"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.
Name: Michael J. Aprahamian
Appointed to: Waukesha County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Oct. 17, 2014
Law School – Yale University
Undergrad – University of Wisconsin - Madison
High School – Brookfield East High School
2001 - present – Foley & Lardner, partner
1997 - 2001 – Law Office of Anna Becker
1999 - 2006 – Jackson County district attorney (did not seek re-election to a fifth term)
American Bar Association
Seventh Circuit Bar Association
Waukesha County Bar Association
Milwaukee County Bar Association
Wisconsin Bar Association
Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association
Serjeants' Inn – select professional society comprised of 50 attorneys and judges in the Milwaukee area legal community.
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: 21 years experience as commercial litigator representing plaintiffs and defendants. Acted as appointed counsel in several pro bono criminal appeals. I take pride not only in my ability to assist clients in solving their legal problems, but in the fact that my largest single source of referrals over the years has been opposing counsel."
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, 10; non-jury, 5; arbitration, 5.
Number of cases on appeal: 20 cases listed, including Libertarian Party of Wisconsin v. State, in which Aprahamian says he “performed primary legal research and assisted in appellate briefing.” (See answer to "best decision" question below.)
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns in the last six years:
Endorsed Jusge Lisa S. Neubauer and Paul F. Reilly for Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
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: My nephew was born blind and upon my return to Milwaukee after law school, I wanted to volunteer in support of organizations serving the blind and visually impaired. From 1994-2008, I served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Children, Inc., and as its President from 2008-2010.
Others roles include facilitating the merger of that group with the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Improved, serving as Vice President and President on the board, and co-chair of a capital campaign. Also active with the Cross of Life Lutheran Church, Brookfield.
... the (State Supreme) Court and its decisions have become increasingly fractured, particularly in high profile cases, leading to well-publicized tension among the Justices and a lack of collegiality and decorum that threaten public trust in the institution.
Describe any pro bono legal work you have done including dates: Worked as appointed counsel in 2009-2010 in a federal criminal appeal; involved in other pro bono appellate appointments, reviewing briefs and preparing associates for argument; participated in guardianship case before Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2013; and was appointed counsel in helping prisoner pursue post-conviction relief in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
Why I want to be a judge – I want to serve my community. I was raised on the belief that public service in the epitome of citizenship and bringing my knowledge, experience and dedication to bear in service of my community would be very fulfilling. Equally important, I have found that the intellectual challenge is the most rewarding aspect of my career in the law. As a judge, I will face new and different legal issues, all in the context of real-world stakes for those presenting them.
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years - Libertarian Party v. State (1996)
The case involved a challenge to the Stadium Act, which provided for the formation of local baseball park districts and empowered the districts to build and maintain professional baseball parks. The Libertarian Party argued (among other things) that the Stadium Act was unconstitutional as a private tax law and because it permitted the contracting of state debt without a public purpose. In a unanimous decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court methodically rejected each of the challenges, ultimately paving the way for the building of Miller Park and preventing the Milwaukee Brewers from becoming the second Major League Baseball team to leave Milwaukee for greener fields. …
The decision … embodies how the three branches of our government can work together effectively to promote the public good. ...
Finally, the Supreme Court's decision was unanimous (with one Justice not participating). Clarity and force in Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions is certainly a desirable objective. In the fifteen years since the Court decided Libertarian Party, however, the Court and its decisions have become increasingly fractured, particularly in high profile cases, leading to well-publicized tension among the Justices and a lack of collegiality and decorum that threaten public trust in the institution.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years —National Federation of Independent Business et al v. Sebelius (2012)
One of the worst opinions in the last thirty years was National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, otherwise known as the Obamacare Case. That case stretches beyond all recognition the idea of a federal government of limited powers. Upholding Obamacare as a “tax” smacks of judicial legislation to achieve a desired end—that is, upholding the act.
Judicial philosophy – I am a judicial conservative and will apply the law as written and as interpreted by established precedent, and will do so impartially, without regard to the parties involved. I understand the limited role played by judges in a constitutional democracy, and will not succumb to pressure to broaden my role nor shrink from my responsibility to perform it.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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