Jessa Nicholson Goetz
Atty. Jessa Nicholson Goetz is the founding partner of Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., and is widely regarded as one of the most skilled sensitive crimes defense attorneys in the State of Wisconsin. While Nicholson handles all types of state criminal charges, her focus has been on defending individuals accused of what can be the most controversial and serious crimes in our justice system - sexual assault (of both adults and children), homicide, attempted homicide, and child abuse.
Nicholson has extensive jury trial experience, and has had great success obtaining "not guilty" verdicts in dozens of cases, including charges of 1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Child, 2nd Degree Sexual Assault of a Child, 2nd Degree Sexual Assault - Use of Force, Aggravated Battery, 1st Degree Reckless Injury, and a number of other charges. Nicholson is particularly proud to have been twice awarded the Martin Hanson Memorial Advocate's Prize by the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL), which is only given when an attorney receives a complete acquittal in a homicide case. Nicholson won a Restricted Controlled Substance - Homicide charge in 2013 and was the architect of the innovative Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity defense that led to NGI verdicts for a Dane County double homicide in 2015.
In addition to the national media attention Nicholson's 2015 double homicide trial brought, she has handled a number of high profile cases and is comfortable navigating the often complicated relationship between an accused person and the press. Nicholson has handled several cases that have garnered widespread media attention. Nicholson's work has been discussed in The New York Times, she has been quoted as a legal expert in the Wall Street Journal as well as locally in both Wisconsin television and print media. Feature articles have been written about Nicholson in both the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times, and she authored a column for Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine in 2013 discussing the challenging topic of representing an "unpopular" defendant in a high profile case.
Nicholson has been honored in her field by receiving a number of awards, including:
- Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Warrior Award, 2010 and 2015, given for particularly outstanding work in criminal cases;
- Martin Hanson Memorial Advocate's Prize, for receiving not guilty verdicts in homicide cases in 2013 and 2015;
- Super Lawyer designation, demonstrating she has been voted to be in the top 5% of criminal defense attorneys in the State of Wisconsin by her peers;
- Best Criminal Defense Attorneys List, Madison Magazine.
In addition to receiving praise from colleagues, Nicholson is regularly asked to teach Continuing Legal Education courses for other attorneys in her field. Nicholson has taught courses for the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Wisconsin State Public Defender, the Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association, the Wisconsin State Bar, and has guest lectured at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Nicholson is a faculty member at the Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer's Trial College, and has recently been the faculty member that teaches on what is arguably the most dynamic part of a trial - closing arguments. Nicholson has been asked by Dane County judges to sit on committees to reform treatment courts in Wisconsin.
Nicholson has also had substantial success litigating pre-trial motions, receiving favorable rulings with respect to piercing rape shield law, suppressing evidence, severing crimes/charges, and excluding prior bad acts, all of which have served to protect her clients' rights to a fair trial.
Nicholson is highly regarded by her clients, as well. A small sample of client testimonials speaking to Nicholson's work can be found here.
Nicholson is a member of the Wisconsin bar and belongs to a number of organizations, including:
- Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL); board member with voting ability;
- Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (DCCDLA); Vice President;
- Dane County Criminal Defense Project; Coordinator
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; member;
- Dane County Bar Association; member.
Nicholson graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, with undergraduate degrees in Economics and History of Art (2003.) Nicholson made the Dean's List and graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin - Madison Law School in 2006.
When Nicholson isn't working, she still finds herself drawn to criminal law and legal issues. Nicholson coached high school mock trial for a number of years, and now acts a "judge" in both mock trial and moot court proceedings at the high school, college, and law school levels. She has acted as a consultant and received editorial credit from the hit audio drama podcast Deliberations, and hosts a popular legal podcast along with Nicholas Gansner, Getting Off. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, James, and their two dogs, Avon and Alibi.
You can reach her at [email protected], or by calling 608-237-6854.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Defense
- Family Law
- Wisconsin, 2006
- University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, Wisconsin
- J.D. - 2006
- Honors: cum laude
- Honors: Dean's List - 2003
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- B.A. - 2003
- Honors: magna cum laude
- Major: Economics
- Major: History of Art
- Jury Selection in the Age of the #MeToo Era
- "For The Defense”, a quarterly publication by the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Faculty , WACDL’s Trial College
- Teacher, Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Teacher, Wisconsin State Public Defender
- Teacher, Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association
- Teacher, Wisconsin State Bar
- Guest Lecturer, University of Wisconsin Law School
Honors and Awards
- Super Lawyers
- Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Warrior Award, 2010 and 2015
- Top 40 Under 40, The National Trial Lawyers, 2014
- Named One of Wisconsin's Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association, 2014
- Martin Hanson Memorial Advocate's Prize by the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL), 2013 and 2015
- Best Criminal Defense Attorneys List, Madison Magazine
- Women Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Top 25
- Madison Top 25 Lawyers, Super Lawyers
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member, 2006 to Present
- Dane County Bar Association, Member, 2006 to Present
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member
- Dane County Criminal Defense Project, Coordinator
- Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (DCCDLA), Vice President
- Wisconsin Bar Association, Member