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America’s Judge Announces Retirement – The Legal Community Responds

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Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

(This is part one of a two-part series on the retirement of Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder)

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After 40 years on the bench, America’s Judge, Bruce Schroeder, will retire on November 27, 2023. Judge Schroeder announced his retirement to KCE Thursday evening.

“In January of 1971, fresh out of the Marquette University Law School, I was hired as an Assistant District Attorney by then District Attorney Burton A. Scott.  I knew only two people in Kenosha from law school, but on my first day on the job, I met a woman who has been the joy, inspiration and pride of my life.  A year and a half later, I married her, and we recently celebrated our fifty-first anniversary with our three children and five angelic grandchildren.

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Along the way, the people of Kenosha County have honored me by twice electing me as their district attorney and seven times as a circuit judge.  I have been honored beyond what I have deserved and credited for what others have accomplished, such as my fellow judges and clerks of court, past and present, and the unrecognized staff of the clerks’ office, law enforcement and the court reporters all of whom have patiently endured and supported me. 

I look forward to a long and happy retirement with my family and friends. Thanks for everything, Kenosha.  God Bless you all! “

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Judge Schroeder has agreed to an interview with KCE. That will occur in the coming days and we will publish that at a later date. KCE reached out to the members of the legal community for comments about the Judge’s retirement. Here is what they had to say:

Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Richards
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Richards

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“The 1st time I ever appeared in court room as a lawyer was in a pre-trial in judge Schroeder’s courtroom in 1988.  I appeared as a prosecutor & defense attorney too many times to count in his court.  There were good & bad experiences.  What stood out was judge Schroeder’s sense of what a courtroom was supposed to be & how he chose to achieve those goals.  Times have changed but judge Schroeder really didn’t, you knew where you stood & what was expected.  Judge Schroeder has more than earned his retirement &  I hope he savors every moment of his future endeavors.  On to the next chapter.”

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Milisauskas
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Milisauskas

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“Judge Schroeder is one of the best Judges Wisconsin ever had. A very sharp and smart legal mind, who came to work every day to serve justice for the citizens of the State of Wisconsin. He will be missed.”

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jason Rossell
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jason Rossell

“Judge Schroeder has been a blessing to Kenosha County for his entire career.    I have always been impressed with his scholarship, his thoughtfulness, and his care for citizens of Kenosha. As an attorney, I always knew that Judge Schroeder was prepared and was fully versed in the law.   You had to be equally prepared and ready to answer good questions about how the law applied.   When I became a Judge, Judge Schroeder was one of my go to Judges, who I would go to with complex questions or problems.  He never failed to provide good advice and point me right to the statute or the law.    Judge Schroeder has spent his entire career serving Kenosha County and he will be missed by all of us. “

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo

I am saddened by the news of Judge Schroeder’s retirement as he has served as a tremendous asset for our community over the past three plus decades during his illustrious legal career as an attorney, as the District Attorney of Kenosha County and Judge. Personally, I am also saddened that someone who has been a mentor and friend will no longer be holding court here in Kenosha. 

I’ve had to pleasure of knowing Judge Schroeder since I was 15 years old. As a young man taking one of  his daughters to the homecoming dance, I found it to be a very surreal, and intimidating, experience to be warned by this larger-than-life figure to be sure to have his daughter home before 10 pm. I think he drove us so thankfully I wasn’t too worried about being late!  His presence and demeanor made a lasting impression on me. We remained in touch over the years and our relationship has now turned to one of colleagues and friends. Judge Schroeder has been supportive of my legal career from its inception and his continued encouragement played a significant role in my decision to run for judge and join him as a member of the Kenosha Judiciary. Being sworn into the bench by Judge Schroeder is undoubtedly one of the best days of my legal career; and while I know I can never return the favor, I will forever be indebted to him for his unwavering friendship and steadfast mentorship. 

Thank you, Judge Schroeder, for your lifetime of public service and serving as an example of a person we should all strive to be. I wish you all the best and a lifetime of happiness and peace with your entire family.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Angelina Gabriele

I congratulate Judge Schroeder on his career as a dedicated and longest serving judge in Wisconsin. The Kenosha courthouse will not be the same without him. I hope he enjoys his well-deserved retirement with his family and friends.  

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jodi Meier
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jodi Meier

Such an amazing new chapter awaits Judge Bruce Schroeder in his well-deserved retirement!  Those of us who are regularly at the courthouse will, however, profoundly miss him.

For 25 years, I was privileged to regularly practice law before Judge Schroeder, and I have always had a deep appreciation for his wisdom, his legal mind, his insight, his historical nuggets and without a doubt his sense of humor! Of course playing jeopardy with attorneys and jurors for some levity was cherished by all as well.

For the last 7 years, it has been a tremendous honor to be his colleague on the judiciary where, through his mentoring, Judge Schroeder has taught on me how to balance fairness and accountability as well as how to mandate efficiency for litigants and victims to have their voices heard. 

By November’s end there will be a colossal void of scholar, personality and work ethic at the courthouse. In the waning moments of his remarkable legal career it is appropriate to reflect, smile and nod in  great respect regarding the gift of Judge Bruce Schroeder to this community. Here’s to a happy, healthy and adventurous retirement! Well done, my friend!

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman

“Judge Schroeder has been an excellent mentor and friend to me,” Kerkman said. “I’ve enjoyed his wit, humor and enthusiasm for trivia both as an attorney appearing in front of him and as a colleague. I will miss seeing him at the courthouse every day, but I am very happy for him and his family in his well-deserved retirement.”

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley

“Judge Schroeder is an institution and it is very hard to imagine the Kenosha Court system without him at its center.  He has been a proud traditionalist, a classic judge of the old school.  I’ve personally appreciated his kind support and advice over the years.  I will miss him on the bench ,but I’ll miss him even more as a person here at the courthouse.  I’m running out of people to talk baseball with around here.”

Kenosha County Sheriff David W. Zoerner Being Sworn In By Judge Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Sheriff David W. Zoerner

“Judge Schroeder has been a staple in the Kenosha County Criminal Justice system for about 50 years. His steadfast commitment to justice has inspired me and so many others. I was honored to have him conduct my swearing-in ceremony to become the 59th Sheriff. His powerful presence will be greatly missed in the judicial system. I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”‘

Kenosha Police Chief Patrick Comments
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha Police Chief Patrick Comments

“Judge Schroeder has been serving as a judge for as long as I have been alive….I don’t think I can say much more about a person’s dedication to service of his community than that. I have been in his courtroom over the years for many types of cases and you walk away with two definitives: the courtroom is his and he is fair. I watched as he listened to every fact of every case and applied them to the rule of law, while equally balancing the impact to each involved party and community. It is what we expect of judges and we were lucky enough to have that for 40 years. I wish him a happy and healthy well-deserved retirement.”

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman (File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman

“During my time as a legislator, Judge Schroeder was always someone I respected and counted on to offer insightful opinions of how the laws enacted in Madison affected the courts locally. As Wisconsin’s longest-serving judge, he brings a wealth of knowledge that will be missed when he leaves the bench. I hope he enjoys his next chapter in life with his wife and family, rooting for his beloved Milwaukee Brewers.”

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Cicchini
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Cicchini

“I’ve been defending criminal cases in Kenosha for over 21 years, and I can say that Schroeder always gave the defendant a fair shake at trial.  Rather than (figuratively) handcuffing the defense lawyers, he let them put on a meaningful defense to challenge the state’s allegations.  I will definitely miss his speech to the jurors after not-guilty verdicts, where he told them how they were the only thing standing between an accused citizen and the government.  Schroeder stood for things that some judges have long forgotten; his values will be missed by the defense bar. “

Judge Richard Ginkowski
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Judge Richard Ginkowski

“I have known Judge Schroeder for nearly 50 years.  He has one of the brightest legal minds and hands down is the judge you want handling a complex case.  His talent and work ethic will be sorely missed.   It has been my honor to work with him as a court commissioner for the past ten years.”

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Drew Burgoyne
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Drew Burgoyne

“I have long admired Judge Schroeder’s convictions about upholding individual’s rights to a speedy and fair trial, his convictions about family values,  and his convictions about protecting the public from violent criminals.  I enjoyed trying cases in front of him because of his wit and intelligence, his well-reasoned decisions about the admission of evidence, and his ability to maintain control of the proceedings. “

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Rosa Delgado
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Rosa Delgado

“I had the pleasure of being one of the prosecutors assigned to Judge Schroeder’s courtroom for the 2006-2008 criminal rotation.  After that rotation, I appeared before Judge Schroeder many other times on many other criminal cases.  Judge Schroeder is a no-nonsense judge and, that is one of the reasons I have admired him.  In his courtroom, Judge Schroeder did everything possible to ensure that the wheels of justice did not get rusty.  Judge Schroeder strived to hold everyone to high standards – from the attorneys in his courtroom to witnesses, defendants, and various agencies involved in the criminal justice system.  Judge Schroeder is very knowledgeable of the constitution and the laws that we in the legal community have sworn to uphold.  I am happy that Judge Schroeder gets to embark on this new chapter in his life.  However, with his retirement we lose decades of legal knowledge and that is irreplaceable.  I am glad that I had the privilege to work with Judge Schroeder over the years and, I wish him nothing but health and happiness for many years to come.”

Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Cafferty
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Cafferty

“Judge Schroeder has an encyclopedic knowledge of trial law. I would not be surprised to learn that he has presided over more criminal jury trials than any other judge in Wisconsin. He has always been fair and respected the constitutional rights of litigants. I am a better lawyer for  having practiced in his court.”

Criminal Defense Attorney Eric Olson
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Criminal Defense Attorney Eric Olson

“Judge Schroeder possesses an education, a life experience, and plain common sense from both today and a bygone era that will be missed with his retirement.  Many a morning in his court I had to suppress a smile or laugh due to Judge Schroeder’s sternness, whether it was at the expense of an attorney, litigant, or defendant; but a little sternness never hurt anyone.  In addition the Judge’s application of his broad historical perspective was always interesting and informative when applied to today’s modern society. “

Judge Schroeder’s Long-Time Judicial Assistant Tami Lema
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Judge Schroeder’s Long-Time Judicial Assistant Tami Lema

I had the pleasure of working for Judge Schroeder for 30 years as his Judicial Assistant.  The knowledge I acquired during my tenure in Branch 3 is insurmountable.  Judge Schroeder was a teacher, mentor, and became a dear friend over the last 30 years.  I am excited for him as he starts his new chapter in life.  I will miss our talks, our laughs, and him playing Mele Kalikimaka at Christmas time, but the wonderful memories of him and Branch 3 will last a lifetime.    

Kenosha County Clerk of Courts Rebecca Matoska-Mentink
(Submitted Photo

Kenosha County Clerk of Courts Rebecca Matoska-Mentink

“With his retirement, we are losing decades of facts and tales of Kenosha Court history. I am fortunate to have heard many of his stories and lectures he was prone to share. This is a well –deserved retirement. I will miss his common sense approach to courtroom management. He stated many times during the planning stages of high profile trials that his job was to administer the law and the administration of safety and jurors were left to the clerk and the sheriff. He has always treated me and the entire court staff with respect.

Criminal Defense Attorney Denise Hertz-McGrath

“Kenosha County Courts will be a very different place without Bruce Schroeder running Branch 3.  He could be very difficult at times, but he would give you a good trial. If this was the first time that you had committed an offense, he could be lenient and very fair, but if you were a repeat offender it was best that you substituted away from him as he would bank you if he thought it appropriate. Good luck to you, Bruce Schroeder in your retirement, you will miss Branch 3 and it will be so different without you.” 

Former Criminal Defendant John Doe

“Unfortunately I’ve been through the system a few times over the years and as a younger man. I was in front of Judge Schroeder more than once and he always treated me like a person, not a convict. He showed me mercy and it paid off. I turned my life around. I give him much of the credit. I hope his retirement is a long one.”

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Nathan DeBruin, For Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder Playing Games With Jury
(File Photo by Nathan DeBruin, For Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder c. 2009
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Optic Light Photography)
Judge Schroder and His Wife Donna
(Submitted Photo)
Judge Schroeder’s Courtroom
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Judge Schroeder’s Courtroom
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Judge Schroeder’s Courtroom
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Judge Schroeder’s Courtroom
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

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7 Responses

  1. I remember reading somewhere, Judge Schroeder explaining why he goes into detail about why he decided one way or the other when making a ruling on objections by the participating attorneys.
    He said that he has never had any of his rulings overturned.
    That’s because the appeal court’s can read in the transcripts the basis for his rulings. Therefore there are no questions about why a particular ruling was made which is where confusion about what was said and why is asked during the appeal process.
    Other judges can learn from his example.

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  2. I have appeared in Judge Schroeder’s court numerous times over the years and have nothing but respect for the way he managed his courtroom. Also his rebuke of Binger in the Rittenhouse trial for remaining silent was epic. Kenosha County is losing a gem.

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  3. Best wishes to Judge Schroeder on his well deserved retirement. My father was KSD and had utmost respect for the Bruce. His retirement is huge loss for the community and our judicial system.

  4. Judge Schroeder was a fair and impartial judge. He was feared by criminals wanting to gt off easy. Many asked for substitutions out of fear. To those good people -their was respect for Judge Schroeder. He was able to go from being stearn to attorneys acting out of order to correcting witnesses about the term victim (complaining witness) to playing quiz games with the jury. He was knowledgeable, in control and fair. I wish him the best for his well deserved retirement.

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