Obama nominates Madison lawyer, not Rock County judge, for federal bench seat

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Rock County Judge Michael Fitzpatrick was not nominated by President Barack Obama to fill one of the longest-running judicial vacancies in the federal court history.

Obama nominated Madison lawyer James Peterson, leader of the Intellectual Property Litigation Working Group at Godfrey and Kahn.

The nomination was made Thursday for federal judge in Wisconsin's Western District Court in Madison. The position has been vacant for more than four years.  

Fitzpatrick and Peterson were among three finalists recommended for the position by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson in August. Also recommended was John Vaudreuil, U.S. attorney for the western district.

The bipartisan state Federal Naming Commission chose the three candidates in August after accepting applications in the spring. The commission is made of six state bar members. Baldwin and Johnson appoint three each.

Peterson teaches copyright law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. He graduated from the law school in 1998, going on to be law clerk for state Court of Appeals Judge Deininger from 1998-1999. 

If approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate, Peterson will fill the seat at the federal courthouse that has been vacant since January 2009.

Obama nominated former state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler for the position in 2009, but the Senate returned the nomination. 

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