The names of six of 10 candidates – four requested confidentiality – seeking an open seat on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court bench were released Friday morning by Gov. Scott Walker’s office.
The list includes Milwaukee attorneys, the Milwaukee County assistant district attorney and a Middleton sole practitioner that may be ineligible.
According to the State Bar of Wisconsin website, Middleton-based Kirsten Nichols is a 2008 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, which would make her ineligible to sit on the bench. Article VII of the Wisconsin Constitution requires that an attorney be licensed to practice in Wisconsin for at least five years prior to an election or appointment.
Nevertheless, Nichols applied for the position vacated by Judge Francis Wasielewski, who retired on July 15 after 28 years on the bench.
When reached for comment, Nichols declined to say whether she was aware of the criteria before she submitted her application or disclose her motivation for seeking the position.
Fellow applicant and New Berlin sole practitioner Chris Carson, 42, applauded her audacity, however.
“I was a little surprised,” he said. “But you know, you have to give her credit for being a whippersnapper.”
According to Nichols’ firm website, she practices labor and employment law, estate planning and intellectual property.
Other applicants for the Branch 17 seat, which will be up for election next spring, include Carson, a 1992 Marquette law school graduate; Milwaukee attorney Frank Schiro (Marquette, 1969); Godfrey & Kahn SC attorney Nelson Phillips (Wisconsin, 1998); Madison Tax Appeals Commissioner Tom Adams (Wisconsin, 1987); and Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Dan Gabler (Marquette, 1991).
The other four candidates chose to keep their names confidential, according to Walker spokesperson Cullen Werwie.
The Judicial Selection Advisory Committee is set to review applications Aug. 8. When asked whether Nichols’ application would be denied, committee member Steven Gibbs said “most likely, yes.”