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Bachelor’s in physics and math, University of Wisconsin-Madison; graduate of Marquette University Law School
City attorney; former private-practice attorney specializing in intellectual property law, also has experience in criminal defense and civil representation
Story by Jessica Stephen
Ed Antaramian went to school to study the law, and he fell in love with physics.
“Why does somebody like ice cream? Physics, from my perspective, is THE science from which all other sciences flow. Chemists might disagree with that, and I might lose some votes from the chemists,” Antaramian said with a shrug.
Sometimes, that’s the way the atom splits, although Antaramian hopes he won’t lose too much of that key chemist vote in the April 3 election for Kenosha County Circuit Court judge.
All but destined to be a lawyer — Antaramian’s father and uncle were attorneys, and Antaramian was tapped to carry on the family business — Antaramian’s love for the laws of physics might seem counter to his 28 years as a lawyer.
But he enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of people in the physics world, like the professor who calculated the ergs, or splat force, of a mosquito on a windshield or the students who built a three-story pendulum when a three-foot scale model might have sufficed.
“It was an opportunity to try to learn as much about the world as possible. It was a blast,” Antaramian said.
And, odd as it might seem, physics helped lay the foundation for Antaramian’s legal career and all the experiences that have come from that.
“And it’s a varied experience,” said Antaramian, 53, of Randall. “It’s in family law, civil law, criminal law, probate, intellectual property, anti-trust, environmental law, real estate law.”
“(Physics) gave me that perspective of not being satisfied with shades of gray and finding that particular shade of gray,” Antaramian said. “And, every day, there is something that can send you back to the books. And it’s all practical.”
Antaramian believes his experience with physics helped him pass the bar association’s patent exam, which allowed him to work on federal trademark and Napster-style music downloading copyright cases.
And Antaramian used that federal court experience in his work not only as a private practice attorney, but also as city attorney for Kenosha, a position he has held for nearly 20 years.
As city attorney, Antaramian said he has been able to apply all his experience — from criminal to civil, patent to probate. He’s dealt with contracts, worker compensation claims, civil defense. And, every week for the last 15 years, he has handled 60 or so pre-trial sessions with people facing tickets.
“That sort of experience is invaluable,” Antaramian said. “The city attorney’s office provided good preparation for being judge.”
And being judge would allow Antaramian to continue the tradition of service he has built throughout his career.
“My whole life has been dedicated to service. I don’t mean that to sound like a campaign speech,” said Antaramian, a past president of the Kenosha County Bar Association and chairman of the Ethics Board in Randall. “I try to help my community, and my community is defined in different ways. ... I think one of the highest, if not the highest civil service, you can do in our professions is being a judge.”
Bachelor’s in history, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School
Incumbent judge, former general-practice attorney and Kenosha County prosecutor
Appointed to the Kenosha County Circuit Court in November 2011
Story by Jessica Stephen
Ask Kenosha County Circuit Judge Jason Rossell about the European soccer — make that football — system, and you’re likely to get a Venn diagram-like explanation that rivals the most intricate of legal briefs.
“I got sucked in a few years ago, and I’ve stuck with it,” admitted Rossell, an unabashed Newcastle United fan — even if that costs him a few votes in the April 3 election.
And it might.
Depending on the voter, his football affiliations have been in question almost as much as his (for some) controversial appointment by Gov. Scott Walker to the judicial seat Rossell has held since November.
“There are people who refuse to consider me because of that connection. And there are people who support me because of that connection,” said Rossell, 35, of Kenosha.
For Rossell, the job of judge rises above politics.
“Judges who bring their politics to the bench aren’t good judges,” Rossell said. “The best thing I can do as a judge every day is put my political opinions behind me, because it’s not something that should be brought to the bench. ... The law is what the law is. It’s not my job to be a super-legislator or make law or change what the law is. I don’t create law; my job is to enforce it.”
But that doesn’t mean people haven’t had questions.
“When you’re out on the campaign trail, you get the question: Are you Republican or Democrat? I say I’m a non-partisan official. And there are people on both sides who support me,” Rossell said.
He also talks about his father, a union Democrat who spent 41 years as a telephone worker with the Communication Workers of America. And he talks about his wife, a Kenosha Unified School District teacher who recently learned she was among the dozens who should not expect to have a job here next school year.
And, Rossell said, he talks about his experience.
“What qualifies me is truly my experience. I’ve had many experiences with the law beyond criminal law,” Rossell said.
A former prosecutor, guardian ad litem, defense attorney and president of the Kenosha County Bar Association, Rossell said he got into law to protect the community.
“It was my desire from day one,” he said.
As a district attorney, that meant working with victims. In private practice, that meant helping clients deal with the consequences of their mistakes. Rossell also dealt with family law, adoptions, appeals, civil law, securities fraud, real estate matters as a private attorney.
It was a path he expected to continue, until Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara A. Kluka retired last year.
“I said, ‘There is a job in which your job every day is to go in and do the right thing. Every day, your job is to do right for the community. Every day, it’s your job in a divorce case to do the right thing for the children,’ ” Rossell said. “I just saw it as a way of public service, to going back to doing things that were in the service of Kenosha County.”