By Brandi Makuski
Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he has appointed a local attorney to replace Portage Co. Circuit Court Branch I Judge Thomas B. Eagon.
Eagon retires in July. Zell will complete a term ending July 31, 2023.
Zell has been practicing law across Wisconsin for the past 24 years. He began his career as an assistant state public defender in Racine Co., then worked for a private firm before opening his own law practice in Milwaukee in 2002. He moved his practice to 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 Co., 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 counties, representing clients in criminal, juvenile, and termination of parental rights cases.
Evers called Zell a “highly-respected lawyer” who will make an excellent judge for the people of Portage Co.
Retired Portage Co. Judge Thomas Flugaur also had glowing remarks, saying Zell had all the qualities to be an “excellent” circuit court judge.
“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,” Flugaur said in a statement to the press.
Zell lives in Stevens Point with his family and is a graduate of the UW–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 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.”
Eagon began his public service in Portage Co. as an assistant district attorney in 1988. He ran for district attorney in 1995 and continued in that role until 2012.
Eagon’s last day is July 3.