The list of applicants to fill the vacancy created by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa's move to senior status has been narrowed to these finalists: Michael B. Brennan, J. Mac Davis, Timothy G. Dugan, Gerald P. Ptacek, James L. Santelle and Maxine Aldridge White, according to a news release.
There are a number of heavy-hitters in that list. Judge Brennan is a legal scholar, an expert on Wisconsin sentencing laws and even-handed. He's also been mentioned as a possible State Supreme Court candidate. Judge Davis is a former legislator. Judge Ptacek served previously as District Attorney in Racine County. Judge White is well known in Milwaukee County.
Asking me which one of this group should get the nod will send my head spinning because there are so many qualified candidates. If I had to choose one, I think it would be Judge Ptacek who is smart, low-key and is not from either Milwaukee or Waukesha Counties. The Eastern District of Wisconsin encompasses a lot of territory and it would be nice to have someone from outside of Wisconsin's version of the Beltway.
I also think Judge Brennan, with his working knowledge of Wisconsin law, would be a great choice for State Supreme Court. I'd hate to see that talent wasted on the federal bench.