Alfred W. Newman (1834-1898)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1894-1898)
"On the bench he struck at once for the heart and justice of the case before him...In a trial his thought steered him through cobwebs and shams and enabled him to go right to the point." - J.W. Losey, Newman's memorial service (1898)
Alfred W. Newman was born April 5, 1834, in Durham, New York. At 13, Newman attended a trial where his father was called as a witness. It was then, Newman later explained, that he decided to become a lawyer.
Newman graduated from Hamilton College in 1857. He then studied in a private law firm and was admitted to the New York Bar.
In 1858, Newman moved to Wisconsin and settled in Trempealeau County. He practiced law and became a county judge in 1860. He held that position until 1867, when he was elected district attorney, a post he held for eight years. Newman was elected to the state Assembly in 1863 and to the state Senate in 1868 and 1869.
Newman was elected judge for the newly created 13th Judicial Circuit in 1876. He moved to the 6th Judicial Circuit in 1878 and served for the next 16 years. Attorney Burr W. Jones said of Newman's work in trial court: "There is no doubt that his long service as a circuit judge was to him a labor of love. On the circuit, he thoroughly enjoyed the study of human nature, the sharp contrasts between the tragedy and the comedy of life...."
Newman won election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1893 and began his term in 1894. Two years later, Newman suffered a stroke. Although the stroke left him slightly speech impaired and partially paralyzed for a few months, he recovered well and returned to work. On the morning of January 11, 1898, he slipped on a patch of ice while walking to the Supreme Court from his home. He suffered a skull fracture and died the next day.
Newman was married and had three children.