WisBar News: Judge Pepper Testifies on Capitol Hill for Wisconsin’s Federal District Court Seat:

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  • Judge Pepper Testifies on Capitol Hill for Wisconsin’s Federal District Court Seat

    Joe Forward

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    June 24, 2014 – Judge Pamela Pepper testified today in a hearing before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary, another step in the nomination process to become judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

    Pepper, a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, has served as chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin since 2010. She was nominated to fill the district court post by President Obama in May. If approved by the Judiciary Committee, Pepper’s nomination will be decided upon a vote of the full U.S. Senate.

    In the judicial nomination hearing today, Judge Pepper was one of five female nominees who testified in consideration for federal judgeships. The U.S. Senators from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, both appeared in support of Judge Pepper’s nomination.

    Pepper is the second nomination with bipartisan approval from Baldwin and Johnson. Both approved the nomination of James D. Peterson as judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. He was confirmed by the full Senate in May.

    “Pamela’s intellectual curiosity, her demonstrated ability to learn new areas of the law, and efficiently administer her office has convinced me she would continue to excel in a new role as a federal district court judge,” Sen. Johnson said. “Judge Pepper has my full support and I am happy to recommend her to the Senate for swift confirmation.”

    “Judge Pamela Pepper has a distinguished career as a judge, a federal prosecutor, public defender, and an attorney in private practice, and I applaud the President for nominating her,” Sen. Baldwin told the panel. “She will continue her outstanding service on the bench and the people of Wisconsin will benefit from having this experienced and dedicated public servant as a U.S. District Judge.”

    Judge Pepper, a 1989 graduate of Cornell Law School, thanked her colleagues, friends, family, and staff before answering just one question posed by Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware. Senator Coons asked Judge Pepper to explain her judicial philosophy.

    “My judicial philosophy is what I would perceive to be the role of a good judge,” Judge Pepper said. “And that is to be a neutral party who applies the law to the facts and who is responsible for determining what the appropriate law should be, then listening carefully to each side giving fair weight to each sides’ arguments before making a determination.” She also noted the “importance of giving each side, or every party, the opportunity to be fully heard and to know they were fully heard before rendering a decision as well as to explain as clearly as I can the basis for that decision.”

    Judge Pamela Pepper

    Judge Pamela Pepper

    About Judge Pepper

    Judge Pepper obtained her undergraduate degree from Northwestern in Chicago. After graduating from Cornell Law School, she clerked for Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank J. Johnson Jr. She was a federal prosecutor in Milwaukee and Chicago from 1990 to 1997. She was also a solo criminal defense practitioner for eight years before her appointment to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2004. In 2010, Pepper became chief judge of the bankruptcy court.

    In 2004, she served as chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 52-member Board of Governors. She was also president of the Milwaukee Bar Association.

    Judge Pepper holds leadership roles for the National Conference of Bankrupcy Judges, the American Bankrupcy Institute, and is the associate editor for the American Bankrupcy Law Journal. She is also an instructor at the Federal Judicial Center.

    About the Federal Nominating Commission

    Judge Pepper was one of three candidates chosen by Wisconsin’s bipartisan Federal Nominating Commission, established in 1979 to make recommendations to U.S. senators for vacancies in federal judgeships and U.S. attorney positions. The State Bar of Wisconsin provides administrative support to the commission.

    Attorneys Michelle Behnke, Madison, and Paul Swanson, Oshkosh, co-chaired the commission for the Eastern District vacancy. William T. Curran, Richard Esenberg, Frederic Fleishauer, and Barbara Zack Quindel also served on the commission.

    U.S. Senators Baldwin and Johnson established the commission in 2013 after U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert Jr. announced his intent to take senior status.