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Brennan elected as chair of Wisconsin Public Defender Board

James Brennan has been elected as chair of the Wisconsin Public Defender Board.

The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office announced its election results on Thursday.

James Brennan

James Brennan

Brennan is a former State Bar of Wisconsin president, chief staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He succeeds Regina Dunkin, community relations coordinator for Beloit Health System, as chair.

Kelli Thompson, State Public Defender, said Brennan has spent his professional life fighting for the rights of those disadvantaged in life. Brennan said he couldn’t think of a greater calling to help people in need. He’s excited to continue the work of his predecessors and advance the work of SPD lawyers and staff.

John Hogan

John Hogan

The board also elected John Hogan as vice chair. Hogan, a former Oneida County district attorney, runs Hogan Law Office, specializing in trial practice in the Rhinelander-Minocqua area. Ellen Thorn will serve as secretary. Thorn, a partner with Arndt, Buswell, & Thorn in Sparta, is a former public defender and former president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Ellen Thorn

Ellen Thorn

Thompson said the SPD’s office is grateful to have the experience of the officers and board members to guide the agency.

The nine-member Public Defender Board provides oversight of the State Public Defender’s Office. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The SPD is an independent, executive-branch state agency that provides legal representation to indigent people facing potential loss of liberty.

About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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