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The Third Branch

April elections bring four new judges to bench

Four new judges won election and two incumbents held on to their circuit court seats in the April 1 spring election. One of the winning judges has already been appointed by Gov. Scott Walker to fill the office early.

Judge James M. Peterson

Judge James M. Peterson

In Dunn County, District Atty. James M. Peterson defeated private practice Atty. Christina M. Mayer. Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the UW Law School. He has also served as an assistant district attorney in Dunn County and worked in private practice. Walker appointed Peterson to begin his term early to fill the vacancy that was created by the retirement of Judge William C. Stewart Jr. from the Branch 1 bench (see The Third Branch fall 2013).

Florence/Forest County Circuit Court Judge Leon D. Stenz retained his seat after a challenge from Robert A.P. Kennedy Jr., who had served one term as Florence/Forest County Circuit Court judge before being narrowly defeated by Stenz in the 2008 election. Kennedy had originally been elected to the judgeship in 2002, after defeating Stenz in that challenge. Prior to 2002, the seat was held by Kennedy's father, Judge Robert A. Kennedy Sr.

In Jefferson County, Judge David J. Wambach won his first full term after defeating private practice Atty. Joann L. Miller, who also serves as a judge on the Central Jefferson County Municipal Court. Wambach was appointed in June 2013 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jacqueline R. Erwin (see The Third Branch winter 2013). Prior to his appointment, Wambach served as assistant attorney general for the Criminal Litigation Unit.

Judge-elect Laura Gramling Perez Judge-elect Vicki L. Clussman Judge-elect Janet C. Protasiewicz

Judge-elect Laura Gramling Perez

Judge-elect Vicki L. Clussman

Judge-elect Janet C. Protasiewicz

Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Laura Gramling Perez defeated Commissioner Cedric Cornwall for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 32 seat, which will become vacant due to the retirement of Judge Michael D. Guolee. Guolee will be retiring at the end of his term.  A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Michigan, Perez has also worked in private practice.

In Waupaca County, Judge Keith A. Steckbauer was defeated by Assistant District Atty. Vicki L. Clussman. Steckbauer was appointed in January to replace retired Judge John P. Hoffmann (see The Third Branch winter 2014). Clussman is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire and William Mitchell College of Law. She has served as assistant district attorney for Waupaca County since 1987.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Atty. Janet C. Protasiewicz ran unopposed for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 24 seat made vacant by the retirement of Judge Charles F. Kahn Jr. (see The Third Branch fall 2013). Protasiewicz has served as assistant district attorney since 1988. She also serves as an adjunct law professor at Marquette University, where she received her law degree.

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