MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today his appointment of Michael Zell to the Portage County Circuit Court – Branch 1. The appointment will fill a vacancy being created by Judge Thomas B. Eagon’s retirement. Zell will complete a term ending July 31, 2023.
“Michael Zell is a highly respected lawyer who will be an excellent judge for the people of Portage County,” said Gov. Evers. “His breadth of experience, including as both a public defender and a prosecutor, combined with his commitment to a fair and just criminal justice system, make him exceptionally well-qualified for this role.”
Zell has been practicing law across Wisconsin for the past 24 years. He began his career as an assistant state public defender in Racine County. After spending time at a private firm, he opened his own law office in Milwaukee in 2002, which was relocated Stevens Point in 2009. As a solo practitioner, Zell focused on family law, guardian ad litem representation, child welfare cases, and criminal appeals. In 2015, he began working as an assistant district attorney in Wood County, a position he also later held in Portage and Marathon counties. Since April 2021, Zell has served as an assistant state public defender in Wood and Marathon County, representing clients in criminal, juvenile, and termination of parental rights cases. Throughout his career, he has also been a mentor to new attorneys.
“Michael Zell has all the qualities necessary to be an excellent circuit court judge,” said retired Portage County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Flugaur. “Litigants appearing in his court will experience a judge who is well prepared, fair, and patient. Michael has an impeccable reputation within our legal community. The people of Portage County are fortunate to have another quality judge presiding in Branch 1, following Judge Eagon.”
Zell lives in Stevens Point with his family and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin Law School. He has been active both in professional and community organizations, including as a volunteer for the Portage County Legal Aid Society, a special investigator for the Office of Lawyer Regulation, the past director of Wisconsin Rapids Rec Soccer, and as a volunteer at his kid’s school.
“It is truly an honor to be selected by Governor Evers as the next Judge of Portage County Circuit Court –Branch 1,” said Zell. “Retiring Judge Thomas Eagon was a leader in the legal community through his commitment to excellence, fairness, and justice for all. I would like to thank my friends and family, the Governor, and the judicial selection advisory committee for trusting me to carry on this tradition. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve the people of Portage County.”
A photo of Zell is available here.
An online version of this release is available here.