MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has appointed Rock County Corporation Counsel Jeff Kuglitsch to fill the Rock County Circuit Court seat being vacated as Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick moves to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals Aug. 1.
Kuglitsch has represented Rock County in legal matters since 2007, and previously served the same position for Shawano County from 1994 until 2007 and Vilas County from 1991 until 1993.
He handled cases on appeals and handled a wide range of legal matter related to representing the county, including zoning disputes, small claims matters, child support and Child in Need of Protective Services (CHIPS) cases.
"I am pleased to appoint Jeff Kuglitsch to the Rock County Circuit Court," Walker said. "Jeff has more than 25 years of public sector experience, the right temperament, and a firm commitment to the rule of law. He will serve the people of Rock County well as a judge."
Kuglitsch told the Beloit Daily News Wednesday he was "humbled an honored to be selected by Governor Walker,"
"I will endeavor to treat all matters that come before me with fairness and impartiality," the new judge added.
Although a swearing-in date has not been officially scheduled, Kuglitsch speculated he would take his on Aug. 1.
Multiple officials and Wisconsin judges spoke highly of the new appointee.
Rock County Board Chairman Russell Podzilni praised Kuglitsch's knowledge of the law and his attention to case detail, calling him a "trusted and well-respected adviser readily available to assist all County Board members, and a skilled legal practitioner with a strong moral compass."
Menominee and Shawano County Circuit Court Judge James R. Habeck, called Kuglitsch "an outstanding choice for appointment to the Rock County Circuit Court." Habeck added, "Kuglitsch understands the legislative process and recognizes his role in enforcing public policy. His calm demeanor fits the ideal judiciary candidate and his personal ethical standards are certainly in line with the conduct expected of Wisconsin's judges."
George Steil of Brennan Steil law firm, who wrote on behalf of Kuglitsch's appointment, said the new judge was "highly skilled, well respected and efficient."
"Mr. Kuglitsch will do an excellent job as (a) Rock County Circuit Court judge," Steil added.
In the Rock County community, Kuglitsch is an active member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Janesville and a former board member of a domestic abuse shelter in Shawano. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kuglitsch resides in Janesville with his son and daughter.
When Judge Fitzpatrick moves to the appeals court it will make Rock County history, marking the first time a Rock County judge secured an appellate seat since the mid-19th century. The last time a judge was named to the state court was in 1859 when Ed Whiton held the office, according to circuit court records.
Fitzpatrick has served the county for eight years and was appointed to the position in 2008. He will remain in circuit court until the end of this month.
Kuglitsch must face an election bid next spring, according to state statute.