JUNEAU — Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Steven Bauer presided over court Tuesday when a woman failed to appear for her arraignment.
“She’s on the phone,” Bauer told the attorney’s in the court room. The Milwaukee woman told Bauer over the phone that she lived in Milwaukee and did not drive. She it was simply too hard to get to Dodge County at 8:30 a.m.
Bauer told the woman over the phone the appearance was not optional and he was going to issue a warrant for her arrest.
“I am going to stay that warrant until your next court date,” Bauer told the woman.
The simple solution was nothing new to the sensible approach Bauer has had in his years on the bench.
“Judge Bauer is one of the most intelligent people I’ve known and provides a spirited debate on any subject,” Dodge County Clerk of Courts Lynn Hron said. “Dodge County will miss his common sense approach to justice.”
Friday is Bauer’s last day as a Dodge County Circuit Court Judge and in retirement he will return to life on a farm.
“I am ready to leave,” Bauer said. “After you do enough of this, you see enough ugly stuff and you know it is time to leave and let someone else deal with it.”
Bauer said he will miss the people he has worked with in the court system.
“I understand that is the downside, because the people here are very good,” Bauer said.
But Bauer said he has looked forward to more time at his horse farm.
“I’ll have (time for) some simple farming, reading, guitar playing, bicycling,” Bauer said.
Travel isn’t currently advisable but Bauer said he doesn’t mind because he likes to spend time at home.
Bauer has a master’s degree in agricultural economics. He was employed at the county UW Extension as an agricultural agent for several years before going to law school. He did criminal defense and bankruptcy cases before becoming the Dodge County District Attorney in 2002 and then being appointed as a judge in 2008.
“No matter my role, I tried to do every case as good as I could,” Bauer said.
Bauer said there were highs and lows in each position. He recalled being a defense attorney for a prison inmate who was acquitted of strangling his cell mate and also recalled being the prosecutor when a man accused in a drunken driving crash in Dodge County was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
As a judge, Bauer said a case out of Sauk County was his most memorable. Bauer granted a new trial for a man who had sat in prison for a 1989 first-degree murder conviction. Terry G. Vollbrecht, who was then 52, pleaded no contest to an amended charge of second-degree murder with a dangerous weapon in the 1987 death of 18-year-old Angela F. Hackl.
Bauer sentenced him to the maximum 25 years in prison. However, because Vollbrecht already had served 22 years in prison, he had reached his mandatory release date under the law, and was paroled immediately.
Bauer said one thing that has stood out to him over the years was all the good law enforcement and social workers.
“A lot of them have been a pleasure to work with,” Bauer said. “I also would like to thank the many good people of Dodge County who never saw the inside of a courtroom for a criminal matter.”
Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.
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