Court of Appeals

Former judges

photo of Chief Judge Thomas CaneThomas Cane

District III (1981-2007); Chief Judge (1998-2007); Deputy Chief Judge (1989-1998); Presiding Judge (1984-1998)

Chief Judge R. Thomas Cane retired July 31, 2007 after his last nine years as the Chief, and 26 years as a member of the appellate court he joined in 1981.

Cane's legal career began far from Wisconsin, in Okinawa, where he served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps from 1964-67, after graduating from Marquette University Law School.

Rotating service between both prosecuting and defending servicemen in military trials during a tumultuous period, Cane saw the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam swell from 14,000 when he joined, to 240,000 by the time he left.

After several years in a general private practice in Kaukauna, and several more as an assistant district attorney in Outagamie County, Cane served as a circuit court judge from 1972 until his appointment to the court of appeals nine years later. 

As Chief Judge, Cane handled the administrative duties of the court, ensured that the workload of the judges was equalized by shifting cases between districts when necessary, and resolved any personnel problems.

As Chief, he was also a permanent member of the five-judge publication committee, which reviewed and decided which of the court's decisions would be published and become precedent. The rest of the membership of the committee changed periodically, with rotating members comprised of one judge from each of the court's four districts.

Cane was also a frequent author of articles concerning issues in Wisconsin law, with his last two articles in 2005 dealing with the troublesome economic loss doctrine.  He was also a frequent presenter on legal issues to both the Wisconsin judiciary and the State Bar at their seminars.  He received numerous awards from the Judiciary and State Bar for his writings and presentations.  While Chief Judge, he was very active in the National Council of Chief Judges, serving on its Education Committee and Executive Board.

In his own future, Cane looks forward to golfing, traveling, upland hunting, and fishing during his retirement.  He is also looking forward to going back to his first love as a trial judge—but this time in a reserve capacity, spending more time with his family, and serving on Wisconsin's recently formed Government Accountability Board with five other retired judges.

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