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Aaron A. Nelson

Founding Attorney – Nelson Defense Group


Over his many years dedicated to Defending People Against the Power of the Government, Aaron has received numerous recognitions, including being named one of 50 Super Lawyers in Criminal Defense in Wisconsin (2011-2017), being AV rated by Martindale Hubbard, winning the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) “Martin Hanson Advocates Prize” a record five (5) times (2010, 2014, 2016, 2016, and 2017), and in 2014 he was honored with David Niblack Award from WACDL. The David C. Niblack Award was created to honor and preserve the memory of David Niblack, “an outstanding attorney who devoted his life and considerable talents to the defense of those who needed it but could not pay for it.” Recipients of the award are attorneys being recognized for contributions to the effective defense of the indigent, either through cumulative career contributions or through outstanding individual accomplishments.

Aaron also routinely presents to other attorney’s at numerous Continuing Legal Education courses throughout Wisconsin (Wisconsin State Public Defender Conference, Wisconsin State Public Defender Trial Skills training), WACDL, Barry Cohen’s annual OWI seminar as well as nationally at the National College of Criminal Defense.

Adam P. Nero

Attorney At Law


Adam is the only attorney in western Wisconsin to focus his entire practice on the defense of OWI/DUI charges.

He has been invited to provide training on OWI/DUI litigation to statewide audiences at the Wisconsin OWI Defense Seminar and the State Public Defender Trial Skills Academy, as well as to national audiences through the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). He also serves as the Wisconsin state delegate to the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). An authority on Wisconsin OWI/DUI laws, he has published related articles in the Wisconsin Law Journal in 2016 and 2017. He has twice completed the intensive curriculum in OWI/DUI defense at the National College for DUI Defense, held at Harvard Law School. In 2018, 2019, and 2020, he was selected as a SuperLawyers Rising Star, a distinction awarded only to 2.5% of lawyers in the State of Wisconsin.

Having now practiced in at least 60 Wisconsin counties, Adam would welcome the opportunity to defend OWI/DUI charges anywhere across the state.

Robert Maxey

Attorney At Law

Robert Maxey joined Nelson Defense Group after graduating from Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, WI, where he was named to the Dean’s List and earned The CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his outstanding work in Advanced Brief Writing.  Prior to law school, he attended The University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, where he double majored in Political Science and International Relations and was a member of the Honors Program. 

When it comes to legal writing and research, Robert is exceptional in both his talent and his creativity.  His impressive writing ability and depth of legal knowledge have garnered him recognition as one of the most talented young criminal defense attorneys in the state.  When it comes to Defending People Against the Power of Government, Robert is an invaluable asset for any client, in any case.

Deja Vishny

Of Counsel

Deja Vishny has focused her career on the defense of homicide and confession cases and was the Deputy Training Director and Homicide Practice Coordinator at the Wisconsin Public Defender until December 2018. She is a nationally known criminal defense trainer who has lectured for criminal defense associations, public defender offices, state bar associations and NGO's on defending confession cases, suppression and various aspects of trial practice in over 35 states and India.  She is on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College and served on the Boards of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section. She obtained acquittals, confession and eyewitness identification suppressions and dismissals in numerous homicides and other cases.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for the defense of the indigent accused.  In 2012, Deja was honored by the Wisconsin Law Journal with a "Women in the Law" award. She was named in SuperLawyers for several consecutive years.  She is an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School where she teaches trial advocacy.  She is the author of Suppressing Criminal Evidence, available from James Publishing.

Connie Berning

Legal Assistant


With over 25 years of experience as a Legal Assistant, Connie Berning has been an integral part of Attorney Nelson’s criminal defense team. Whether overseeing day-to-day operations, case management, or trial prep, Connie knows how manage a law firm and can assist Attorney Nelson through all phases of a case, so that he can focus his attention on the important matters in the courtroom.

Connie went to college for Court Reporting, but changed her career path when she realized she preferred helping people. Although Connie has focused the majority of her career on criminal defense, she also has extensive knowledge in family law and personal injury. Connie feels she’s always been fortunate to work for attorneys who not only appreciate good work, but also value family.

In addition to serving clients with compassion and keen insight, Connie is a strong believer in mentoring and community service. She volunteers for several veteran and youth organizations. Growing up on a dairy farm in Central Wisconsin, Connie knows how to work hard, which is seen in her loyalty to Attorney Nelson and dedication to clients. In her free time, Connie loves to cook, bake, sew, and work in her vegetable garden.

Mariah Vanasse

Legal Assistant

Mariah serves as legal assistant to Attorney Nero. Her work involves case management, coordinating Nelson Defense Group’s OWI/DUI practice, interacting with judicial assistants and court clerks, and providing knowledgeable support to Nelson Defense Group’s OWI/DUI clients. Her assistance is invaluable to Attorney Nero and enables him to focus his time and attention on litigation, both in and out of the courtroom. Mariah holds an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science-Paralegal from Chippewa Valley Technical College. She has previously served as a paralegal on a number of complex cases, including a number of homicide cases that have resulted in acquittals, in which her responsibilities included file organization, discovery review, trial preparation, and courtroom support. Mariah’s daily dedication to delivering the highest quality service and care to Nelson Defense Group clients makes her an indispensable part of the Nelson Defense Group team.

Courtney Westendorf

Legal Assistant

Courtney was excited to join Nelson Defense Group in 2019. With three years of personal injury experience, Courtney was eager to shift her focus to Criminal Defense. Courtney has very quickly proven herself to be a valuable asset to Nelson Defense Group. Courtney brings a strong work ethic and a passion to help people to her role as Legal Assistant to Brian Findley.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys fishing with her husband, reading, going to the movies, playing with her cats, and watching football.

Jeremy Kiekhoefer

Legal Assistant

With nearly 15 years of experience as a Legal Assistant, Jeremy Kiekhoefer joined Nelson Defense Group in November 2019 assisting with an extensive review of discovery and evidence, organizing documents, as well as creating summaries and chronologies of events and facts.

Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Hamline University.

In Jeremy’s free time, he enjoys reading, cooking and listening to blues music.


Steve Miller

Attorney at Law

Steve began writing appeals in 1985 as a student intern with the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Appeals Division.  From 1987 until 1994 he maintained a civil and criminal litigation practice with a heavy emphasis on appeals. Since 1996 his practice has been exclusively appellate. He has argued appeals in virtually every subject matter both civil and criminal.  Steve is also certified with the Wisconsin State Public defender in Levels 1, 2 and 3 (all criminal cases including 1st degree homicide), and has been at one time or another certified for Chapters 48 and 938 (Juvenile); Chapters 51 & 55 (Mental Health, Guardianship & Protective Placement); and Termination of Parental Rights. He was also on the Board for the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin for five years.  Steve offers his appellate services state-wide to both clients and trial lawyers. For clients he provides unmatched personal service. For lawyers his services are flexible to meet their precise needs including direct referrals, assistance and advice, or co-authorship.