around the bar
May 19, 2010

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice to Receive ABA John Marshall Award

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, recipient of the 2010 John Marshall Award

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, recipient of the 2010 John Marshall Award

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson has been named recipient of the _ Justice Center’s 2010 John Marshall Award in recognition of her exemplary lifelong commitment and dedication to the improvement of the administration of justice.

Abrahamson became the first woman on the Wisconsin Supreme Court when she was appointed in 1976 and has served as chief justice since 1996.

The John Marshall Award is named in honor of the fourth chief justice of the United States, who is credited with establishing the independence of the judiciary and enhancing its moral authority. The award will be presented at the ABA Annual Dinner in Honor of the Judiciary, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m. at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco during the association’s 2010 Annual Meeting.

“Chief Justice Abrahamson has proven her dedication to the law and to our profession by her many years of leadership of her state’s judiciary as well as many other national judicial and legal organizations,” said Judge Mary Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit and chair of the John Marshall Award Committee.  “She is a role model to lawyers and judges throughout the country.  She is a most worthy recipient of this award.”

After her appointment to the state’s high court, Abrahamson was elected to a 10-year term in 1979, then was re-elected in 1989, 1999 and 2009.  Before her appointment to the court, she practiced law in Madison, Wis., for 14 years, taught as a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin Law School, and lectured at Marquette University Law School.

“Shirley Abrahamson is a legend in the world of judicial administration who cares about the way people are treated in her state’s courts,” said Judge Cara Lee Neville of the 4th Judicial District in Minneapolis and chair of the Justice Center Coordinating Council.  “I am delighted that she is this year’s honoree.”

Abrahamson is a past president of the Conference of Chief Justices, a past chair of the board of directors of the National Center for State Courts, and is a member of the council of the American Law Institute and of the board of directors of the Institute of Judicial Administration at New York University School of Law.  She is also a member of the National Board of Academic Advisors of the William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government, of the Judicial Advisory Board of the American Society for International Law, and of the advisory board of the National Institute of Corrections Evidence-Based Decision Making Project.

Among her many honors, Abrahamson was awarded the Harry L. Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation by the National Center for State Courts in 2009, the Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence by the American Judicature Society in 2004, and the Harley Award in 1999.  She also received the 1999 Wisconsin Newsmaker of the Year Award, the 1995 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the ABA, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994.

Abrahamson earned a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from New York University in 1953, a Juris Doctor with high distinction from Indiana University Law School in 1956, and a Doctor of Juridical Science in American legal history from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1962.  She also holds 15 honorary doctors of law degrees.  She has authored numerous law review articles on various subjects and has presented named lectures at the law schools of a number of universities.

Abrahamson and her husband, Seymour, have a son, Daniel. Her current term expires July 31, 2019.

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