Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

Madison, Wisconsin  – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has appointed Dane County Circuit Court Judge William E. Hanrahan as chief judge of the Fifth Judicial Administrative District.

Hanrahan replaces outgoing Chief Judge James P. Daley, Rock County Circuit Court, who retired from the bench effective March 2, 2018. Hanrahan will serve the remainder of Daley’s appointed term, to July 31, 2019 or until further order of the Supreme Court.

Hanrahan, who presides over the circuit court’s criminal division, was appointed to the Dane County bench in 2007. He was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2014. He serves as associate dean of the Wisconsin Judicial College and is a member of the Criminal Jury Instructions Committee of the Wisconsin Judicial Conference.

Before becoming a judge, Hanrahan served as an assistant attorney general in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, from 1998 to 2007, including three years as director of the Medicaid Fraud Unit. Before that, he was an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, from 1988 to 1998. Hanrahan is a graduate of UW-Green Bay and Hamline University School of Law.

Daley was first appointed chief judge on Aug. 1, 2013 and was re-appointed in 2015 and 2017. He was first appointed to the Rock County bench in 1989. He was elected in 1990 and re-elected in 1996, 2002 and 2008. Before becoming a judge, Daley served as Rock County district attorney from 1985 to 1989 and was an attorney in private practice from 1981 to 1985.

The Supreme Court appoints circuit court judges as needed to serve as chief administrative judge in each of the state’s 10 judicial administrative districts. Chief judges may be appointed to a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms.

Working as a team with a deputy chief judge and a professional court administrator, a chief judge manages the flow of cases and meets several times a year with other chief judges as a committee to work on administrative issues of statewide importance. With the exception of the First Judicial Administrative District, where the chief judge is a full-time administrator, chief judges and their deputies maintain court calendars in addition to handling administrative matters.

The Fifth District encompasses Dane, Green, Lafayette and Rock counties in South-central Wisconsin.

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