Isham would be the first LCO member and first woman to serve as a Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge if elected
LCO Submitted News Release
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (LCO) Tribal member and attorney Monica M. Isham is running for the newly created Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 2 in the April 4, 2023 election. Isham is the only candidate with approved ballot access by the Wisconsin Election Commission, and if elected, she would be the first LCO member and the first woman to serve as a Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge.
Isham grew up on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation in northwest Wisconsin, graduating from Hayward High School in 2007. She has been a fancy shawl dancer since she could walk and was even crowned LCO Tiny Tot Princess in 1992. Also at an early age, Isham became an avid basketball player and was a standout for the Hayward Hurricanes. After high school, Isham attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where she received her Bachelor of Science with a double major in Political Science and Public Administration and a minor in Public Policy.
Isham received her Juris Doctorate from Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was sworn into the State Bar of Wisconsin in August 2015. She was very involved with volunteer legal assistance programs and was inducted into the law school’s Pro Bono Honor Society in 2014 for providing several hours of free legal services. She served as the President of the Children and Family Law Society and was an intern for Judicial Court Commissioner Dolores A. Bomrad of Washington County and the Honorable Frederick C. Rosa, Milwaukee County Family Court Judge. Isham also mediated Small Claims cases in Milwaukee County which earned her a certification in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
After law school, Isham worked as an Associate Attorney for Dallenbach, Anich & Wickman, S.C. in Ashland where she was elected Vice President of the Ashland/Bayfield County Bar Association and received a license to practice law in Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Court and Bad River Tribal Court. In 2018, Isham became the attorney for the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Child Support Program, and in 2022, she secured a position as the Deputy Attorney General for Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
Isham’s volunteer work and giving back to the community is extensive. As a single mother of three young children who are students in the Hayward Community School District, Isham coaches her children in soccer for the Hayward United Soccer Club and volunteers as a member of the Hayward Primary School Parent and Community Advisory Committee (PAC). She volunteered at the Lincoln Avenue Boys & Girls Club where she coached 3rd through 5th grade basketball throughout law school, interned with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, served as a judge for the Hayward Musky Festival Queen Pageant, and is a frequent speaker or emcee for events and ceremonies.
In 2018, Isham was elected Vice Chairperson of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University and has since enjoyed the opportunity to have a role in her community’s education. She is also a member of the Gitchi Movin’ Board, an organization focused on providing opportunities for the community to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. She is particularly fond of the Annual Alumni Basketball Game held on March 25th at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe school in cooperation with Hayward and Winter school districts.
The 2023 spring election will be the first time Sawyer County will be having an election for a second judge position, known as Branch 2. Sawyer County has had only one judge. The Honorable John M. Yackel, who currently sits as Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 1, has worked tirelessly to advocate for a second judge for the County.
“I am thrilled there is an election for a second Branch,” said Isham. “I have a lot of respect for Judge Yackel and we have always worked well together. I believe that I have the right energy and skill set to help Judge Yackel tackle the high volume of cases in Sawyer County.”
If elected, Isham will be breaking ground for women and LCO members as she would be the first woman and LCO member to serve as a Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge. Isham’s experiences as an LCO member growing up on the reservation in Sawyer County and attending Hayward Community School District have made her very familiar with the division seen in the community. “If elected, I would be honored to serve our whole community,” said Isham. “Being a woman and LCO member is important in that I can add a unique perspective to the bench and provide some balance. I believe that education, inclusiveness, and representation will bring healing for all.”