Joan F. Kessler
Joan F. Kessler (born 1944) is an American jurist and a judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, serving since 2004. Kessler previously served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin from 1978 to 1981.
Life and career
A native of Louisiana, Kessler graduated from the University of Kansas in 1966 and from Marquette University Law School in 1968. She worked as a law clerk for United States District Judge John W. Reynolds, Jr. in Milwaukee from 1968-69 before entering private practice. Kessler was a supporter of Jimmy Carter's candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976; in 1978, Carter appointed her as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
As United States Attorney, Kessler received praise for her performance in court and her open-door policy toward criminal defense attorneys, but clashed with Milwaukee City Attorney James Brennan over her investigation into the Milwaukee Police Department's hiring and promotion practices. She resigned in March 1981, following Carter's 1980 defeat to Ronald Reagan, and entered private practice with the Milwaukee firm Foley and Lardner. Kessler specialized as a divorce attorney at Foley and Lardner and was eventually selected as a partner in the firm.
In 2004, Kessler challenged incumbent Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Charles Schudson for his seat on the court's Milwaukee-based District I. The campaign was hotly contested; Kessler's campaign alleged that Schudson had committed several violations of judicial ethics, charges he vehemently denied; Schudson later levied ethics allegations against Kessler. Kessler unseated Schudson in the April general election, but was not cleared of ethical wrongdoing until 2010.
Kessler has participated in several notable cases during her tenure as an appellate judge. In December 2014, she authored a decision affirming the conviction of Kelly Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker when he served as Milwaukee County Executive. In July 2015, Kessler wrote a concurring opinion in a decision reinstating Milwaukee's employee residency rules, which had been voided by a Milwaukee County circuit judge.
- "Carter Picks Joan Kessler for US Post". The Milwaukee Journal. February 28, 1978. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "Judge Joan F. Kessler". Judges. Wisconsin Court System. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Aikin, Jeff (June 5, 1979). "Joan Kessler, prosecutor, one year later". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "Brennan asks probe of Mrs. Kessler". The Milwaukee Journal. April 21, 1980. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "US Dist. Atty. Kessler to step down in March". The Milwaukee Sentinel. January 16, 1981. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Bice, Daniel; Spivak, Cary (February 22, 2006). "Judge may have to state case before court". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "Attorney to run for appellate seat". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. July 18, 2003. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Vielmetti, Bruce (October 14, 2010). "Kesslers will not be disciplined over 2004 ethics complaints". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Stein, Jason (November 12, 2014). "Appeals Court rejects Rindfleisch appeal of John Doe conviction". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Willms, Molly (July 22, 2015). "Wisconsin Cities Can Tell Workers Where to Live". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved July 31, 2015.