June 6, 2018 – A judge since 1988, Kathryn Foster has seen many changes in how the court system functions. Retiring at the end of July, her legacy is a life in service to improving Wisconsin’s justice system.
Judge Foster of Waukesha County Circuit Court the recipient of the 2018 Judge of the Year Award from the State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee.
It is humbling, she said, to “know so many of the past recipients of the judicial awards,” Judge Foster said. “I’m really humbled and flattered to be in their company.”
Judge Foster will be honored at this year’s Annual Meeting & Conference in June at the Member Recognition Celebration.
A ‘Judge’s Judge’
“On the bench, she is known for her fairness and consideration,” said Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge William Domina, who nominated Judge Foster for the award. “She has a great knack for getting to the root issues in matters before her.”
Judge Domina says she is a “judge’s judge,” dedicated to helping new judges with the many issues they face. She serves as a faculty member and associate dean of the Wisconsin Judicial College – an organization that allows both new and experienced judges to learn from each other. “It’s mean to be very interactive,” Judge Foster said.
It is important, says Judge Foster, that judges have a ready network of peers to turn to for advice or just to talk to. “We make our decisions independently,” she said, “but it’s helpful to hear what others have done with similar cases. That’s important no matter how long you’ve been on the bench.”
Leadership and Insight
In 2006, Judge Foster advocated to initiate the Waukesha County Alcohol Treatment Court, which focuses on those with multiple drunken driving convictions.
Three years earlier, she saw one in action in Arizona – and knew that treatment courts would make a huge difference in Wisconsin. “It was love at first sight,” Judge Foster said. “I wanted to have that kind of information about the individuals who are struggling with addiction.”
The program, says Judge Domina, is now nationally recognized for its positive impact on reducing drunken driving recidivism.
Treatment courts are also one part of the puzzle to counter the “plague,” as she describes, of opioid addition. “That’s the beauty of treatment courts,” Judge Foster said. “They can be adjusted to meet the needs of the communities.”
“I hope to mix in continued work in the law – and personal pursuits of gardening and reading,” says Judge Foster.
Gaining the Wider Picture
Judge Foster is also a driving force behind the Waukesha County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council – which brings together professionals working in all aspects of the justice system, from police, to prosecutors and defense attorneys, to judges.
The council allows for a larger view of issues faced by the justice system. “You need to have a big picture, to find the best solutions,” Judge Foster said. “We need to know more than just what’s going on in our courtrooms.”
She also served on the board of the Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals. “Her work helped set the stage for the creation of drug, family, veteran, mental health, and healthy baby treatment courts across Wisconsin,” Judge Domina said.
Her judicial calendar is empty after July 31 – the date of her retirement, when an entirely new calendar begins. She intends to pursue mediation and spend lots of time in her garden – she is a Master Gardner.
“I hope to mix in continued work in the law – and personal pursuits of gardening and reading,” Judge Foster said. “I’m very excited about that!”
Join Us at the Annual Meeting & Conference in June in Lake Geneva
Join the State Bar of Wisconsin in honoring these additional award recipients at the Member Recognition Celebration on Thursday, June 21, at the State Bar 2018 Annual Meeting & Conference in Lake Geneva. Find out more about these award recipients.
Lifetime Jurist: Hon. Jeffery Kremers
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffery Kremers receives the State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee Lifetime Jurist Award. Read about the Lifetime Jurist, Judge Jeffrey Kremers.
Gordon Sinykin Award of Excellence: Hon. Brian Blanchard
Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV Judge Brian Blanchard, Madison, is the 2018 recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Gordon Sinykin Award of Excellence.
Outstanding Mentor: John P. Starkweather
John Starkweather, a partner in the Real Estate Practice Group at Boardman & Clark LLP in Madison, is the 2018 recipient of the Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Mentor Award. Read more about John Starkweather.
Outstanding Young Lawyer: Seep Paliwal
Seep Paliwal of Community Justice Inc., Madison, is the Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year. Find out more about Paliwal.
Hon. Charles Dunn Author Award: Daria Mueller
The Dunn Award winner is Daria Mueller, a Ph.D. student at U.W.-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, for her contributions to the article, “Under the Radar: Human Trafficking in Wisconsin,” in the October 2017 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer™ magazine.
Hotline Attorney of the Year: Shannon Conlin
The Hotline Attorney of the Year goes to Madison attorney Shannon Conlin (formerly Shannon Buttchen) of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), Madison.
Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Brenda Lewison
The Pro Bono Attorney of the Year is awarded to Brenda Lewison of the Law Office of Arthur Heitzer, Milwaukee.
Public Education Volunteer of the Year: Phyllis Santacroce
The award for Public Education Volunteer of the Year goes to Phyllis Santacroce of Nicolet High School, Glendale, for her dedication to law-related education. An attorney and high school teacher, she volunteered for many years as a mock trial coach.
Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney: Phil Rosenkranz
The award is given to Phil Rosenkranz, who dedicated his life’s work to serving those less fortunate. Rosenkranz practiced in taxation and bankruptcy law at Legal Aid Society in Milwaukee from 1995 until his untimely death in 2017.
Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker: Golla Calvillo
Golla Calvillo of Legal Action of Wisconsin, Racine is the recipient of the Public Interest Law Section’s Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award.
Outstanding Public Interest Law Students: Hanna Richerson and Jacob Haller
Hannah Richerson, U.W. Law School, is concurrently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environment and Resources, and is an active volunteer outside of law school.
Jacob Haller, Marquette University Law School, donates his time to Milwaukee Justice Center’s family law forms clinic and the domestic violence injunction hearings project.
Government Lawyers Division Service: Stephen Nick
The Government Lawyers Division’s inaugural Service Award goes to Stephen Nick, who has served as Eau Claire’s city attorney for more than 16 years.
Nonresident Lawyers Division Founder’s Award: Steven H. Schuster
Steven H. Schuster, U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C., is recipient of the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD) Founder’s Award.
Leonard L. Loeb Award: Irvin B. Charne
Milwaukee attorney Irvin B. Charne is the recipient of the Senior Lawyers Division’s Leonard L. Loeb Award for his lifetime of exceptional contributions to his community and to the goal of justice for all Wisconsin citizens. Find out more about Charne.