Supreme Court Justice Dies Unexpectedly

State Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks died of natural causes in his court chambers. Justice Crooks had announced just a few days prior to his death that he would not seek reelection in 2016.

Justice Crooks was first elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1996, and was reelected in 2006. Growing up, he attended Premontre High School in Green Bay, received his bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College, and graduated third in his class at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Justice Crooks served as a U.S. Army officer at the Pentagon, in the Office of the Judge Advocate General where he attained the rank of Captain. He enjoyed private practice from 1966 to 1977, while he taught business law at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He served as a Judge in Brown County for 19 years and was American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Trial Judge of the year in 1994. Justice Crooks was the father of six, and grandfather to twenty-one.

Vacancy on the Court

Governor Walker announced he would be taking applications to fill the vacancy on the court, and that applications would be due October 2. Prior to Justice Crooks’ passing, three judges had jumped into the race to fill his spot in 2016: District I Court of Appeals Judge Rebecca Bradley, Milwaukee County Judge Joe Donald, and District IV Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Now court watchers are waiting to see if Governor Walker will appoint one of the candidates, or appoint an interim judge to serve until the election. There is precedent for both scenarios. The primary election will be held February 16, and the general election for State Supreme Court is April 5, 2016.