Kelli Thompson has been named as the next Wisconsin State Public Defender.
The agency’s board chose Thompson, a 12-year SPD veteran, to succeed Nick Chiarkas, who retired earlier this year after 22 years as head of the agency.
Thompson has served as the Deputy State Public Defender for the past seven years and as the Acting State Public Defender since January 2011.
Thompson takes over during the height of ongoing battles regarding the rights of state union employees, which includes members of the SPD.
In March, Gov. Scott Walker rescinded layoff notices issued to the agency with passage of legislation that eliminated collective bargaining rights for state union employees and also increased worker contributions to health care and retirement benefits.
There is an ongoing court battle as to whether the law is in effect.
The other finalists for the SPD position were Randall Keys, Deputy Division Administrator, Division of Early Care & Education, Wisconsin Department of Children & Families; and Mike Tobin, Division Director, Trial Division, Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office.
— Jack Zemlicka