become a judge for the people of Polk County, Wisconsin because I believe that I am the best choice for this county given the current field. - Polk County Circuit Judge Daniel J. Tolan
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years - State v. O’Brien (2014)
It is a great example of strictly applying the law to the facts of the case. The opinion specifically rejects the invitation of the defendant to do the job of the legislature and modify or limit Wis. Stat. 970.038. This decision is also important for judicial economy reasons as well as the demonstration of the literal application of the law to the facts and comments upon the role of the legislature. However, part of the reason why I selected this case … is because it has directly impacted my role as a prosecutor. … The Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision in O'brien to allow hearsay consistent with §970.038 has curtailed the use of the Preliminary Hearing as a mini trial, protected the rights of victims, confirmed the summary nature and narrow scope of the Preliminary Hearing as well as upholding (sic) the protection of the defendant from unwarranted prosecution. ... All in all this decision was a win - win for Wisconsin.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years — Missouri v. McNeely (2013)
I believe that this case fails to adequately consider the reasonableness component of the protections of the 4th Amendment. In that particular case, there was more than enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant. … Therefore, the focus of this case is really on the reasonableness of the police conduct … Given the facts of this case, is it really unreasonable to draw blood given the above stated facts, the guaranteed dissipation of alcohol, the natural delay that occurs in obtaining a search warrant, the government’s interest is protecting citizens from drunk driving and implied consent law? … I believe that fits within the exception to the warrant requirement as well as making (sic) the blood draw in this case reasonable. Obviously, the better practice is to try and obtain a warrant as the court decided.
Judicial philosophy – My judicial philosophy would be to a combination of a conservative and moderate. . (sic) My belief is that the judges should carefully apply the law to the facts in a fair and impartial manner and should not legislate from the bench. With that said, there will be times, such as sentencing, when a judge is required to use discretion in administering justice. In my humble opinion, I believe that everyone carries their own personal bias as a result of cultural influence from their formative years and upbringing. A judge should fairly apply the McCleaty, Gallion and any guideline sentencing factors, but to say that a judge's inherent bias will not play some role in determining a what they believe to be a just sentence is to ignore reality. For it is their own common core beliefs that will be called upon when executing justice. I am a believer in the following Ronald Reagan quote "We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the law breaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each person is accountable for his own actions."
Give any other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating your application: I have practiced law on my own from 1997 until March of 2016, when I left the private practice to be a full time Assistant District Attorney for Polk County. I think that it is a very difficult feat to come from just out of law school to practicing on your own for 18 plus year. During that time, I have had to lean on the local bar for help and advice. I think that gained me some respect as it showed that I was humble, appreciative and wanted to do things the right way. I think my ability to operate of (sic) my own for 18 years is extremely relevant because it highlights one of my strongest character traits. That trait is determination. …
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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