Doyle appoints new Dane Co. Circuit Court judges - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Doyle appoints new Dane Co. Circuit Court judges


MADISON (WKOW) -- Late Wednesday afternoon, Governor Jim Doyle announced his picks to replace a trio of outgoing Dane County Circuit Court Judges.

Doyle appointed private attorney Nick McNamara; administrative law judge Peter Anderson; and former prosecutor and current deputy corrections secretary Amy Smith.

Doyle made appointments because three judges resigned mid-term.   A fourth judge retired, with his successor recently elected.

With a total of only 17 judges in Dane County, the governor's action was welcomed as critical to keeping the system moving forward.

"Juvenile court has deadlines, criminal court has deadlines,"   court administrator Gail Richardson told 27 News.   "There could be a speedy trial demand."

Smith's bid was opposed by veteran assistant state public defender John Tradewell.  

In a letter to the governor's appointments director, Tradewell called Smith "...someone who would stop at nothing to gain an advantage."

Tradewell cited a past case in which appellate judges noted Smith had lied in court while prosecuting a drug dealer.

But a half dozen others, including Dane County sheriff David Mahoney supported Smith.  

Retired prosecutor Ann Sayles called Smith fair and just.   "Amy would make an outstanding trial judge,"   Sayles wrote.

27 News reviewed letters submitted in reference to nine finalists for the open judge positions.   Tradewell's letter about Smith appeared to be the only signed letter of concern submitted in reference to any of the finalists.   One unsigned letter also expressed concerns over Smith's fitness for the bench.

Doyle passed over Karie Cattanach, an assistant dane county district attorney, despite letters of endorsement from Mahoney, district attorney Brian Blanchard, several defense attornies, and a half dozen current and former judges, including resigning judges Steven Ebert and Diane Nicks.

The appointed judges will have to run for election once the terms they inherit run out.

Earlier this year, attorney Julie Genovese won an election to fill the other dane county judicial vacancy.

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