Judge of the Year Award
The Judge of the Year Award recognizes a jurist who has improved the judicial system during the past year through leadership in advancing the quality of justice, judicial education, or innovative programs.
This year’s recipient is Hon. John P. Anderson, Circuit Court Judge of single-branch Bayfield County.
Judge Anderson was jointly nominated by a prosecutor and a defender. The two concur that Judge Anderson “would not likely feel comfortable if one side of the courtroom nominated him,” so both joined together to share their firsthand experiences of the judge’s procedural fairness, innovativeness, selflessness, and notoriously strong work ethic.
In the 10th District, Judge Anderson dedicates much of his time to Bayfield County’s treatment court. As the judge himself sees, “Treatment court works. Our jail population is flat, and our caseload is down.” And when other counties need case load relief, his nominators note that he is the first one to step up and volunteer.
Judge Anderson was also the first in his family to go to college, attending Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. After graduating in 1989 from William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota, Judge Anderson passed the Wisconsin bar exam and joined a small firm in Washburn. After 14 years in private practice, he ran for the judiciary in 2003 and landed the lone seat. He says becoming a judge was “the best decision I’ve ever made.”
By his nominators’ glowing words, it appears the Wisconsin legal community concurs – and are grateful for his tireless advocacy and forward thinking. Long before safer-at-home restrictions necessitated the use of video proceedings, Judge Anderson initiated video court for initial appearances for the Red Cliff Tribal Court. As his nominators noted, “Judge Anderson is often thinking 5 to 10 years in the future.” In the present day, Judge Anderson is proactive in mentoring his colleagues, guest lecturing, participating in town hall meetings and rural community bus tours, advancing technology on a statewide level, and more.
On and off the bench, Judge Anderson is admired by his colleagues as a “true team player” and “a tireless advocate for the unique needs of Wisconsin’s northern rural counties.”