"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Italics indicate direct quotes from the application. Typos, including punctuation errors, come from the original application even though we have not inserted “(sic)” after each one. WJI has left them as is.
Name: Ann M. Peacock
Appointed to: Dane County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Aug. 2, 2023 (term ending July 31, 2024) (running unopposed for reelection in April 2024)
Law School – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Undergraduate – University of Wisconsin-Platteville
High School – Whitefish Bay High, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Recent legal employment:
March 2019-present – Unit director, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Madison, Wisconsin
March 2018-March 2019 – Deputy unit director, Wisconsin Department of Justice
January 2009-present – Assistant attorney general, Wisconsin Department of Justice
September 2003-December 2008 – Associate, Foley & Lardner, Madison, Wisconsin
Bar and administrative memberships:
State Bar of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. District Court-Minnesota (admission pro hac vice)
General character of practice:
I have been a civil litigation attorney for 20 years. In that time, I have been lead counsel for hundreds of civil cases in state and federal courts. My litigation experience has involved all potential stages of a case.
In my current role as Unit Director of DOJ's Civil Litigation Unit, I manage a 45-position unit with a high-volume caseload in a diverse range of practice areas, including civil rights, employment, eminent domain, administrative law, higher education law, torts, medical malpractice, subrogation, worker's compensation, and open government. Each year, the Civil Litigation Unit opens approximately 2,000 new matters, including approximately 850 court cases. In overseeing this work, I make strategic and efficient decisions in assigning and monitoring litigation of the matters.
Describe typical clients:
During my employment at Foley & Lardner, I focused on commercial litigation and employment law. My clients in those cases were typically businesses and employers.
During my employment at DOJ, I have focused on civil rights, torts, and employment law. My clients in those cases are typically state agencies and state employees who have been sued for acts or omissions within the scope of their employment.
Number of cases tried to verdict: I have tried approximately 20 jury trials to verdict.
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
Counts v. Schneider, et al., ED Wis. Case 2013-CV-0518
My role: Lead counsel for defendants
Dates of involvement: 02/2014-08/2018
Brief description of involvement: I litigated the case from service of the complaint to jury verdict. Litigation included significant discovery, summary judgment filings, and pretrial filings. At trial, I conducted several witness examinations and gave the closing argument.
Significance: This was a complex federal jury trial that included a dozen witnesses and sophisticated plaintiff’s counsel. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
Allgood v. Hert, et al., WD Wis. Case 2017-CV-0812, ED Wis. Case 2019-CV-0832
My role: Lead counsel for defendants
Dates of involvement: 1/2018-03/2019 & 6/2019
Brief description of involvement: I litigated most of the case as the only defense counsel on the case. I was reassigned to the case just before trial. At trial, I conducted several witness examinations and gave the closing argument.
Significance: There were several logistical challenges necessitating attorney reassignments and a last-minute change of venue. I volunteered to be lead trial counsel less than one month before trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
May v. Heschke, ED Wis. Case 2018-CV-1452
My role: Co-counsel for defendants
Dates of involvement: 6/2021-7/2021
Brief description of involvement: At trial, I conducted several witness examinations and gave the closing argument.
Significance: The jury returned a verdict in favor of the sole defendant. I used this trial as a training opportunity for a new Assistant Attorney General. He has since successfully served as lead trial counsel in at least five jury trials. This case was also significant because it was one of DOJ's first post-COVID trials and included logistical challenges.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies:
I have litigated employment law matters venued in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
Describe your non-litigation experience (e.g., arbitration, mediation).
In the last five years, I have worked with Wisconsin Department of Justice staff and state agencies to settle approximately 300 cases. As part of that work, I have participated in scores of mediations with magistrate judges and other mediators.
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: n/a
Previous runs for public office: n/a
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last ten years: n/a
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Western District of Wisconsin, Merit Selection Panel, June-July 2022
Wisconsin Judicial Council, Evidence and Civil Procedure Committee, 2016-2018
Western District of Wisconsin Bar Association, president, vice president and secretary, 2015-2018
Seventh Circuit Committee on Pattern Civil Jury Instructions, Section 1983 Subcommittee, 2012-2017
Girl Scouts of Badgerland, product sales coordinator, 2014-present, and troop leader, 2014-2019
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service:
While in private practice from 2003-2008, I worked on cases for the Wisconsin Innocence Project. One major case I worked on was State v. Chaunte Ott. I started the Wisconsin Innocence Project investigation of the case while I was a law student in the fall of 2001. When new DNA evidence was disclosed to the Wisconsin Innocence Project in 2007, I assembled a team of attorneys at Foley & Lardner to work on the post-conviction motions as co-counsel with the Wisconsin Innocence Project. We filed briefs in the circuit court and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. In December of 2008, the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial. Mr. Ott, who had been serving a life sentence for homicide, was released from prison and the District Attorney's office dropped the charges.
Why I want to be a judge:
It has been my privilege to serve the people of Wisconsin for the last 14 years, and my appointment as a judge would be a further extension of that service.
I am passionate about making positive differences in the lives of others. In my current role, one of the ways I do that is by using fairness and compassion as guideposts in my interactions with clients, colleagues, and adversaries. However, my ability to make positive differences is necessarily constrained by the adversarial nature of litigation. I want to use my guideposts of fairness and compassion to their fullest potential, and I believe that service as a judge will allow me to do that.
Another reason I am interested in being a judge is the intellectual challenge of learning different areas of law. While in private practice, I focused on commercial litigation and employment law. During my first ten years at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, I focused on civil rights, torts, and employment law. In my current role as Unit Director of DOJ’s Civil Litigation Unit, I have expanded my legal knowledge and skillset to many other areas: eminent domain, administrative law, higher education law, medical malpractice, subrogation, worker's compensation, and open government. As a judge, I would embrace the opportunity to continue to learn new areas of law and to interact with more members of the legal community.
Describe which case in the past 25 years by the Wisconsin Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court you believe had a significant positive or negative impact on the people of Wisconsin.
The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al. has negatively impacted the people of Wisconsin in innumerable ways. Many United States Supreme Court decisions have minimal impact on the day-to-day life of the general public. Dobbs is not one of them.
I see the impact on physicians who cannot use the entirety of their training and expertise to treat their patients. I see the impact on friends who have endured compounded levels of trauma by being forced to carry non-viable pregnancies for several more weeks because of the overbooked schedules of medical providers across state lines. I see the impact on friends who are members of marginalized groups and are justifiably anxious about what other rights may be hanging on by the slimmest of margins. And I see the impact on my teenage daughter who wonders why women are suddenly unable to make their own medical decisions.
The emotional, physical, and financial impacts of Dobbs will continue to be felt by a significant portion of Wisconsin’s population until we are again at a place where timely and comprehensive medical care is available to everyone, regardless of their gender.
Two or three judges whom I admire and why:
I admire Judge Barbara Crabb on several levels. I first met Judge Crabb when I interned in her chambers during my third year of law school. She is brilliant, kind, and down-to-earth. She was not elitist, but rather worked with her clerks as a team. When we drafted legal opinions, she took the time to provide constructive criticism that we could then use in future first drafts of opinions in similar cases. After finishing my internship, I took her lessons and put them into practice. Before her retirement, I was lucky enough to litigate dozens of cases in front of Judge Crabb. Her courtroom demeanor was second to none. She ran her court with efficiency, fairness, and patience. The legal analysis in her written decisions was both complex and clear. It was a privilege to work in Judge Crabb’s chambers and to appear before her as an attorney.
I also admire Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Few of us currently practicing law can envision a time when the gender of a top graduate of a top tier law school precluded the graduate from easily securing a position upon graduation. Fortunately, Justice Ginsburg was persistent and her subsequent appellate work in the 1970s resulted in several groundbreaking victories for women’s rights. After her confirmation to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg continued to serve as a role model for aspiring attorneys and she continued to develop the law by authoring watershed opinions that extended women’s rights. Put simply, Justice Ginsburg was instrumental in laying a solid foundation for future generations of women. Without Justice Ginsburg and others like her, my daughters would not live in a world where they do not second-guess their ability to strive for any career of their choosing.
The proper role of a judge:
The proper role of a judge is to render fair and impartial decisions after thoroughly reviewing the law and considering arguments of the litigants.
Participants in the court system are often at one of the lowest points in their lives. Even if a litigant does not get the legal result they are seeking, litigants should feel seen and heard. At a time when public trust in the judiciary is at a critical juncture, it is imperative that judges take the time to listen and fully consider the import of the words they choose in both open court and written opinions.
With respect to a judge’s role in presiding over hearings and trials, it is important for a judge to be prepared by reviewing applicable filings before the start of the hearing or trial. Preparation preserves finite court resources and leads to more robust legal analysis. A judge’s role during hearings and trials should be to maintain order and to ensure that only proper evidence is admitted.
When rendering decisions in both court proceedings and written opinions, it is the judge’s role to consider the arguments of the parties, to interpret the law, and to apply the law to the facts of the case. In undertaking all of their judicial tasks and rendering impartial decisions, a judge should operate with fairness and compassion as guideposts. I will bring those guideposts to my service as a judge if I am fortunate enough to be appointed to the bench.
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