Wisconsin Senators Recommend Judicial Nominees to White House for Wisconsin’s Eastern District Court

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin announced today their agreement to recommend to the White House three Wisconsinites for consideration to fill the open U.S. Federal District Judgeship for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The candidates, Beth J. Kushner, Pamela Pepper, and William S. Pocan, were among those recommended by a bipartisan Federal Nominating Commission that the Wisconsin Senators established in April 2013 to move federal nominations forward, including vacant federal judgeships in Wisconsin.

“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,” Johnson said.  “I especially want to thank Senator Baldwin for working with me in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion.  We have now successfully worked together to fill two important judicial vacancies for the citizens of Wisconsin.”

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

Last April, Johnson and Baldwin established the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission. Most recently, the Commission advised the Senators on the nomination for the open U.S. Federal District Judgeship for the Western District of Wisconsin. In August, the Senators announced their agreement to recommend three individuals to President Obama for consideration. In November, James D. Peterson was nominated by the President, and last week, Peterson’s nomination passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. That nomination will now move to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote.

For a copy of the Wisconsin Senators’ letter of recommendation to the White House, click here.

Candidates for U.S. Federal District Judgeship for the Eastern District of Wisconsin


Beth J. Kushner is a partner at von Briesen & Roper, where she handles complex litigation and construction law. 

Mrs. Kushner has close to 30 years of litigation experience where she has successfully handled a broad range of business and commercial disputes, product liability claims, fraud and RICO cases, antitrust disputes, and class actions.  Mrs. 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 only 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. 

Prior to joining von Briesen, Mrs. Kushner served as Assistant General Counsel for Rexnord Corporation in West Milwaukee and Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Mrs. Kushner is a 1975 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and 1979 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.


Pamela Pepper is the Chief Judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Judge 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.

Judge Pepper recently wrote a short series of columns for the American Bar Association’s bankruptcy litigation e-newsletter focused on common evidence issues in bankruptcy litigation and has completed two terms as an associate editor of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal. She has served on the Human Resources Advisory Council of the Administrative Office, currently serves on the OSCAR working group for the Administrative Office, and speaks at Federal Judicial Center programs.  She is a frequent speaker for other bankruptcy organization on topics such as the rules of evidence in bankruptcy, the intersection of criminal and bankruptcy law, and litigation skills. 

Prior to taking the bench, Pamela Pepper worked in private practice as a solo criminal defense practitioner, representing clients in federal and state court. During this experience, the Milwaukee Bar Association awarded her for assisting in creating the “Solo But Not Alone Breakfast Group.”  Between 1990 and 1997, Judge Pepper was a federal prosecutor in Chicago and Milwaukee.  From 1989 to 1990 she clerked for the Honorable Frank M. Johnson Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge 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.


William S. Pocan is a Circuit Judge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He currently presides over the felony division.

For more than 20 years, Judge Pocan worked at Jastroch & LaBarge, S.C. in Waukesha, Wisconsin, 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.

Judge Pocan is currently a member of the Wisconsin Court System’s Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC), the Wisconsin Trial Judge Association Board of Directors, the Milwaukee Bar Association, and the Thomas E. Fairchild American Inns of Court. Judge Pocan has also been a member of the Legislative Committee of the Judicial Conference (Vice-Chair), 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 Judge 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, William Pocan was appointed to the Circuit Court, where he presided over juvenile and then civil cases before his latest move to the federal division.

Judge 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.

An online version of this press release can be found here.