Diane Sykes

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Diane Sykes
Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Title:   Judge
Station:   Milwaukee, WI
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   8/24/2004 - Present
Preceded by:   John Coffey
Past post:   Wisconsin Supreme Court
Past term:   1999-2004
Personal History
Born:   1957
Hometown:   Milwaukee, WI
Undergraduate:   Northwestern U. '80
Law School:   Marquette U. Law '84

Judge Diane S. Sykes (b. 1957) is a federal judge on the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She joined the Court in 2004 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

Early life and education

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sykes grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer and graduated from Northwestern University, receiving her Bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1980. She received her J.D. from Marquette University Law School in 1984. Between college and law school, Justice Sykes worked as a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal.[1][2]


Sykes was a law clerk for federal judge Terence Evans, and later practiced law with the Milwaukee law firm of Whyte & Hirschboeck S.C.[1]

Judicial Career

Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Sykes was elected to the position of Circuit Court Judge in Milwaukee County in 1992. While as a circuit court judge, Sykes handled cases in the misdemeanor, felony and civil divisions.[2]

Wisconsin Supreme Court

In September of 1999, Sykes was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by former Governor and United States Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson as former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske resigned to become the interim Milwaukee County Executive.[2]

Seventh Circuit

On the recommendation of House Judicary Committee Chairman and Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Sykes was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2004 to a seat vacated by John Coffey. Sykes was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 24, 2004, on a Senate vote.[3][4]

27 Democratic Senators voted against her confirmation. Key notable "no" votes included Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, former New York U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, California U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstien, Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman, and Masschusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. However, former U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware voted to approve Sykes[5].

University of Toledo panel

At a symposium convened at the University of Toledo to discuss judicial selection, Judge Sykes noted "court races are now resembling legislative races, both in terms of rhetoric and their expense."[6]

Awards and associations

Notable cases

Judicial Philosophy

When Justice Steinmetz announced his early retirement in July 1999, Sykes expressed a desire to be considered as a replacement. As she related:

"I saw that the philosophical bent of the court was going to be an issue," she says. "I felt I had something to contribute in that area, as well." Throughout her judicial career, Sykes has adhered to a conservative judicial philosophy, which she describes as rooted in the principles of separation of powers and judicial restraint. "I will try very hard not to be a results-oriented jurist," she says, "who figures out how he or she wants the case to come out and then makes the law fit that result. Rather, I'll start at the beginning of the legal analysis and work outward from there."[7]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
John Coffey
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:

This page is missing notable case information.