State Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks died Monday in his chambers at the Capitol, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack confirmed in a statement.
“Justice Crooks was an outstanding jurist, a thoughtful decision-maker and a colleague with a wonderful Irish sense of humor,” Roggensack said in a statement. “He was a good friend and colleague, and he will be greatly missed by all.”
Crooks, 77, attended a hearing at the Supreme Court earlier Monday but left early before being found dead in his office, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The cause of death is not yet known.
A Green Bay native, Crooks was elected to the state’s highest court in 1996 after almost 20 years as a Brown County circuit court judge. He announced earlier this month that he would not seek a third term on the bench.
After graduating from St. Norbert College and Notre Dame Law School, he served in the legal wing of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War before working as a practicing attorney and a professor of business law at UW-Green Bay until his election as a justice in 1978.
Crooks was considered a moderate, often serving as a swing vote on cases. Gov. Scott Walker could choose to appoint a replacement for his seat or wait until 2016, when Crooks’ term was set to end.
Crooks is survived by his wife and six children.