Court of Appeals

Former judges

photo of retired Judge Michael T. SullivanMichael T. Sullivan

District I (1984-1996)

Michael T. Sullivan was a judge in Milwaukee County for more than four decades. He was elected to the circuit court at the age of 28 and had a long career on the trial bench, serving as chief judge for five years and in every division of the court over approximately 29 years. He was elected to two terms in District I. After retirement, he was available on reserve status. "In no sense of the word will I be retired," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , when it reviewed his long career.

Two unusual cases over the four decades stood out, he told the Journal Sentinel : a "right-to-die" case in 1972 in which he held a hearing in a hospital room (no duty to use artificial means to keep a terminally ill woman alive) and a murder case in 1995 in which, writing for the majority, he elaborated on "mind science" evidence in rejecting the so-called urban psychosis defense.

The Journal Sentinel also noted Sullivan's longstanding reputation for discipline --"I'm up at 4 a.m. and in to work at 6 a.m."--hard work, and toughness. He saved many lives by donating 257 pints of blood. He had been stricken with polio at the age of six and used arm braces and wheelchairs for the remainder of his life.

He was born in Milwaukee in 1924 and graduated with B.A. and J.D. degrees from Marquette Law School. He earned an LL.M. degree in taxation from John Marshall Law School in 1972.

He died at the age of 82 of complications from post-polio syndrome. His wife, Jeanne, died in 2002. They had one son, Michael T. Sullivan Jr., who is a lawyer.

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