May 8, 2014 – The U.S. Senate today confirmed Wisconsin attorney James D. Peterson to fill a vacant judicial seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Peterson is a 1998 graduate of U.W. Law School and shareholder at Godfrey & Kahn S.C. in Madison. He’ll wind down his practice before taking the bench.
President Barack Obama nominated Peterson in November 2013 and the Madison attorney sat for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing in January 2014.
"I appreciate the confidence that President Obama has placed in me with this nomination, and I am gratified by the Senate's confirmation," Peterson said in a statement after the Senate vote today.
"I look forward to joining the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, which has a well-earned reputation for speed and fairness. I have big shoes to fill, but I will have great colleagues to learn from. Chief Judge Conley, Judge Crabb, and Magistrate Judge Crocker have already welcomed me. With their help, the Western District of Wisconsin will continue to follow Rule 1, which is to provide the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of every matter," Peterson added.
"I also thank everyone at Godfrey & Kahn, my professional home for the last 15 years, for their friendship and support," Peterson said.
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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, makes remarks on the Senate floor with regards to the nomination of James D. Peterson to the Western District of Wisconsin.
Peterson was one of three candidates nominated by Wisconsin’s Federal Nominating Commission, which makes recommendations to U.S. Senators for vacancies in federal judgeships and U.S. attorney positions. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, the U.S. Senators from Wisconsin, ultimately recommended Peterson for the post.
“I appreciate all the hard work of those serving on our federal nominating commission, and I thank my colleague, Sen. Baldwin, for working with me on creating a successful bipartisan process,” said Sen. Johnson in a press release. “The result is the selection of a well-qualified jurist, James D. Peterson, who will serve the nation and the people of Wisconsin’s western district well.”
"Addressing vacant federal judgeships in Wisconsin has been a top priority for me since I was sworn in to the Senate last year," Sen. Baldwin added in the joint press release. "I am proud to have worked with Senator Johnson to put in place a nonpartisan Federal Nominating Commission and a process for moving judicial nominations forward because the people of Wisconsin deserve to have experienced and qualified judges working for them. James Peterson will be an outstanding U.S. Federal District Judge and his experience, qualifications and expertise will serve the Western District of Wisconsin well."
Peterson is a member of Godfrey & Kahn’s litigation and intellectual property practice groups. After law school, he clerked for Judge David Deininger of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Before obtaining his J.D. degree, he was a faculty member at University of Notre Dame, where he taught film and television history.
In addition to his J.D. degree, Peterson holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from U.W.-Madison. He also earned a Ph.D. degree in communications from U.W. in 1986.
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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin, makes remarks on the Senate floor with regards to the nomination of James D. Peterson to the Western District of Wisconsin.
Peterson is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin and served on State Bar’s Communications Committee from 2000 to 2008 (chair 2003 to 2005).
State Bar of Wisconsin President Patrick J. Fiedler extended his congratulations. “I have no doubt the federal district bench will benefit greatly by the addition of James Peterson," Fiedler said. "On behalf of the State Bar, congratulations to attorney Peterson, and all the best in this next chapter.”
About the Federal Nominating Commission
Attorneys Michelle Behnke, Madison, and Paul Swanson, Oshkosh, co-chaired the Federal Nominating Commission for the Western District vacancy, left open by the retirement and subsequent passing of U.S. District Judge John Shabaz. The seat has been vacant for the last five years.
William T. Curran, Richard Esenberg, Frederic Fleishauer, and Barbara Zack Quindel also served on the Federal Nominating Commission, established in 1979 by Senators William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. The State Bar of Wisconsin provides administrative support to the commission.