Supreme Court

Former justices

Roland J. Steinle (1896-1966)

Roland J. Steinle

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1954-1958)

"[His] every action gave evidence of his strength of purpose and inherent sense of right and justice." - Gregory Gramling, Jr., Steinle's memorial service (1973)

Roland Joseph Steinle was born March 21, 1896, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shortly after the death of his father, Joseph. Steinle attended high school at Marquette Academy.

Steinle entered Marquette University Law School in 1914, but postponed his studies in 1917 when he became one of the first Marquette students to volunteer in the U.S. Army. While in the service, his closest friends were Theodore G. Lewis, John E. Martin and Edward J. Gehl, all of whom later became justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

After the war, Steinle returned to Marquette and earned his law degree in 1920. He practiced law in Milwaukee until 1940, at times serving as a special assistant district attorney of Milwaukee and Forest Counties. On January 2, 1940, Steinle was appointed judge for the Milwaukee County circuit court. He was elected in April of that year and was re-elected in 1945 and 1951.

In December 1953, Steinle was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He was elected to a 10-year term in April 1954. In what was considered a surprise move, he resigned from the bench in March 1958 to become the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against William Proxmire. Steinle lost the election. He returned to private practice and served as a circuit court commissioner in Milwaukee, where he remained until his death.

Steinle was one of the few jurists known to be involved in murder trials as a prosecutor, defense attorney, circuit judge and appellate judge. He loved to teach young lawyers about the law. He worked hard and excelled as a trial lawyer and as a jurist. In his free time, he enjoyed gardening and fishing.

Steinle was married to Helen Sharpe. They had three children: Roland, with whom Steinle practiced law in the years before his death, Betty and Rosemary. Helen died in December 1953, just one week after Steinle's appointment to the Supreme Court. In 1963, Steinle married Helen's sister Nancy.

Steinle died on December 22, 1966.

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