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Judge James Beer Will Not Seek Re-election, Endorses Kelly


August 13, 2020

Photo submitted

Peter Kelly and Judge James Beer.

Judge James Beer has officially announced that he will not be seeking another term as Circuit Court Judge for Green County in 2021. Beer was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson to fill a vacancy created by Judge David Deininger, who was appointed to the position of Judge of the Court of Appeals. Beer's 25 years of service to Green County is only second to Judge Brooks Dunwiddie, who served for 40 years as a county judge.

"As I took office, Green County was a one-judge circuit and was either number one or number two in the state as the busiest circuit in Wisconsin. I served as the sole judge handling that caseload for my first 12 years in office," reflects Beer. "We worked with county board chairmen Tom Daley and Arthur Carter to get a second circuit judge for Green County, along with Senator Howard Marklein and Representatives Mike Powers and Brett Davis. For the reasons given above, a new Justice Center was built to accommodate a second circuit judge. This construction was supported by the Green County Board. The new Justice Center was designed not only to accommodate current needs while increasing security for the public as well as the court staff and the officers. It was also designed for potential expansion in a way that this historic courthouse sitting in the center of the historic downtown square was not."

Beer was also instrumental in creating Green County's Drug Court. Beer, along with Jeb Searls and Bob Gibson, formed a committee including members of the Green County Board, Green County Sheriff's Department, the Public Defender's office, and the District Attorney's office, as well as Human Services and the Department of Probation and Parole.

"It took many months to develop this program and to write for grants to fund it, so that local taxpayers did not have to pay for it out of their property tax," explained Beer. "To date we have received several million dollars in grants to operate the program and have graduated many individuals from the program, reuniting them with their families and helping them live a drug free, productive life within the community. We must thank Senators Marklein and Ringhand, along with Representatives Novak and Spreitzer for their support in acquiring our first grant which made Drug Court possible."

As for his retirement, Beer commented, "I am going to miss the daily schedule as a circuit judge, dealing with both the problems of society as well as the rehabilitations of individuals in drug court and presiding over happy events such as marriages and adoptions. But there comes that day when one knows it is time to retire and spend more time with family." Beer also thanked his wife, Olga, and their five children for their support.

At the end of his announcement, Beer relayed his support for Peter Kelly in the April 2021 election.

"In closing, at this time, I am officially announcing that I will not be seeking another term as circuit judge for Green County in 2021. I also, at this time, wish to announce that at my urging Court Commissioner Peter Kelly will be seeking the office of Circuit Judge for Branch 1 and I wish to endorse his candidacy for that position, as I know he will carry out fair and equal justice for all the citizens of Green County and continue our Drug Court."

Peter Kelly has been a practicing attorney for 36 years and currently serves as a Green County Circuit Court Commissioner. He is also a Master's level mental health and substance abuse counselor. Kelly and his wife, Christine, raised their five children on their Town of Sylvester farm.

Kelly holds several advanced degrees, and served as a law clerk for Milwaukee County Judge Marvin Holz during his time at Marquette University Law School. He's been active in the Green County community, including time as President and Treasurer of the Green County Bar Association, past Chairman of the Board of Green County Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Past St. Victor Parish Council President, Trustee and CCD Teacher, Past Board Member of Rainbow Child Care, Past Board Member of the Green County Historical Society, and is a member of the Green County Facility and Security Committee, a 3rd Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Green County Healthy Communities Coalition: AODA/Heroin Sub-Committee, as well as a frequent Drug Court observer.

Kelly stated, "One advantage of my 36 years of courtroom experience in Green County is I have repeatedly seen how excellent Judges run their courtroom, provide kind and just results for Green County citizens, and consistently maintain the public's great confidence in our judicial system."


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