Legal Guide

Scott Walker’s Milwaukee Supreme Court Pick, Going Against The Grain?

With the GOP convention behind the nation, many are stopping to take stock and count those who decided to take a pass instead of forging a coalition behind the Republican candidate Donald Trump. It is hard to believe that Trump, slated not to make it past the first round, beat out top contenders like Scott Walker.

At this time last year, hopefuls believed that Scott Walker would win the top spot, but he was one of the first to take himself from the running. Just because he no longer has aspirations to become President, that does not mean that he isn’t playing an integral part of this nation’s political movement. Just last week, Walker chose Daniel Kelly, a Milwaukee-based lawyer who has no judicial experience at all, rather built a reputation in commercial litigation and avoiding malpractice Santa Ana trials, to become the newest member of the state Supreme Court.

Retiring Justice David Prosser will be replaced by the newbie Kelly, officially being announced on Friday in a press release held on the Capital steps of the state building in Wisconsin. Although there were rumors prior to naming Kelly new the Supreme Court justice, many believed that he would go another direction and choose someone who has not only experience as a judge but a record of conservative rulings to back up proof that he would rule on the side of conservative ideals and values.

What does Kelly have that Walker would base his appointment on? Kelly has years of accomplishment behind him as both an appellate and a respected trial attorney. He has appeared in front of the US Supreme Court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as an attorney and understands the process of the Supreme Court. He also recognizes the heavy task that he is undertaking by becoming a member of one of the highest court officials in the land.

Walker chose Kelly specifically because he wasn’t a judge and, therefore, would have more real-life experience to take with him to the bench. Being a staunch “anti-establishment” politician himself, Walker chose him not in spite of his experience, but because of it. Believing that he would bring a fresh approach and a new eye to the Court, it was his lack of experience that Walker found so appealing.

Walker has always been known for his unconventional decisions, and choosing Kelly was no different. An unlikely choice, there were many others in the running that probably would have made a more traditional choice, but one that Walker was not interested in. Toying with the decision, Walker did what he always does, and what makes him so trusted by those he serves. He went with his gut and along with his beliefs about the way that government should be run.

Two other judges who were thought to be considerations, Mark Fundrum, a former state lawyer and lawmaker and Thomas Hruz, have well-established roots in Wisconsin and in the court system. Kelly has over 18-years of experience in the Wisconsin courts which makes him anything but the new kid on the block. Working with developers, manufacturers, investors, financial institutions, corporations, and professionals, he has covered the gamut of industries across Wisconsin.

Kelly insisted that his name not be made public while being considered for a seat. He wanted to be left out of the scrutiny of the public eye and to avoid the investigation that would likely follow any mention of his name. He founded a law firm in 2014, and also became lead counsel for the Kern Family Foundation and did not want any word of his impending nomination to interfere with his current positions.

Some believe that there are ties that swayed Walker to choose such a nonconventional choice for the court while others see it as a likely one due to the cases that Kelly has defended, believed in, and fought for over his career. Due to the controversy that Walker has stirred up in the past for some very highly powerful people, it is not surprising that there will be scrutiny following his appointment.

What many have seen before is that Walker not only thinks outside the box, he follows through with what he says and doesn’t always follow protocol. Those are the qualities that make him so polarizing. They are also the ones that allow him to be so successful in political circles.

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