Feb. 14, 2014 – Wisconsin’s Federal Nominating Commission has chosen a Milwaukee lawyer, a federal bankruptcy judge, and a Milwaukee circuit court judge as candidates to fill a judicial vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Named today in a joint press release from U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, the nominees are: Beth Kushner, of von Briesen & Roper S.C., Milwaukee; Pamela Pepper, chief judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; and William Pocan, a judge for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
The opening results from the departure of U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert Jr., who moved into senior status on the court. The names will now go to President Barack Obama, who will appoint one to fill the judicial vacancy. Obama’s appointee must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate after a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a press release, the U.S. Senators from Wisconsin praised the work of the Federal Nominating Commission and the State Bar of Wisconsin, which provides administrative support to the commission:
“I appreciate all the hard work by the bipartisan Judicial Commission and State Bar to help examine the highly qualified candidates that applied to serve the state of Wisconsin as a Federal Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “I especially want to thank Senator Baldwin for working with me in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion. We have now successfully worked together to fill two important judicial vacancies for the citizens of Wisconsin."
“The filling of judicial vacancies has been a top priority for me since I was sworn in to the U.S. Senate last year,” Baldwin said. “The people of Wisconsin deserve to have these vacancies filled and this is an important step forward in providing Wisconsin with highly qualified public servants who will work hard for them in our judicial system. Each of the nominees Senator Johnson and I are recommending to President Obama are experienced, highly qualified, and would make an outstanding federal district judge.”
About the Nominees
Attorney Beth Kushner specializes in complex litigation and handles an array of business and commercial disputes at Von Briesen in Milwaukee. She graduated from the Virginia Law School in 1979, and earned admission to the State Bar of Wisconsin in 1980.
Kushner, who obtained her B.A. from the University of Milwaukee in 1975, also handles product liability, fraud and RICO cases, antitrust disputes, and class actions. Kushner served as assistant general counsel to Rexnord Corporation before joining von Briesen.
The Hon. Pamela Pepper was appointed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District in 2005, and has served as chief judge since 2010. She obtained her law degree from Cornell Law School in 1989 and obtained Wisconsin admission in 1995.
Pepper clerked for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals after law school and 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 bench.
The Hon. William Pocan has served as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County since his appointment in 2006 (election in 2007). He currently works in the felony division.
Pocan, who grew up in Kenosha, graduated from U.W. Law School in 1984 and worked as a private practitioner for 22 years before his appointment to the circuit court bench.
About the Nominating Commission
Wisconsin’s bipartisan Federal Nominating Commission is charged with making recommendations to U.S. senators for vacancies in federal judgeships and U.S. attorney positions.
The commission was established in 1979 by Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson, and the process has endured since then.
Attorneys Michelle Behnke and Paul Swanson co-chaired the Commission for the Eastern District judicial vacancy. Other commission members are William T. Curran, Richard Esenberg, Frederic Fleishauer and Barbara Zack Quindel.