Walworth County Judge John Race retiring

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Gazette staff
Friday, September 27, 2013

ELKHORN--The governor's office is accepting applications to fill the term of Walworth County Judge John Race, who is retiring Dec. 30.

"I'm 78. I don't want to be carried out feet first," Race said Friday.

He submitted a letter to the governor's office Tuesday announcing his intent to retire.

Race has served on the bench for 29 years after being appointed by Gov. Tony Earl in 1984. He ran for election one year later, surviving a primary and general election. He has not been challenged in an election since.

"My term is up July 31, 2015. I didn't plan on running again because judicial elections are very costly now," Race said.

The governor's office on Friday issued a solicitation for attorneys to apply for appointment to Race's bench seat. The deadline for applications is Friday, Oct. 11.

The person appointed will be required to run for election within a year, Race said.

He has encouraged family court commissioner Kristine Drettwan to apply for appointment, he said.

He said he does not know what other attorneys might be interested.

Before his appointment in 1984, Race practiced law in Elkhorn for 17 years. As a judge, he rotated between the criminal, civil and family courts every two years.

He's been on the family court bench since Aug. 1.

"That's the most unpleasant branch of court a judge can serve in ... because of the bickering," Race said. "And then they put the kids in the middle and bicker about that.

"I just got through being angry and kicking people out of the courtroom just simply because they're bickering and they're using me to beat each other up," he said.

Race said he'll miss hearing interesting cases.

"It's the excitement or the pressure or how to handle a case. What's going on. The intrigue and tension. The drama of a lawsuit. I'll miss that, but I won't miss the bickering.

"If you go into a felony murder, every question I have to listen to very carefully. Medical malpractice cases have the best lawyers and witnesses in the country if not the world. It's like watching a very good movie. Trials are great listening. I"ll miss the trials." Race said.

Race said he would like to serve as a reserve judge.

"Maybe they won't let me because they think I'm too goofy," he said.

He thanked the residents of Walworth County for their support.

"It's just been a great 29 years," he said. "I want to leave on a high note in good health."

He said he and his wife plan to travel after his retirement.

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