Judge Kelley Made a Mark on the Eastern District Jerry Kerkman, Kerkman & Dunn
Compassion, empathy, and a deep concern for others mark the judicial career of the Honorable Susan V. Kelley. Judge Kelley retired from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on January 31, 2019. She plans to spend time with her grandchildren, split her time between her condominiums in Madison and the Milwaukee area, travel and continue to enjoy Brewers and Marquette games and music concerts. She will be sorely missed by both individuals seeking relief under bankruptcy laws and the attorneys who practiced before her.
Judge Kelley took the bench in July 2003 following a distinguished career as a bankruptcy attorney for more than 20 years, first in Baltimore and then in Madison. She was active in State Bar activities as a member of the State Bar Board of Governors and Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Creditors Rights board member. She brought a wealth of experience and knowledge of bankruptcy law to the bench. It served her well throughout her judicial tenure. She advanced understanding of the law, serving as an editor and then Editor-in-Chief of the leading national bankruptcy treatise of “Ginsburg & Martin on Bankruptcy,” now in its Fifth Edition.
She presided over some of the largest bankruptcy cases in the State and brought them to successful conclusions. The Milwaukee Archdiocese case lasted nearly five years. That case tackled complex and novel issues involving the First Amendment, and property rights between the archdiocese and individual parishes. The case also played out in a fishbowl of public opinion under intense media scrutiny due to the emotional undertones from the sexual abuse claims asserted against the Church. Judge Kelley’s decisions aptly applied the law to emotionally charged issues.
Judge Kelley’s docket involved more than just high-profile cases. It also involved ordinary consumers and the very poor. Some debtors appearing before her were unable to pay basic filing fees. They could not afford lawyers. But there is only so much she could do as a judge to help them, leading to much frustration. So she developed the Pro Se Help Desk. She worked with the Clerk’s Office to have an attorney law clerk that dedicated a portion of time to the Help Desk while also working at the Clerk’s Office. She sought staffing from volunteer attorneys who could guide pro se debtors to successfully complete their cases. Because of the Help Desk, bankruptcy relief is widely accessible to those who most needed it and who can least afford it.
She also helped educate local bankruptcy practitioners. She taught bankruptcy courses at Marquette University Law School and founded the Lou Jones Breakfast Club. Ever eager to assist, she could always be counted on to present at CLE seminars, often with illustrative costumes.
Judge Kelley viewed her role as serving society, doing some good and helping others. Something in her background had adequately prepared her: maybe it was her upbringing as the oldest daughter of a local physician, her growing up in the rural Wisconsin town of Little Chute, her undergraduate education at Marquette University or her law degree from Catholic University of America in 1979. Whatever it was, the Eastern District Bar is glad. It is a better place because of her.
The Eastern District Bar wishes her well as she continues to enjoy her family, competitive cooking and rock music – even coining her passion as “Susapalooza” after the Chicago festival, “Lollapalooza.” But not to despair, she will also be available for unpaid mediation sessions when called upon by bankruptcy judges. Also, she will be on recall status and available when a certain Chief Bankruptcy Judge in Madison is conflicted out of cases due to her lawyer-husband – a little bit of a homecoming for a Madison lawyer who ventured to the unfamiliar Eastern District court system some 16 years ago to become its Chief Bankruptcy Judge. Thank you Judge Kelley and all the best to you!
Next Generation EFiling Stephen Dries, Clerk of Court, U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin
The District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin will update its CM/ECF system to NextGen CM/ECF (NextGen) this Spring. This will require filers to take steps to prepare for NextGen to continue to electronically file.
NextGen simplifies electronic filing by combining your CM/ECF and PACER accounts into a single Central Sign-On account. Through the PACER website, filers will use one login and password to electronically file in all NextGen courts where they have permission to file. You will no longer need a separate CM/ECF account for each NextGen court. All Federal Courts are expected to eventually adopt NextGen.
What should I do next?
Upgrade your PACER accountif you have not already done so. Each individual filer (not law firm) must have his or her own PACER account. Shared PACER accounts will not work with NextGen. Please note, PACER accounts created after August 11, 2014, are already upgraded accounts. Once the court converts to NextGen, you must link each of your login accounts to your PACER account to electronically file.
Annual Meeting & Presentation – Monday, April 15
Mark your calendars for the EDWBA’s Annual Meeting on Monday, April 15. This year’s event will take place at the Pfister, and the plenary session will feature a panel of experts discussing “The transformation of LGBTQ Rights in the Federal Courts,” in addition to enlightening breakout sessions for those whose interests or practices touches upon what happens in the federal courts. Check your mailbox for the invitation with all program details and registration information. Don’t miss this wonderful event!
Annual Meeting preview:
8:00 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast
8:30 a.m. Welcome and State of the Court Address
8:45 a.m. Plenary Session
The Transformation of LGBT Rights in the Federal Courts
10:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions
Hoping for the Best, but Planning for the Worst: Bankruptcy Pre-Planning Considerations
Injunctive Relief: To Move or Not To Move
After the Sentencing Hearing: Prison, Halfway Houses, and Supervision
11:45 a.m. Luncheon and Awards Presentation
Judge Robert W. Warren Public Service Award
Michelle L. Jacobs, Biskupic & Jacobs S.C.
Judge Dale E. Ihlenfeldt Bankruptcy Award
David W. Asbach, Assistant United States Trustee
Ruth LaFave Trailblazer Award
Nathan Oesch, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Be a Mentor!
The EDWBA is looking for member attorneys to participate in the Hon. Charles N. Clevert, Jr. Mentoring Program, now entering its seventh year. The mentoring program is linked to the Summer Youth Institute, a joint program of the EDWBA and the Marquette University Law School. The mentoring relationship begins in July at the Institute, which is an intensive and fun seven-day program designed to introduce middle and high school students to the legal system, expose them to careers in law, and provide them with practical tools for achieving their educational goals.
The mentoring program allows students to continue their exploration of a career in the legal profession, build on what they have learned at the Institute, and have ongoing communication with a practicing attorney. The program continues through the duration of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those students who successfully complete both the Institute and the mentoring program have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship in 2020.
Here is what past mentors have to say about their participation in the program:
Participating in the EDWBA mentorship program as a mentor has been a fun and rewarding experience. It is wonderful to see the growth in the mentees from the time they do their first oral arguments at the summer law institute, to the time they complete their internships in a professional environment. This program is truly remarkable for its ability to expose young people to the skills and contacts necessary to help them excel in college and beyond. (The experience has even improved my texting skills and knowledge of what’s hip these days! FYI, Taylor Swift is out; Ariana Grande is in). On a serious note, I encourage anyone looking to lend a hand to the next generation of lawyers to join in and help grow this unique mentoring opportunity.
-Laura Steele, U.S. Trustee’s Office
My time mentoring with the EDWBA Mentorship Program was a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone thinking about getting involved. My mentee, “Cat,” was an energetic and curious fifteen year old who fully embraced the program and wanted to learn as much as possible about the law. Throughout the year I took her to work with me at the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office where she got to watch a deposition, various legislative and court hearings, and even the beginning of a big trial at the federal courthouse. My mentee’s enthusiasm and questions about the legal profession reminded me of myself at her age and why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. The mentors get just as much out of the experience as the mentees, and it is a valuable program that I hope continues for years to come.
-Elleny Christopoulos, Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office