Van Wagner & Wood Home Page
Van Wagner & Wood Attorney Chris Van Wagner Attorney Tracey Wood

Attorney Chris Van Wagner named to Super Lawyers, Wisconsin 2006

Dane County, Wisconsin survey of all attorneys names Chris Van Wagner one of Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers

Repeatedly Voted Madison's BestVan Wagner & Wood Criminal Defense Attorneys Will Defend You Regardless of the Criminal Charge

Attorney Christopher Van WagnerChristopher T. Van Wagner

Van Wagner & Wood, S.C.

Madison, WI 53701-00088

E-mail Chris | Free Online Case Review | Outlook Contact
E-mail VWW attorneys

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.

Super Lawyers has named Chris as one of Wisconsin's best criminal defense attorneys (in the top 5%) in Wisconsin. 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. In a recent survey of all Dane County, Wisconsin attorneys, Chris was one of a handful to be named Madison's Best. Repeatedly, both Van Wagner & Wood's attorneys have been chosen for this award.

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). Chris has also taught and lectured regularly at state and national trial skills seminars for lawyers.

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 (State, Federal, Felony, Misdemeanor)
Disorderly Conduct, Domestic Battery
Domestic Terrorism
Drug Crimes
Drunk Driving - OWI (DUI, DWI)
Federal & State Charges, Trial, Appeals
Felony Murder, Homicide, Negligent Homicide, Vehicular Homicide
Sex Crimes, Sexual Assault / Battery, Sexual Predator
White Collar Crimes, Fraud, Embezzlement

Litigation Percentage:

100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions:

State: Wisconsin State Bar, 1994
Federal: U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
Federal: U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin
Federal: U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit

Previous Bar Admissions:

State: New Jersey State Bar, 1981
State: Illinois State Bar, 1989
Federal: U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
Federal: U.S. District Court District of New Jersey
Federal: 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

Representative Cases:

State of Wisconsin v. Pintz - Acquitted
State of Wisconsin v. Barnard - Charges Dismissed
State of Wisconsin v. Meng - Acquitted
State of Wisconsin v. Covarrubias - Acquitted

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

The information at this site is not and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion. Nothing at this site creates an attorney-client relationship. Please read our full disclaimer.