Steven D. Ebert
VROC # 6655
Rest in Peace
September 19, 2016
From a newspaper story for Steven D. Ebert:
TOWN OF WEST POINT—Former Dane County Circuit Court Judge Steven D. Ebert, who retired after 12 years on the bench in 2009, was killed Saturday when the motorcycle he was driving collided with a van north of Lodi in southwestern Columbia County, authorities said.
Ebert, 69, of Middleton, died at the scene despite life-saving measures by law enforcement and rescue personnel, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said.
A Madison native who graduated from East High School, Ebert earned his bachelor’s degree at UW-Madison and law degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ebert had also worked as a reserve judge on a fill-in basis following his retirement through the end of 2015, according to District Court Administrator Theresa Owens.
“There was no pretension, no artifice about the guy,” said retired Judge William Foust, who was appointed to the 17-member Dane County Circuit Court bench by then-Gov. Tommy Thompson the same day as Ebert in 1997.
“I loved him,” Foust added. “It’s a tremendous loss, and such a shock. He was a gem.”
Fellow former Judge David Flanagan, who spent 10 years on the Dane County bench with Ebert, echoed Foust’s impression of Ebert as a genuine, caring professional.
Flanagan also worked with Ebert for 18 years in the state Department of Justice, where both worked as prosecutors of high-profile criminal cases before becoming judges.
“He was a real down-to-earth kind of guy, someone who could see the basic fairness in a case,” Flanagan said. “He could cut through the complications — understood them, but cut through them — to the basic fairness.”
“He also had a sense of who the people were who were involved in the case,” Flanagan added. “He was very able to perceive the human aspect of the cases that were in front of them.”
The motorcycle-van crash occurred about 10 a.m. on Highway 113 near Highway V in the town of West Point, near Okee, when the van pulled out in front of the motorcycle, according to the sheriff’s office.
Ebert was wearing a helmet. The van driver and a passenger in the van were not injured.
Ebert, a Navy veteran, loved to ride his motorcycle and put hundreds of miles on it on long rides, Foust said. He also was proud of his roots in Madison’s East Side, where he grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, Foust noted.
“He was a blue-collar kind of kid and a blue-collar kind of judge,” Foust said of Ebert, who was the judge in the 2006 trial of former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen in the caucus scandal, which involved the use of state resources to illegally campaign for legislative candidates.
“(Ebert) had a heart of gold and really understood people and what motivated them,” Foust said.
Along with riding his motorcycle, Ebert liked to hunt deer and was a member of a target-shooting club using “old-fashioned, black powder guns,” said Flanagan, who spent some time riding motorcycles and hunting with Ebert.
During his full-time career as a judge, Ebert spent 10 years handling criminal cases and two years in the juvenile division. He also worked for the Rock County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor for a few years prior to joining the state Department of Justice.
The crash remains under investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
It was the 18th vehicular fatality in Columbia County in 2016, the sheriff’s office said.
Ebert’s survivors include his wife, Barbara, and grown children.
VROC condolences to the family
of Steven D. Ebert.
Rest in peace Steve.