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Beer not seeking re-election
County’s longest-serving circuit court judge retires after 25 years to spend time with family
judge beer kelly
Green County Circuit Judge of 25 years James Beer announced Aug. 4 that he will not be seeking re-election in April. He endorsed Court Commissioner Peter Kelly as the county’s next circuit court judge. - photo by Shannon Rabotski

GREEN COUNTY — After 25 years, Green County’s Circuit Court is going to look different in 2021 after Judge James Beer announced Aug. 4 that he will not be seeking re-election in April.

Beer was first appointed to Branch 1 of the court in 1996 when former Judge David G. Deininger was appointed to the 4th District Court of Appeals. Beer was elected the following year in 1997 for a six-year term and was re-elected in 2003, 2009 and 2015.

He served as Green County’s longest ever circuit court judge.

A father of five, including a 13-year-old, Beer cited spending time with his family as his main push to retire.

“There comes that day when one knows it is time to retire and spend more time with family,” he said in his public statement.

Over his 25 years as judge, Beer saw many changes take place within the courthouse. For 12 years, he served as the only Circuit Court Judge before the county added a second. 

With the addition of a second judge, the county welcomed an entirely new Justice Center.

In closing his announcement, Beer added his endorsement of current Court Commissioner Peter Kelly as the next circuit court judge.  

Kelly has been practicing law for 36 years, and Beer said his experience and professional record are part of what drew him to urge Kelly to seek the position.

“I know he will carry out fair and equal justice for all the citizens of Green County,” Beer said. 

Kelly has had his campaign in the back of his mind for at least five years when Beer approached him about following in his footsteps.

“He knows me well, both as an attorney in his courtroom and as a court commissioner for both Judge Beer and Judge Vale for the past 10 years,” Kelly said.

The nonpartisan election will take place on April 6 and the ballot may see many familiar faces from the community alongside Kelly.

While Green County Clerk Arianna Voegeli said that, as of Aug. 5, the county has received no formal candidacies, multiple county attorneys have publicly expressed interest in the position.

Monroe City Attorney Dan Bartholf of Voegeli, Ewald and Bartholf Law Offices wanted to run in the 2009 election, but did not feel he had enough experience at that time. With 12 additional years under his belt, he plans on running for judge in 2021. 

“Now is the right time for me,” Bartholf said.

Monroe-based public defender Jane Bucher will also be found sharing the ballot in April. Bucher has worked as a public defender since 2011 and hopes to bring dignity and respect into the courtroom.

“You’re affecting the lives of the people that come into your courtroom,” she said, adding that she hopes everybody gets a chance to be heard and that there is dignity and respect for all.

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