Statement from Andrew Jones
My desire to enter into public service as a judge can be traced to my parents, both of whom were dedicated public servants. My father taught at UWM, and my mother was a librarian for the federal courts. Both my sister and brother are long-time public high school teachers.
I grew up in Shorewood and attended the Shorewood public schools. After college, I worked for then-Congressman Jim Moody in Washington, D.C. While in law school in Madison, I clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City, and I interned at the Wisconsin Department of Justice and for Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
Following law school, I returned to New York to work as an assistant city attorney at the New York City Law Department. In 1998, my wife, Amy, and I returned to Milwaukee to start a family. I took a position as a trial and appellate attorney at Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, and I remained at the firm (now known as Husch Blackwell) until I took a seat on the bench in 2018. Over the 24 years I was a practicing attorney, I tried cases and handled appeals at every of the state and federal court systems, including the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts. I served on the boards of directors of both Whyte Hirschboeck and Husch Blackwell.
It is a privilege to now serve on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Trial judges are the backbone of our legal system. Their independence, fairness, and faithful application of the law to all who appear before them are crucial to preserving the public’s faith in the courts. As a judge, I am fully committed to serving all residents of Milwaukee County equally and to fairly and impartially applying the law to everyone who comes before me, without exception.
1. What would be your primary concerns for “the state of the state”?
As a sitting judge, I am not in a position to comment on policy issues or controversies that might come before me. My responsibility as a judge is to apply the law as it is written and based on controlling precedent, while ensuring that it is applied equally to all parties who come before me.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, as the “state of the state” relates to the judicial system, I believe that the issue of access to the courts for low-income and other underprivileged members of the community is and must remain of primary concern. This issue manifests itself in numerous ways, including, perhaps most importantly, the current problems surrounding the appointment of counsel to those who cannot afford it as guaranteed by the Constitution.
2. Which of your past work or cases do you feel has contributed most to or formed the kind of Judge you would be?
Some of my most satisfying and rewarding experiences in private practice came through representing public entities and officials. Representing public sector clients provided me with a strong sense of working for the interests of the public as a whole, whether by defending the public fisc, local legislation or policy, or individual public officials and employees. I found this aspect of my practice deeply rewarding, as it provided the satisfaction not only of serving well my individual client or clients, but also those they were serving, the public as a whole. In many ways, this was a natural extension of my first job as a lawyer, where I represented New York City and its employees as an assistant city attorney with the New York City Law Department.
I sought to become a judge because I was interested in making a more direct contribution to the greater good – to the broader legal system and the local community as a whole. I see serving as a circuit court judge as an excellent opportunity to do just that. Whether presiding over felony trials, civil actions, or small claims disputes, trial judges’ independence, integrity, and – above all – their faithfulness to the constitution and the law, and the equal application of the law to everyone who appears before them, is what makes the legal system work and preserves the public’s faith in this core institution of our society.
Having tried to serve the public’s interests through my work as a practicing lawyer, I am fully committed to serving as a judge who is always prepared, open minded and ready to listen, respectful of everyone who sets foot in my courtroom, fiercely independent, and, above all else, mindful of the need to treat everyone equally under the law.
3. Please list any political, philanthropic, or professional groups of which you have been an active member.
I currently sit on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Bar Association Foundation, which helps fund and oversee the Milwaukee Justice Center, which utilizes volunteers to address the unmet legal needs of Milwaukee County's low-income, unrepresented litigants. I also sit on the board of directors of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, a leading hunger-relief organization. I joined both boards because of the excellent work those organizations are doing in serving underprivileged communities in Milwaukee – the MBA Foundation with those needing access to the legal system and FAEW with the hungry.
I am currently a mentor for a student at Carmen High School through the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association. I was a mentor for numerous younger attorneys during my time in private practice, and the EDWBA mentor program gave me the opportunity to continue serving as a mentor when I left my firm to become a judge.
I have long volunteered at the St. John’s Cathedral Open Door Café, a meal program serving the homeless and other underprivileged members of the community. I do this because it presents an opportunity to serve people in need in the most direct way possible.
I also have belonged to various bar associations since I began practicing in Milwaukee in 1998, including the Milwaukee Bar Association, the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, and the Seventh Circuit Bar Association.
4. Very briefly (about one sentence for each group), please describe what about those groups appealed to you, and why you worked with/joined them.
See response to Question 3 above.
5. What do you see as the role of the courts in the community?
The role of the courts, first and foremost, is to serve the ends of justice by faithfully and impartially applying the law to resolve disputes that are brought before them. Litigants need to be able to rely on the fact that when they come before a judge – at any level of the judicial system – the law will be enforced and applied as the constitution, applicable legislation, or precedent dictates. As importantly, they must be able to count on the fact that the law will be applied fairly and equally to everyone, without exception. This provides certainty and reliability to litigants, as well as a faith in the core function of the courts to serve the entire community, all of which are crucial to the role and integrity of the judiciary in our system of government.