Graham Kilmer

Lena Taylor Appointed to Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Long-serving state senator is latest Evers appointment to local circuit court.

By - Jan 26th, 2024 01:36 pm
Lena Taylor delivers the Real State of the City. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Lena Taylor delivers the Real State of the City during her 2020 mayoral campaign. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that he is appointing State Sen. Lena Taylor to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Taylor will take over Branch 41 from Judge Audrey Skwierawski, who resigned to become the state court director.

“Senator Taylor is a committed public servant who has dedicated her life to pursuing justice for her community and the people of Wisconsin,” said Evers in a press release announcing the appointment. “I am confident that she will serve the people of Milwaukee County well as a circuit court judge.”

Taylor is a long-serving state legislator, first elected to the state Assembly in a 2003 special election and then state Senate in 2004. During her political career, Taylor has also run for mayor of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Executive, municipal judge and lieutenant governor. She ran for mayor twice, losing to Tom Barrett in 2020 and Cavalier Johnson in 2022. Taylor faced electoral challenges from within her own party, too. In 2016, she defeated a primary challenge from then-Rep. Mandela Barnes for her Senate seat.

“It is with great honor that I both thank the people of the 4th SD for the opportunity to serve them since 2005 and Governor Evers for the opportunity to take my life experiences, constant quest for the truth, and unwavering commitment to equity and justice for all to the Circuit Court of Milwaukee County,” said Taylor.

Taylor is a native Milwaukeean, and has lived in and represented the neighborhood she grew up in during her time in the legislature. She is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee and Southern Illinois University–Carbondale School of Law. She began her career in 1993 working as a public defender. In 1996 she moved to private practice, opening a private practice on the city’s north side where she handled a range of cases including criminal defense, real estate law and family law.

“As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, Senator Lena Taylor has dedicated her life fighting for equal rights and justice while proudly representing the citizens and residents of her district,” said attorney Mark Thomsen of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP in a statement. “Her life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and courage are now needed more than ever in our court.”

During her time in the legislature, Taylor authored more than 120 pieces of legislation, according to the governor’s office, and served on a number of committees in both houses, including as chair.

She also found herself more than once mired in controversy. Notably, she was removed from the Joint Finance Committee in 2018 over allegations that she had bullied members of her staff. The same year she also had an altercation at a Milwaukee Wells Fargo bank branch where she called a teller, who like Taylor is Black, a “house (N-word).” She was issued a citation for the matter.

Taylor was only the second Black woman elected to serve in the Wisconsin State Senate. She has pushed racial justice causes and criminal justice reform, including marijuana decriminalization, during her time in office.

“Senator Taylor has proven her commitment through her work when the cameras aren’t rolling, and no election is approaching,” said Rep. Evan Goyke in a statement. “This is the type of commitment and service I want in our judiciary.”

Taylor would have been up for re-election in the fall. Instead, she will face a nonpartisan, spring 2025 election for a full, six-year term as a judge. Circuit court judges are paid an annual salary of approximately $164,000.

A special election is expected to be called to fill Taylor’s Senate seat. She is expected to resign from the seat Friday.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

8 thoughts on “Lena Taylor Appointed to Milwaukee County Circuit Court”

  1. says:

    Well he finally found a way to get rid of her!

  2. ZeeManMke says:
    State Bar ID Number: 1022930 Look up this pathetic record.

    In the past twenty years, six rinky-dink cases in the circuit court.
    Why does Gov. Evers hate us so much that he would appoint someone
    so unqualified as a judge?

  3. DAGDAG says:

    Isn’t it great that a person who uses the “good house “N” word” can still get ahead and be appointed a Judge! She used the phrase while arguing with a bank employee in Milwaukee back in 2018 and was charged with disorderly conduct for doing so. According to FOX6 reports, (and she says that in her defense), that she had the right to use the word because both she and the teller are black and conversations within black culture are different than other conversations. You gotta love those double standards, ainna hey? Ain’t Wisconsin Great!

  4. tornado75 says:

    i really like evers and it’s hard to see him make a mistake. she is a mistake and being a appointed judge is a double mistake. i don’t know what kind of pressure he was under to appoint taylor, but he obviously was not talking to people who know. too bad for wisconsin.

  5. mkwagner says:

    Actually, other than Taylor being an intelligent, assertive Black Woman (tipping my hat to the white guys) I believe her skills and temperament are well suited for the circuit court. Milwaukee will be well served by Judge Taylor.

  6. tornado75 says:

    that is not what she is.

  7. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    You know that sometimes people get moved up to get them out of the way, right?

    Win-win situation here.

  8. ZeeManMke says:

    Being a circuit court judge is not an entry-level “learn-on-the-job position.” This is a lose-lose for justice and the people of Milwaukee County. Her beyond meager record of six tiny rinky-dink cases in the last twenty years is the best proof she is beyond unqualified to be a judge.

    Judges’ decisions can have a profound effect on people, the city (see the Northridge debacle), and the County. She lacks the temperament, legal knowledge, skill, and experience to sit on the bench. She is not “out of the way.” She will be “in the face” of many people and they will suffer. Laugh if you want, this appointment is a slap in the face to the law and the people of Milwaukee County.

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