Attorney Michael Devanie

experienced criminal defense attorney Michael Devanieemail:

voice:(608) 784-8055 in La Crosse

Civil Rights Practice

A co-founding partner of the law firm, Attorney Michael Devanie leads the firm's civil rights practice. Mr. Devanie has more than thirty years experience in litigation at both the trial and appellate level and has successfully argued cases in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Attorney Devanie concentrates his legal practice on Civil Rights. Civil Rights law is a complex and constantly changing practice area covering the diverse assortment of rights and freedoms guaranteed every United States citizen and resident by federal, state, and local laws and constitutions.

Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, 2016

Attorney Devanie was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2016 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in his practice area of Civil Rights Law. The "Best Lawyers in America" ranks the top 4% of practicing Attorneys in the US based on an exhaustive peer review survey and inclusion is considered a singular honor.

Practice Areas

  • Civil Rights
  • Criminal Defense
  • Personal Injury

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin - 1979
  • United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin - 1979
  • U.S. Supreme Court - 1983
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit - 1997


  • Juris Doctor: Vermont Law School, 1977
  • Bachelor of Science: Illinois State University, 1973


  • Partner, Devanie, Belzer & Schroeder
  • District Attorney for Rusk, Barron, and La Crosse Counties, 1979-1987
  • United States Army, 1969 - 1971 (Viet Nam Veteran)

Reported Cases

  • King v. Kramer 763 F3d 635 (7th Cir. 2014) Following oral argument, the 7th Circuit Court Appeals reversed the district court's unfair grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for a jury trial. (Opinion available on Google Scholar.)
  • King v Kramer et al. 680 F.3d 1013 (7th Cir. 2012) Following a second oral argument, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals again reversed the trial court because it had unfairly instructed the jury on the constitutional standard applicable resulting in an unfair trial and remanded the matter for a new jury trial before a new judge. The case then settled. (Opinion available at Google Scholar.)
  • Mombourquete v. Amundson 469 F.Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Wisconsin 2007) (Read opinion at In this case Monroe County denied Plaintiff the constitutional right to medical care leading to severe brain injury. After briefing by the Parties the district court agreed with the Plaintiff and denied the defense motions for summary judgment and the case resulted in a settlement which awarded the Plaintiff $13.1 million dollars.
  • Lawson v. Trowbridge et al, 153 F.3d 368 (7th Cir. 1998) This case was first tried in federal district court to a jury which found that Monroe County had violated the constitutional rights of the Plaintiff, a disabled veteran suffering from schizophrenia whom they kept isolated in solitary confinement for more than a month because of his mental illness but without access to his medications or medical care. As a result of the trial judge's incorrect jury instruction, the jury awarded damages of $1.00 (nominal damages). Following oral argument the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court because it had incorrectly instructed the jury on damages. At the second trial, before a new judge and jury which was properly instructed, that jury determined the Plaintiff was entitled the $5.4 million dollars in damages for the extreme harm he had suffered as a result of the unconstitutional denial of medical care. (Opinion available at Google Scholar.)
  • State v. Keyes 750 NW 2d 30, 309 Wis 2d 516 (Wisconsin Supreme Court 2008) Following oral argument by Attorney Devanie, supported by an Amicus Curiae brief and arguement on behalf of the Wisconsin General Contractors Association, The Associated General Contractors of Milwaukee and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, the Supreme Court agreed with the Keyes that Wis Stats 779.02(5) did not stand for the proposition that building contractors or subcontractors may not receive a profit on a project until the project is completed.
  • State v. Speese, 199 Wis. 2d 597, 545 N.W. 2d 510 (1996) - oral argument
  • State v. Mechtel, 176 Wis. 2d 87, 499 N.W. 2d 662 (1993) - oral argument
  • State v. DeSantis, 155 Wis. 2d 774, 456 N.W. 2d 600 (1990) - oral argument
  • State v. Brastrud, 204 Wis. 2d 445, 555 N.W. 2d 662 (1996)
  • State v. Lindwig, 205 Wis. 2d 100, 555 N.W. 2d (1996)
  • State v. DeSantis, 151 Wis. 2d 504 445 N.W. 2d 331 (1989)

Memberships and Associations

  • American Association for Justice