Johnson, Baldwin recommend Wisconsinites for federal district court

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Wisconsin's U.S. senators recently announced their joint recommendation that the White House consider three Wisconsinites for the federal bench in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R, and Tammy Baldwin, D, recommended Beth J. Kushner, Pamela Pepper, and William S. Pocan, who were backed by a bipartisan federal nominating commission established last April.

Johnson, in a news release, said, "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.

He added, "I especially want to thank Senator Baldwin for working with me in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion."

Baldwin, in the announcement, said, "The filling of judicial vacancies has been a top priority for me since I was sworn in to the U.S. Senate last year. 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.”

Kushner, a partner at von Briesen & Roper, handles complex litigation and construction law, according to the senators' release. She has close to 30 years of litigation experience where she has handled a range of business and commercial disputes, product liability claims, fraud and RICO cases, antitrust disputes and class actions.

Kushner has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2007, and has been listed in Wisconsin SuperLawyers since 2005 and as one of their Top 25 Women Lawyers since 2011.

She is one of two Wisconsin attorneys in Benchmark Litigation's "Top 250 Women in Litigation," is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and has a rating of AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. 

Before joining von Briesen, Kushner served as assistant general counsel for Rexnord Corporation in West Milwaukee and Brookfield.
She's a 1975 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 1979 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Pepper is the chief judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Pepper is a member of the Association for Women Lawyers, the American Bar Association, State Bar of Wisconsin, Seventh Circuit Bar Association, Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, Milwaukee Bar Association, NACTT Academy for Consumer Bankruptcy Education, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and American Bankruptcy Institute.

Previously, she served on the board of Federal Defender Services and the State Public Defender.

She is a former president of the Milwaukee Bar Association and former chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin's Board of Governors.

She also serves as faculty member for the Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Practice Institute.

Before taking the bench, Pepper worked in private practice as a criminal defense attorney, representing clients in federal and state court. Between 1990 and 1997, Pepper was a federal prosecutor in Chicago and Milwaukee.  From 1989 to 1990, she clerked for the Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pepper is a 1986 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1989 graduate of Cornell Law School.  She also obtained a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from Marquette University in 2003.

Pocan is a circuit judge in Milwaukee. He currently presides over the felony division.
For more than 20 years, Pocan worked at Jastroch & LaBarge, S.C. in Waukesha, where he first represented corporations and other business entities in the area of commercial litigation and later represented individuals in the area of consumer law.
Pocan is currently a member of the Wisconsin Court System’s Planning and Policy Advisory Committee, the Wisconsin Trial Judge Association Board of Directors, the Milwaukee Bar Association, and the Thomas E. Fairchild American Inns of Court.

Pocan has also been a member of the Legislative Committee of the Judicial Conference, the Judicial Conference Nominating Committee, the Adoption & Out of Home Care Committee of the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council, the Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee on the Review of Spousal Maintenance Awards in Divorce Proceedings, State Bar of Wisconsin Consumer Protection Committee, State Bar of Wisconsin Public Interest Section, and the Milwaukee Bar Association Civil Bench/Bar Committee.

For many years, Pocan has been involved with organizing and presenting at Continuing Legal Education seminars put on for lawyers by such groups as the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bar Association and other organizations, and has been a guest speaker at the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University law schools.
In 2006, Pocan was appointed to the circuit court, where he presided over juvenile and then civil cases before his latest move to the federal division.
Pocan is a 1977 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Pocan received an American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law while at the University of Wisconsin.