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Dane County judge to retire; governor will appoint successor

Dane County judge to retire; governor will appoint successor

Gov. Tony Evers, who has appointed three judges to vacant or soon-to-be vacant Dane County judicial seats this month, will get another opportunity after another judge announced his retirement in a letter to Evers Monday.

Circuit Judge Peter Anderson, who has been on the bench for 11 years after his appointment by then-Gov. Jim Doyle, told Evers he plans to retire from Branch 17 effective Aug. 2. His current six-year term ends in 2022.

“It has been my great honor to have served the people of Dane County alongside my fellow judges,” he wrote, “and to have worked with the Branch 17 staff, as well as Clerk of Courts personnel, the office District Court Administrator, the court’s bailiffs and the many others who ensure the safe and efficient functioning of the Dane County Circuit Court.”

Anderson never worked in the court’s criminal rotation and heard criminal cases only during preliminary hearings as the weekly duty judge. He worked almost exclusively in the juvenile and civil rotations, hearing cases that involved a variety of legal disputes and family matters.

“I have learned a great deal from this experience, and leave with the overarching sense that our courts are capable of providing access to justice predicated on a foundation of impartiality, fairness, dispassion and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law,” Anderson wrote to Evers.

He praised his judicial colleagues and his staff, and the many attorneys who have appeared before him.

In early June, Evers appointed Court Commissioner Mario White to lead Branch 7, following the retirement of Judge William Hanrahan. Less than a week later, he appointed attorney Jacob Frost to Branch 9, to replace outgoing Judge Richard Niess, whose retirement is effective at the end of this week.

And just days after that, Evers appointed outgoing state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, to replace Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky, who was elected in April to the state Supreme Court.

Anderson closed his letter by reflecting on “law, courts and democracy generally.”

“These are all human institutions,” he wrote, “and as such, are necessarily flawed. In certain aspects, for much of our nation’s history, they have been deeply flawed. Nevertheless, based on my experience as a judge, a lawyer and a citizen, I remain convinced these institutions provide the bedrock of self-government and ordered liberty and deserve to be both cherished and safeguarded.”

Anderson earned his law degree at Harvard University and spent much of his legal career with the state of Wisconsin, first as an assistant attorney general, then as an administrative law judge for the state Division of Hearings and Appeals.

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