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Ann Davey retires from public defender duty

Ann Davey, who recently retired as attorney manager at the public defender's office, currently works at Back to Books in downtown Hudson, where her love of reading has no bounds. Photo by Jon Echternacht

Ann Davey has time to read what she wants. In fact, she's surrounded by books of all manner and subject at her new job in Hudson.

Davey retired late last year as attorney manager of the Wisconsin Public Defender's Office in Hudson. She has been a public defender for the better part of her 26 years as an attorney in Madison and Hudson.

"After being a public defender for 25-plus years, it's nice to read anything other than police reports," she said during a conversation last week.

"I have more time to walk and ski and do something physical every day," Davey said. "I'm not so stressed out."

Davey specialized in juvenile law as a public defender. She said she worked as a prosecutor in the district attorney's office in Madison for three months and didn't like it.

"I loved representing kids," she said.

Davey feels there has been a change and not necessarily for the good since she started as a child advocate. She started when the law and codes held the child's best interest foremost, and 17-year-olds were considered juveniles.

Now the public's best interest comes first and kids at 17 are considered adults in court. "That's a travesty," said Davey. "These 17-year-olds don't do well on probation."

"From 1982, when I started, to 1995, juveniles were considered a work in progress," she said.

Looking back over a quarter century in the public defender's office, the 63-year-old Davey said the best parts of the job were "the kids and the people she worked with in the office."

"Most of the time it (the job) was a good experience," she said, "but the bad part was the overloading with paperwork and cases that made it hard to do a good job."

Davey said she spent her formative years in Michigan and Connecticut, then moved to Milwaukee when she was 9. She graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in 1975 then earned a law degree from Madison in 1982. She also has a counseling degree from UW-Milwaukee and was a high school-level teacher for four years.

She moved to Hudson in December 2001 from Madison to manage the local office.

While in Madison, she worked on a case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court but lost the decision. She also was involved in a case that went before the Wisconsin Supreme Court that returned a favorable decision.

The future holds the possibility for Davey to work as a court-appointed attorney or guardian ad litem, but she wants to take a break from the courtroom for a while.