Van Wagner & Wood | Criminal Defense Lawyers Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys Christopher (Chris) Van Wagner & Attorney Tracey Wood Madison Wisconsin Wisconsin State Capitol Building Steeple
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Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers: Madison Magazine, poll of Dane County Attorneys names Chris Van Wagner Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

Super Lawyers names Chris Van Wagner Super Criminal Defense Lawyer, Wisconsin 2006

Defendant confesses, Chris Van Wagner gets him acquitted


Attorney Christopher Van WagnerChristopher T. Van Wagner

Van Wagner & Wood, S.C.

Madison, Wisconsin 53701-00088
E-mail Chris | Free Online Case Review

In practice since 1981, Christopher T. Van Wagner brings a wide mix of knowledge, background and unique personal experience to each case. These include the lessons learned and instincts developed while growing up one of 11 children born to a middle class Irish Catholic New Jersey couple; the topnotch education and training he received attending an Ivy League law school (Cornell Law '81, Law Review Editor) and then clerking for a federal district judge (Hon. Dick Debevoise, D.N.J., '81-82); the boardroom manners observed and absorbed working for Fortune 500 clients in his years at a world-renowned Chicago-based corporate law firm (Mayer Brown, on LaSalle Street); and, most significantly, the ingrained courtroom sense and solid jury trial skills he honed while trying more than 50 felony jury trials to verdict as a state prosecutor (in Trenton, N.J.), cases ranging from welfare fraud to rape to homicide.

In 1991, he moved to Wisconsin to become a federal prosecutor. In a short time, he tried several federal conspiracy cases to verdict. Chris left the government in 1994, and now devotes his professional time, effort and energy exclusively to defending people accused (or convicted) of serious crimes and drunk driving offenses. In that time, Chris has tried and won some high-profile trials, including several homicide cases.

The Dane County defense bar honored Chris as "Warrior of the Year" when Chris won an acquittal on behalf of a particularly difficult client (an ex-district attorney) in an attempted murder shooting case. The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) has three times awarded Chris the Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize a statewide honor for his repeated victories in homicide cases. Chris has also taught and lectured regularly at state and national trial skills seminars for lawyers.

He has served as guest commentator on Court TV with anchor Nancy Grace, who now also hosts the Larry King show. He has also been a criminal law commentator on the Dan Abrams Report on MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, ABC Madison Channel 27 and Madison Channel 3000 (C3K).

The attorneys of Dane county have repeatedly voted for Chris as one of a handful of Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, Madison Magazine). Super Lawyers of America has recognized Chris as Super Criminal Defense Lawyer, Wisconsin 2006.

Even though Chris has permanently resettled to Wisconsin, he remains an equally permanent and often rabid New York Yankees fan.

Areas of Practice:

Criminal Defense
Disorderly Conduct, Domestic Battery
Domestic Terrorism
Drug Crimes, Federal Charges & State Charges
Drunk Driving - OWI (DUI, DWI)
Federal & State Charges, Trial, Appeals
Felony Murder, Homicide, Reckless Homicide, Vehicular Homicide
Property Crimes, Theft, Vandalism, Arson, Fraud
Sex Crimes, Sexual Assault / Battery
Reckless Driving
White Collar Crimes, Fraud, Embezzlement

Litigation Percentage:

100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions:

Wisconsin, 1994
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit

Previous Bar Admissions:

New Jersey, 1981
Illinois, 1989
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court District of New Jersey
U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit


Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York, 1981

St. Lawrence, 1978 (St. Lawrence University)
Major: English and Literature

Classes/Seminars Taught:

  • Teaching Faculty, Wisconsin Public Defender Trial Skills Academy (Lake Delavan, Wisconsin)
  • Teaching Faculty, NITA Trial Skills Programs (Northwestern Law School, Chicago)
  • Former Speaker, Wisconsin Criminal Defense and Other Bar Seminars

Honors and Awards:

Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2007
Super Lawyer, Criminal Defense, DUI, White Collar Crimes, Wisconsin 2006
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2005
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2003
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2001
"Warrior of the Year," Dane County Criminal Defense Bar, 1999

Professional Associations and Memberships:

Dane County Bar Association

Wisconsin State Bar Association

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer

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