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Lynn Adelman

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Lynn Adelman
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #2T
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   12/23/1997 - Present
Preceded by:   Thomas Curran
Past post:   State senator, Wisconsin
Past term:   1977 - 1997
Past post 2:   Attorney in private practice
Past term 2:   1968 - 1997
Personal History
Born:   1939
Hometown:   Milwaukee, WI
Undergraduate:   Princeton U., 1961
Law School:   Columbia Law School, 1965

Lynn S. Adelman is an Article III federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Adelman joined the court in 1997 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.


Adelman was a graduate of Shorewood High School in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a school that also graduated former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Adelman received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, where he graduated cum laude in 1961. Adelman received a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he graduated cum laude in 1965.[1]

Professional career

  • 1977-1997: State senator, Wisconsin
  • 1968-1997: Attorney in private practice, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 1967-1968: Trial attorney, Legal Aid Society of Wisconsin
  • 1966: Law clerk, Richard H. Kuh, attorney in private practice
  • 1965-1966: Research assistant, Columbia University Law School[1]

Adelman served on the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee for the majority of his Senate career, as well as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Highway Safety committees.[2]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Wisconsin

On recommendation by U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, Adelman was nominated by President Bill Clinton on September 8, 1997, to a seat vacated by Thomas Curran. Adelman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 13, 1997, and received his commission on December 23, 1997.[1]

Bid for the Seventh Circuit

In 2009, Adelman applied to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, along with 10 others. The applications were reviewed by the Wisconsin Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, which made recommendations to U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold. The Senators then recommended candidates for nomination to President Barack Obama.[3]

Adelman was recommended by the Commission, along with Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Richard John Sankovitz, attorneys Dean Strang and Linda Clifford, and UW law professors Anuj Desai and Victoria Nourse.[4] Professor Nourse was ultimately nominated for the position.

Notable cases

Wisconsin voter ID law is struck down (2014)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Frank, et al v. Walker, 11-CV-01128)

On April 29, 2014, Judge Adelman ruled that Wisconsin’s voter identification law was unconstitutional, as it violated the Fourteenth Amendment as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.[5]

In the underlying case, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law in 2011 which required that voters present a state-issued photo ID at the polls. The law was enacted to crack down on in-person instances of voter fraud that allegedly existed within the state.[5]

In Judge Adelman’s ruling, he wrote that because “evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occur[red] in Wisconsin, the law served only as a unfair burden on indigent and minority voters.[5] Judge Adelman further stated that “it [was] exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation [would] become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future.”[6] In addition, Judge Adelman wrote that he would expedite any subsequent proceedings in the case in the event that the State’s Legislature attempted to amend it:[6]

Given the evidence presented at trial showing that Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to lack an ID, it is difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result.[7]

State Equal Rights Division Secretary guilty of racial discrimination (2010)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Johnny Kimble, v. Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, et al., 2:07-cv-00266-LA)

Judge Adelman presided in a case where former Wisconsin Equal Rights Division (ERD) employee Johnny Kimble sued former ERD Secretary Sheehan Donoghue. Kimble sued Donoghue for denying him pay raises based on racial and gender bias. The ERD is responsible in large part for investigating and adjudicating discrimination claims. On February 25, 2010, Judge Adelman found Donoghue liable and entitled Kimble to lost wages. In the opinion, Judge Adelman analyzed Donoghue's behavior using social research on discrimination, and commented that "in addition to failing to provide a credible explanation of the conduct complained of, Donoghue behaved in a manner suggesting the presence of implicit bias".[8]

Koss Co. executive guilty of $34 milion fraud (2010)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (United States, v. Sujata Sachdeva, 2:10-cr-00006-LA)

Judge Adleman was the presiding judge in the trial of former Koss Corporation Chief Financial Officer Sue Sachdeva. Koss is a popular headphone manufacturer. Sachdeva was charged with embezzling about $34 million from the company. According to reports, Sachdeva spent nearly all of the money of wild shopping sprees. Her attorneys argued that the binge spending stemmed from mental conditions, including a shopping disorder, diagnosed bipolar disorder, and alcoholism.[9]

Federal prosecutors sought a sentence of fifteen to twenty years, and the disgraced former executive's lawyers asked for six or seven, asserting that her compulsive shopping disorder warranted a lighter sentence. During sentencing, Judge Adelman commented that the sentence Sachdeva sought was "simply not long enough," and that "the loss amount is what makes this so serious." The judge said he considered Sachdeva's full cooperation with FBI investigators, and granted her some leniency. On November 17, 2010, Sachdeva was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison.[9][10]

Sachdeva's was the largest embezzlement case in the U.S. in 2009.[11]

Neo-Nazis, online death threats, and the First Amendment (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (United States, v. William White, 08-cr-851)

Judge Adelman presided over cases involving Neo-Nazi William "Bill" White, who founded and led the Virginia-based American National Socialist Workers Party. The white supremacist has long been known for testing the limits of free speech through his online postings, which are often in a gray area between protected speech and illegal death threats. White was charged for posting to his website the name, telephone numbers, and address of a member of a Chicago jury which convicted a fellow white supremacist in 2004. Prosecutors alleged that he published the information in the hopes that it would prompt his readers to harm the man. White did not directly threaten the juror, but wrote in a separate post that all those who helped convict his fellow white supremacist deserved to be assassinated.[12]

Initially, Judge Adelman dismissed the indictment against White. The judge held that because White broke no laws in obtaining the information he published, and because prosecutors had failed to prove any intent to threaten or cause harm to the man named, his actions were protected free speech under the First Amendment.[12]

Judge Adelman's ruling was later reversed on appeal, and the case allowed to go to trial. Subsequently, a Chicago jury found White guilty and sentenced him to prison. Adelman later reversed that conviction as well, for the same reasons, but was overturned yet another time.[13][14]

On February 20, 2013, Adelman sentenced William A. White to three and a half years in prison for soliciting violence against a juror; he was already in jail for other threats and intimidation offenses, and would serve his new sentence concurrently.[15]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Federal Judicial Center, "Biography of Lynn S. Adelman," accessed July 25, 2014
  2. Wisconsin Blue Book, "Judicial Biographies," 1995-1996
  3. Associated Press, "Judges, lawyers seek federal appeals court job," September 29, 2009
  4. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Adelman, Sankovitz among 6 recommended for federal job," November 16, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Huffington Post, "In-Person Voter Fraud Is Virtually Nonexistent, Federal Judge Rules," April 30, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 Associated Press, "Wisconsin Voter ID Law Rejected By Federal Judge," April 30, 2014
  7. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "State equal-rights official suffered discrimination, court rules," March 8, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Koss Corp. executive Sachdeva sentenced to 11 years in prison," November 17, 2010
  10. NBC News, "Ex-Koss exec gets 11 years for $34 million embezzlement," November 17, 2010
  11. Financial Express, "Indian expat in largest fraud case in US," November 17, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 Roanoke Times, "Charge against Roanoke neo-Nazi leader Bill White dismissed," July 22, 2009
  13. CBS Chicago, "Judge tosses white supremacists's conviction," April 20, 2011
  14. Southern Poverty Law Center, "Neo-Nazi Threat-Maker Bill White Gets More Prison Time," February 21, 2013
  15. WDBJ7, "Neo-Nazi Bill White sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for threats against juror," February 20, 2013
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Thomas Curran
Eastern District of Wisconsin
Seat #2T
Succeeded by:

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