The Hon. Lena Taylor, a 20-year veteran of the Wisconsin State Legislature was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to be a judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in January.

“Sen. Taylor is a committed public servant who has dedicated her life to pursuing justice for her community and the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Judge Taylor, 57, was first elected to the Assembly in 2003 and has been in the Senate since 2005. 

As a Milwaukee native, Taylor still lives on the block she grew up on.  She is a graduate of Rufus King H.S. and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  After earning a law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she practiced as a Public Defender.  Eventually, she opened Taylor and Associates Law Office, a general practice firm in Milwaukee, before going to the legislature.  During her time in the Legislature, most of which she was the only Black member of the Senate, Taylor has been a vocal advocate for justice reform and Milwaukee. She previously served as chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Since 2003, Taylor has served in the Wisconsin State Legislature, first as a state representative representing the 18th Assembly District from 2003 to 2005, and since 2005, as a state senator representing the 4th Senate District. During her time in the Legislature, she has authored and passed into law more than 120 pieces of legislation, chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and served as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance. Taylor also served on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, the Joint Committee of Criminal Penalties Review, the Judicial Council, the Uniform Law Committee, and the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee. In addition, she has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women; National Black Caucus of State Legislators; and the NAACP. 

As she left her role as State Senator, she released the following statement:

“Effective today, at 5:00pm, I am resigning my position as State Senator with the Wisconsin State Senate. I have been appointed, by Governor Tony Evers, to fill a vacancy in Milwaukee County Circuit Court – Branch 41.  It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of the 4th Senate and the 18th Assembly Districts, over the course of my 20-year tenure with the Wisconsin State Legislature. It has, also, been a pleasure to work with my colleagues, staff, state employees, and the dedicated Capitol employees, that made it possible for me to serve my constituents. As I prepare for the next phase in my journey of public service, I must admit this feels like a full circle moment. I began my career as a public defender and then private practice attorney. Even in running for public office, the goal of justice reform, accountable and responsive systems, has always been my priority. I will take the many years of service on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, my tenure as the committee chair, and wealth of legislative experience creating law, reviewing policy, and training to this new role. I am excited and appreciative of Governor Evers’ trust in my ability to serve the community in this capacity.”

Taylor, who began her legal career as a public defender, said being named judge is a “full circle moment.” She said justice reform remains a priority.