President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Madison lawyer James Peterson to fill a long-standing judicial vacancy on the federal court in Madison.
Peterson, who leads the Intellectual Property Litigation Working Group at Godfrey & Kahn in Madison, was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of U.S. District Judge John Shabaz, who died in 2012.
Shabaz went on medical leave in February 2008 after announcing his retirement the prior fall but never returned to the bench. His retirement was effective in January 2009.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb retired four years ago and was replaced by Judge William Conley, but Crabb has remained on the bench to help manage the district’s caseload.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, praised Peterson’s nomination.
“Mr. Peterson will make an outstanding federal judge, and his nomination marks an important step forward in filling a judgeship that has been vacant for nearly six years,” Baldwin said in a statement. “Mr. Peterson’s experience and expertise make him an outstanding choice for the position. I am hopeful that the Senate will consider and confirm his nomination without undue delay.”
Peterson is the second lawyer nominated by Obama for the post. Obama had previously nominated former state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, but his nomination was rebuffed in the Senate.
Peterson is a 1998 graduate of the UW-Madison Law School. From 1998 to 1999 he was law clerk to state Court of Appeals Judge David Deininger. He currently teaches copyright law at the law school and speaks often on intellectual property issues.
Prior to his law career, Peterson taught film and television history at the University of Notre Dame. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Ph.D. from UW-Madison.
Peterson was one of three lawyers recommended to Obama by Baldwin and Sen. Ron Johnson. The others were U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil and Rock County Circuit Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick.
The U.S. District Court in Madison is a hotbed of intellectual property litigation, drawing cases involving companies with few ties to Wisconsin, because it is one of a few in the nation known for having an accelerated calendar that assures cases can be heard quickly.