"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Anna L. Becker
Appointed to: Jackson County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Aug. 28, 2014
Law School – Hamline University School of Law
Undergrad – University of Minnesota
High School - no information provided by applicant
2007 - present – Jackson County court commissioner, family court commissioner
2007-2013 - Law Office of Anna Becker
1999-2006 - Jackson County district attorney (did not seek re-election to a fifth term)
State Bar of Minnesota
Wisconsin State Bar
U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Family Court Commissioners Association
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Experience in criminal litigation and civil litigation; handled family law, guardian ad litem work, ChIPS cases, guardianships. Worked extensively on a city flodwall project by doing real estate condemnation for levee improvements following a flood.
I began my career assisting the City Attorney...Village Attorney who was a partner in my law firm. I tried numerous civil forfeiture cases in that capacity. In addition, I did collections actions for Northern Christmas Tree Growers and Nursery and handled divorces and other civil and criminal cases. ...
I was elected District Attorney after a 1998 campaign with two opponents. As District Attorney I spent a great deal of time working with law enforcement agencies prosecuting criminal cases and traffic forfeitures. As one of the two attorneys in our small office I was in the courtroom on a daily basis and gained very valuable experience. I worked as a self employed attorney part time after my children were born.
Later appointed family court commissioner.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, more than 13; non-jury, "too many to count."
Number of cases on appeal: Most, if not all, of the cases appealed during my tenure as DA were handled through the AG’s office, not ours. We may have handled a very small handful of appeals but I do not recall any of significance.
Describe the two most significant cases you have hear as a judicial officer.
I really cannot think of any particularly significant cases as most of the matters I preside over are pretty routine. One that stands out as a bit odd is a small claims pro se case (09SC519). The parties were each offered a turn to present evidence to the court. After at least a half hour, I summarized what I thought each party was attempting to prove. Both agreed that I had it correct.
When I then asked them what their problem was because it essentially sounded like they were in agreeent with the facts and what they each wanted, they agreed that they had no issue and the case was settled. It was very bizarre.
Professional or civic organizations, volunteer activities, service in a church or synagogue, or any other activities or hobbies that could be relevant or helpful to consideration of the application:
Pro bono legal work:
As FCC I routinely assist pro se litigants in finding the correct forms to use and the legal process, but I am prohibited from providing them with legal advice. In 1997 I participated as a presenter on estate planning at a program sponsored by a local bank for the community. For numerous years I assisted the judge(s) with presentations at the annual Student Government Day at the Courthouse.
Why I want to be a judge – I was born and raised in Jackson County and we own the farm that has been in our family for nearly a century. I have a strong belief that the community is what you make it. … In a small community like ours, where everyone tends to know everyone else, integrity, work ethic and the ability to apply the law as written can be difficult. Nevertheless, it is critical that the judge uphold the laws and to be able to withstand the scrutiny that may flow from an unpopular but legally mandated decision based on the facts.
Best Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years - Board of Education v. Earls
Board of Education v. Earls was a case involving the 4th Amendment privacy rights of public school students involved in extracurricular activities. The school policy required random UA’s (urinalysis) of student in extracurricular activities regardless of whether there was a suspicion of drug activity concerning the students. The US Supreme Court ruled that the UA’s did not violate the 4th Amendment rights of the student because the students had a diminished expectation of privacy and because the policy as a whole furthered the important interest of preventing drug use among students. I agree with the court’s ruling and the rationale behind it. This case strikes a fair balance between individual privacy rights and the public interest of protecting our youth.
Worst Wisconsin or US Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years - Bowers v Hardwick
Bowers held that states could imprison homosexuals for having sex with their partners and it facilitated discrimination against gays and lesbians. It is one of the worst civil rights decisions since Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which gave the Supreme Court’s blessing to Jim Crow. … Seventeen years later the Supreme Court directly overruled its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and held that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional. In that case the court chastised itself stating “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.”
… This case holding does not just affect homosexuals and lesbians. It goes to the heart of the privacy interests of all Americans and attempts to intrude into the basic privacy rights of American citizens. These types of rights must be zealously protected for this to remain the great country of democracy and freedom for which America is known. There must be a balancing test and this factual scenario clearly did not past that test.
This case holding does not just affect homosexuals and lesbians. It goes to the heart of the privacy interests of all Americans and attempts to intrude into the basic privacy rights of American citizens.
Judicial philosophy - I believe that the role of the judiciary is to interpret the law and apply it to the specific factual scenario set out before the court. To believe otherwise would be to denigrate the separation of powers between the execute, legislative and judiciary branches. Stare decisis is what give the laws and system of justice stability. … The role of the judiciary is to consistently and evenhandly administer justice, maintaining a stable presence in the community that fosters future growth and positive infrastructure.
Other information you feel would be helpful to your application – More than 3 generations of my family have lived in Jackson County and we continue to call it home. As a long term resident, I cherish the lifestyle of living in a rural county and believe it is a terrific place to raise a family, run a business, and grow old. I believe I can make a positive impact on the county and is citizens as a judge. As a parent of elementary school children I also believe the court system can have a positive impact on the youth in the community. I successfully ran for election for District Attorney 4 times and believe that I can do the same again in a judicial race. I would cherish the opportunity to continue to serve and protect my community and its rural values. It would be a great honor to be appointed to this judicial vacancy.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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