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Biskupic to step down on Jan. 9

Call it tradition, but few were surprised by the announcement that current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Steven M. Biskupic resigned.

But who will succeed Biskupic when he departs on Jan. 9 is unknown, as is whether the U.S. attorney for the Western District, Erik C. Peterson, will follow suit.

“It is pretty customary for a new administration to appoint its own U.S. attorneys,” said attorney Robert L. Gegios, Immediate Past-President of the Eastern District Bar Association of Wisconsin (EDWBA).

Peterson was out of town during Biskupic’s announcement and could not be reached to comment on whether he plans to vacate the position he was appointed to in 2006.
Citing both personal and professional reasons, Biskupic announced on Dec. 2 that he will step down from the position he has held since being appointed by President George W. Bush in April 2002.

In a brief statement inside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee, Biskupic, 47, said he plans to venture into private practice, as well as teach next year.

He praised his colleagues and predecessors in the department, but cited the upcoming change in the White House, along with the death of his father a month ago, as factors in his decision to vacate the building where he has worked for almost 20 years.
“Obviously, there is a new administration coming up and it’s their prerogative to pick a new U.S. attorney,” Biskupic said. “Personally, it seemed the time was right.”

Biskupic’s father, Vince, had been a longtime attorney and, according to his son, “left quite a few files that my brother [Vincent] and I are trying to sort out.”

Vincent R. Biskupic is an attorney at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Appleton.
Steven Biskupic said he hopes to have a permanent job in place by February, and indicated he may also continue to teach at Marquette University Law School, as he did this past spring.

Biskupic also reiterated that he has no plans to run for public office.

“When I knew I wanted to work on public corruption cases and try them myself, I knew that you’ve got to decide you are not going to run for [public] office because you are going to have a lot of enemies when that time comes,” Biskupic said.

Gegios suggested there are plenty of credible candidates in the Eastern District to assume the role of U.S. attorney, but declined to name any possible candidates.

“But I hope it is someone who has the attributes of a Steve Biskupic,” he said.
Biskupic spent seven years as the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District and during his tenure received attention for his high profile prosecutions of four Milwaukee aldermen, including Michael McGee; state Sen. Gary George and former chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Mark Sostarich.

Despite his success in prosecuting public corruption cases, Biskupic said he hoped his successor would go even further with attacking the problem in Milwaukee.

“I don’t mean to throw something out there, but I just think there is more there and I hope the next U.S. attorney continues an aggressive path,” Biskupic said. “I think it’s definitely called for.”

Biskupic seemed especially proud of his work on the Frank Jude beating case in 2006-07 and said the convictions of several Milwaukee Police officers helped restore some public confidence in the department.

“People don’t look to the Bush appointee as someone who would be aggressive on civil rights and I hope I broke that mold a little bit,” said Biskupic.

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