National Voter Registration Day: Make Your Voice Heard

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Election Law, Milwaukee, PublicLeave a comment» on National Voter Registration Day: Make Your Voice Heard

Today has National Voter Registration Day—a good time to remind everyone register to vote so that all eligible voters can make their voices heard on Election Day (which, by the way, is Tuesday, November 6). While Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration, save yourself the time and the hassle of doing it all on Election Day and register now.

You can register to vote online at My Vote up to 20 days before Election Day (para Mi Voto en español, haga clic aquí), by mail up to 20 days before Election Day, or in person at your municipal clerk’s office until the Friday before Election Day. I’ll explain how to register online at My Vote, but first let me explain who is eligible to register to vote in Wisconsin. Continue reading “National Voter Registration Day: Make Your Voice Heard”

A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief

Ed Flynn was a complete outsider to Milwaukee. The city’s police chief from 2008 to 2018, he never lived in Milwaukee before he became chief, he left Milwaukee as soon as he was done, and some people questioned how much he was connected to the life of the city as a whole while he was serving as chief.

Alfonso  Morales, Flynn’s successor, is a complete insider to Milwaukee. Born in the city, grew up on N. 33rd St., graduated from Milwaukee Tech High School, as it was then called (it’s now Bradley Tech). After graduating from Carroll College, he became a Milwaukee police officer and rose through the ranks until he was named chief in February 2018.

Flynn appeared several times at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” programs at Marquette Law School. Morales was an “On the Issues” guest for the first time on Thursday (Sept. 13, 2018). The differences between them in personal styles, in priorities, and in connecting with the community were clear. Continue reading “A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief”

Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law1 Comment on Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality
A map of the city of Milwaukee and surrounding counties illustrating the racial segregation of residents per the 200 census.
Black residential segregation as reflected in 2000 Milwaukee Census

In his commentary on May 24, 2018, Bucks guard Sterling Brown is lucky he wasn’t killed by Milwaukee Police,” Martenzie Johnson casually observes that “Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, is one of the worst cities for black Americans, economically, the worst city for African-American children to grow up in and is home to the zip code with the highest incarceration rate in the country.”

I moved to Milwaukee in 1984 to become a Marquette Lawyer.  I took my first law school exam on my 30th birthday – Torts by Professor James Ghiardi.  In May of 1987, like every Marquette lawyer graduating before me and after me, I took the attorney’s oath.  I swore to “support the Constitution of the United States,” the one ordained and established in order to “form a more perfect Union.”  I never left Milwaukee and I am proud to say I am from Milwaukee.  Yet I am at a complete loss of words to describe how it is that we, my law school and my fellow Marquette lawyers, go about our busy daily lives virtually unconscious of living in “one of the most segregated cities in America.”  If you believe you can frame the types of questions that, if answered properly and acted on, will help us deconstruct our segregated Milwaukee, then I strongly encourage you to write and to weigh in now.

In October 2015, I was involved in a three week medical malpractice trial in Outagamie County.  Judge Mark McGinnis was presiding, who is one of the best trial judges currently on the bench.  I came home Friday to rest and prepare for the final week of trial.  A little after 1 am on October 31, 2015 the incessant ring of the telephone pulled me from a deep slumber.  The voice of a woman said, “Mr. Thomsen, we tried for 45 minutes, but we couldn’t save your son.”  My wife, Grace, sitting up asks:  “What did they say?”  “He’s gone.”  “Noooooo…” turned into a mourning howl.  It is unforgettable.  And so it is that in one instant the eye of a category 5 hurricane shreds your bed, your son’s mother, your wife, his sister, his fiancé, his daughter, his uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, friends — my life and theirs too.  Judge McGinnis and defense counsel all agreed to a mistrial if I asked for one.  I returned to finish the trial.  The case had progressed and in a way that could not have been replicated.  The lawyer’s oath is a demanding one.

Yet somehow in the eye of the hurricane you can find love: the love of my son’s fiancé, of my now daughter-in-law Sydney, and my granddaughter, Sienna.  They are proudly biracial.  Sydney is considering law school.  I suggested that she become a Marquette Lawyer.  She said “no” because Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are too segregated.  The truth hurts so much. Continue reading “Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality”

Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 3L Andrea Jahimiak.

On February 22, 2017, six individuals who identify as either Black or Latino filed a class‑action lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (“FPC”), and Police Chief Edward Flynn. The plaintiffs allege that their constitutional rights were violated when they were unlawfully stopped, frisked, or both, by Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) officers.

Together, the plaintiffs are seeking relief by way of the court: (1) declaring that the defendants’ stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs are unconstitutional; and, (2) ordering immediate and permanent suspension of such policies, practices, and customs.

Allegation of a Named Plaintiff

One of the plaintiffs alleged that her teenage son has been unlawfully stopped by an MPD officer on at least three occasions. The first unlawful stop took place when he was ten years old.

Around noon in October 2010, D.A. walked to his friend’s home. When D.A. arrived at his friend’s home, he rang the doorbell, but no one answered. D.A. then used his cellphone to call his friend.

While on the phone, an MPD officer walked up to D.A., put his arms around D.A. shoulder’s and walked D.A. to his squad car located in the nearby alley. The officer then forcibly removed D.A.’s phone from him, patted him down, and made D.A. put his hands on the hood of the squad car.

The father of D.A.’s friend, a white male, ran out of the home. The father immediately asked the officer what was going on and asked why he was searching a child. The officer replied that he was making sure nothing was wrong. The officer then left.

D.A.’s mother called the associated MPD district and spoke to the sergeant. D.A.’s mother demanded to know why a police officer stopped and frisked her ten-year-old son. The sergeant said that it was MPD policy to stop and frisk young men walking through alleys.

Expert Reports Confirming MPD

Almost a year after filing suit, the ACLU of Wisconsin released three expert reports regarding the MPD’s stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs. The expert reports were conducted in relation to the ongoing class‑action lawsuit.

The expert reports concluded that the MPD has unconstitutional policies, practices, and customs. And that MPD officers routinely conduct unconstitutional stops and frisks procedures, motivated by race and ethnicity. Continue reading “Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs”

Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Lubar Center, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Project, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

America’s cities overall have experienced a remarkable decline in crime that began in the 1990s and that has brought improvements in civic life in some surprising ways.

But the strategies that played a significant part in reducing crime – including stop and frisk policing and mass incarceration – are fading, and different approaches are needed to sustain safety improvements.

And the strategies that should be pursued include building up the number and resources of community organizations that serve in many different ways to increase the quality of life in neighborhoods and doing as much as possible to encourage residents to take roles in helping that quality of life.

A leading figure in American thinking on how to improve the quality of life in urban areas presented that provocative perspective at a conference at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday. Patrick Sharkey, a professor of sociology at New York University, told an audience including leaders of many Milwaukee non-profit organizations that research and data back-up his assertion that such organizations are valuable. There is “really strong evidence” to show the value of community organizations, he said. Continue reading “Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction”

Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Marisa Cuellar Zane joins Marquette University Law School as the public interest law fellow in the Office of Public Service. In her new role, Marisa will further develop the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic’s (MVLC) estate-planning services. The MVLC is committed to helping low-income people navigate their estate-planning options by empowering clients with useful information. In 2017, the MVLC’s House of Peace and Veterans Service Office locations helped 75 people establish estate plans.

The need for estate-planning services is often overlooked in communities with low incomes and relatively lower-value assets. Yet in Milwaukee’s low-income communities, owning a home is not uncommon. Planning is essential to keep a home, usually a family’s largest asset, in the family. Advance planning also can include assigning an agent for making financial and healthcare decisions in order to avoid adult guardianship proceedings in court should infirmities arise down the road. Continue reading “Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program”

Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area

Lilith Fowler says she is “a fixer-upper” type of person. That’s true whether she’s dealing with a home or a neighborhood – or big challenges that can have impact on an entire metropolitan area. A few years ago, she was the first executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, a non-profit that played a valuable role in the revitalization of a big swatch of land near the heart of the city.

She has taken on a new challenge: Catalyzing a boom in the area around Milwaukee’s harbor, about 1,000 acres that is in large part unused or underused now, with many environmental challenges. The area can roughly be described as lying on either side of the southern stretch of the Hoan Bridge. The goal is to bring to the area the kind of appealing development that has come to nearby areas such as the Third Ward and Bay View.

In an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program in the Lubar Center of Eckstein Hall on Thursday, Fowler, executive director of Harbor District, Inc., a new and still-small non-profit, summarized the state of the area now (pretty used up) and offered visions, both in words and slides, of what the area could be (pretty beautiful, with a lot of river walks and promenades, as well as mixed commercial and residential development). Continue reading “Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area”

Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Near the end of their hour-long conversation, Mike Gousha asked outgoing Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn what was next for him.

“Really nothing much,” Flynn said. He’s going to go back to Virginia where his family lives and spend  more time with his children and grandchildren. Maybe he’ll do some consulting ahead. But, first, “I do need to de-stress a little bit, despite how relaxed I’m appearing.”

The line got a big laugh from the audience in the Lubar Center at Eckstein Hall for the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” on Feb. 8. As he finished a decade as Milwaukee’s police chief, Flynn was fired up, outspoken, and more than a bit emotional and angry. Continue reading “Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief”

Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Lubar Center, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Water LawLeave a comment» on Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century

I have previously written in this space about the difficult water policy issues facing “megacities,” generally defined as cities with a population of over ten millA photo of the cover of Marquette Lawyerion people. Meanwhile, the Law School, working in partnership with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has taken an increasing role and interest in studying various aspects of the “Chicago Megacity,” the region stretching from the Milwaukee area, across metropolitan Chicago, and into northwest Indiana. For example, see hereherehere, and here for discussion of a variety of issues such as economic development, transportation, and education.

We are excited to announce that on April 17, the Law School and the Journal Sentinel will continue those efforts, hosting a conference titled “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century.” The event is free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required; find out more and register at this link. More details about the conference follow.

Continue reading “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century”

Future of Milwaukee and Local Hispanics Is Linked, UCC Leader Says

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Future of Milwaukee and Local Hispanics Is Linked, UCC Leader Says

Ricardo Diaz says he is paid to give solutions, not to get discouraged by the problems. And solutions and generally optimistic views about the future of the Hispanic population in the Milwaukee area are what he offered in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday in the Lubar Center of Eckstein Hall.

Diaz is executive director of the United Community Center, a booming, multi-faceted operation on the South Side that offers services for everyone from pre-schoolers to the elderly, including an art center, a fitness center, a restaurant, a treatment center for people with Alzheimer’s, and a highly-praised youth music program. It is perhaps best known for its Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, a kindergarten through grade charter school with 1,300 students and a record as one of the brightest lights on the Milwaukee education scene.

Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, asked Diaz what the overall goal of the UCC is. “Simply, getting Hispanics into the middle class,” Diaz replied. And he said there is progress in doing that.   Continue reading “Future of Milwaukee and Local Hispanics Is Linked, UCC Leader Says”

Entrepreneurs Say They’re Bullish on Milwaukee, But Startup Scene Needs More

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Entrepreneurs Say They’re Bullish on Milwaukee, But Startup Scene Needs More

Just the fact that the second annual Startup Week Milwaukee will begin on Monday, Nov. 6, along with the first Startup Week Wisconsin (with programs in nine cities, plus Milwaukee), says that there is increasing energy and importance attached to launching businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs here.

At least business start-ups are creating more buzz around Wisconsin these days than they did for many years.

But there is a lot to be done to make the entrepreneurial climate comparable to that of some other places. In recent years, both Milwaukee and Wisconsin have been near the bottom of rankings for business startups.

Thoughts on both the increased momentum for startups and what needs to be done to move things farther were offered Thursday in an “On the Issue with Mike Gousha” program at the Lubar Center in Eckstein Hall. Three entrepreneurs involved in startups in the Milwaukee area described evidence that the landscape is improving. They said they expect that by several years from now, the rankings for Milwaukee and Wisconsin will be more encouraging. Continue reading “Entrepreneurs Say They’re Bullish on Milwaukee, But Startup Scene Needs More”

Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference

Tuesday was a huge day for the future of the Milwaukee area, if you think developing strong, extensive knowledge on major issues is important and if you think coming together to work on dealing with those issues is important. Just ask R. T. Rybak.

Rybak, president/CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation and former mayor of Minneapolis, was the keynote speaker at a morning-long conference in the Lubar Center at Marquette Law School, which included  the debut of the Milwaukee Area Project, a long-term research project that will be part of the new Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

The conference included ceremonies thanking Milwaukee philanthropists Sheldon and Marianne Lubar for the $7 million in grants that are providing an endowment to support the work of the public policy center. Continue reading “Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference”