On December 10 Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson announced that he will run for election to fill the circuit court vacancy created by Judge Stewart’s retirement. An election will be held to pick a new judge for the Dunn County Circuit Court, Branch 1, on April 1, 2014.
Peterson, 53, is a Menomonie, Wisconsin native and 1978 graduate of Menomonie High School. He graduated from the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1982. He earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin – Law School in 1985.
Peterson began his career in the private practice of law in Menomonie in 1985. He was hired by former Dunn County DA Michael Furnstahl as an assistant district attorney in 1988. Peterson was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson as Dunn County District Attorney beginning in January of 1989 and has served as district attorney since then. He has been elected/re-elected 11 times.
“I would like to serve as a circuit judge”, he said. “An opportunity to seek an open seat on the bench is rare.” Peterson said his 25 years in the district attorney’s office has prepared him well for serving as judge. He noted that both Judge Smeltzer and Judge Stewart previously worked in the DA’s Office. “Criminal cases are a big part of the circuit court case load. I have tried over 200 jury trials including a number of intentional homicide cases. I have handled thousands of cases in a wide variety of matters. My courtroom experience would be a tremendous asset as judge.” Peterson said that in addition to having a wealth of experience he is someone the public knows and can count on for upholding the rule of law while protecting the constitutions and the public.
The race for circuit judge is a nonpartisan spring election which Peterson says is a change he welcomes. “I have never done my job on a partisan basis so I would be truly honored to officially serve in a nonpartisan role.”
Peterson, who lives in Menomonie, says now is a good time in his life. “My kids are grown and I have the time to dedicate to being a good judge”, he said. Peterson has three children; Angela Yecke, 28; Trevor Peterson, 26; and Jamie Peterson, 19. Peterson said he enjoys serving as district attorney and would like to continue in that role if not elected judge. “In my 25 years of being district attorney I have never forgotten who I work for. I would continue to serve the public with the same mindset if elected judge.”