Charles B. Schudson - Career

State and Federal Prosecutor, 1975-1982

Making a Difference for Battered Women

In 1975, long before the justice system was paying attention to the needs of battered women, Schudson, as a Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney, led the effort to create the nation’s first battered women’s program in a prosecutor’s office. The U.S. Justice Department named it one of the nation’s two best victim-support programs and chose Schudson to train prosecutors throughout America to develop similar resources for battered women.

“‘You are a very special person,’ the woman said to Charles Schudson … turning to her fellow [Battered Women’s] Task Force members, the woman added, ‘He listens. We’ll tell all the battered women to ask for him.’”  The Milwaukee Journal

Assistant District Attorney Schudson
- the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

In 1976, Schudson wrote, The Criminal Justice System as Family: Trying the Impossible for Battered Women, and presented the paper to the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. In 1978, as a guest on the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, he declared:

“There has to be an absolute legal and moral standard that says, whatever the pressures in the family, you must not be violent … by putting the leverage of the criminal justice system officially against violence within the home, we can make a difference for battered women.”

Making a Difference for Victims of White Collar Crime

From 1976 to 1982, Assistant District Attorney Schudson prosecuted almost every kind of crime — from consumer fraud to drunk driving, from shoplifting to homicide. At the same time, teaching Criminal Law and Criminal Process to undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he began what was to become an equally illustrious academic career. 

During these same years, serving as a Special Assistant United States Attorney and a Special Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General, Schudson coordinated Wisconsin’s Medicaid fraud prosecutions. Winning precedent-setting cases in both the federal and state courts, his efforts were so successful that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare selected Schudson to teach prosecutors nationwide how to prepare such cases, and the U.S. Department of Justice selected him for its Award for Superior Performance.

“I want to congratulate you for the excellent work you did in these precedent setting prosecutions. Your erstwhile commitment to digging up the truth served the public immensely.”

E. Michael McCann,
District Attorney, Milwaukee County

On a frigid February night in 1976, a developmentally disabled seventy-eight year-old man wandered out of a Milwaukee nursing home and froze to death. After directing a two-year investigation, Schudson charged the nursing home owners and administrators with reckless homicide and the abuse of fifty-eight other patients.

For the next four years, including a five-week jury trial, Schudson prosecuted the cases leading to the nation's first convictions of nursing home operators for plundering their patients for profit. His work again gained national attention, including Newsweek coverage, and again sent him on the national circuit helping prosecutors pursue similar cases.

He then co-authored Nailing an Omelet to the Wall: Prosecuting Nursing Home Homicide (Corporations as Criminals, Sage Publications, 1984).

“You have most successfully plowed virgin territory with this prosecution. Frankly, I marveled at your ingenuity and admired the painstaking patience with which you sedulously investigated this matter and crafted a very fine case. Salutations are in order!”  E. Michael McCann, District Attorney, Milwaukee County

Trial Judge, 1982-1992

In 1982, Judge Schudson became Wisconsin's youngest circuit court judge. For ten years, he served in the juvenile and criminal courts of Milwaukee County, presiding over thousands of cases and almost three hundred jury trials.

“I know of no greater honor any group of human beings can give to another than to say simply, ‘We accept you to judge us.’ … Would I stand before this person to be judged and know that I would be dealt with in terms of fairness and equity and the law?’ And that was the final question I asked about Judge Schudson. And the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’”  Lee Sherman Dreyfus, Governor, State of Wisconsin

And Judge Schudson, the teacher, brought his efforts beyond the courtroom.

 "Lunch in Philadelphia"

  • Traveling regularly to reform schools and treatment centers to visit the very children he sentenced
  • Creating “Lunch in Philadelphia” — a program hosting more than 1000 grade school students for mornings in court followed by lunch-hour seminars on the Constitution
  • Presenting a paper, “The Impact of Unemployment on Children and Families,” and testifying before the United States House Subcommittee on Labor Standards
  • Proposing legislation to reform juvenile law, create victim/witness services, and require “truth in sentencing”
  • Teaching Criminal Law and Criminal Process at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Keynoting professional conferences throughout America
  • Presenting "Making Courts Safe for Children" to judicial conferences in forty states and abroad
  • Writing On Trial: America's Courts and Their Treatment of Sexually Abused Children (Beacon Press, 1989; 2d ed., 1991)


"Judge Visits Kids He Jails"

Appellate Judge, 1992-2004

In 1992, Judge Schudson became Wisconsin's youngest appellate judge. For twelve years, he decided thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of published decisions governing countless areas of law, civil and criminal.

At the same time, he expanded his teaching, joining the Wisconsin Law School faculty and traveling the world to help judges better understand the child sexual abuse cases coming to their courts in ever increasing numbers.

“Judge Schudson’s commitment to teaching excellence, together with his strong, personal commitment to improving the response of the justice system to women and child victims has caused him to receive many, many accolades from those he has addressed. Clearly, speaking invitations at the rate of two to three a week would not continue to be received by this organization, were Judge Schudson not a stirring advocate, educator and speaker.”  Jeffrey A. Kuhn, Child Sexual Abuse Project Director, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

In 1998, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Judge Schudson was honored for his work on behalf of vulnerable victims -- nursing home residents, battered women, and sexually abused children. He received the National Human Rights Leadership Award.

Actress Ann Archer presenting the National Human Rights Leadership award to Judge Schudson.

In Atlanta in 2000, the Foundation for Improvement of Justice presented its highest national award to Judge Schudson, proclaiming:

"No person has been more influential in enhancing the justice system’s sensitivity to children than Judge Charles Schudson. [He] has been bold — innovating, writing, and teaching to make America’s courts safe and fair for children.”

“Judge Schudson …thank you for all your hard work, your professionalism, your thoroughness, and your pride in what you are doing. You are the personification of excellence in public service.”  William A. Bablitch, Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court

National and International Teacher

Judge Schudson has traveled throughout the United States and to Canada, Chile, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Russia and Spain teaching police officers, social workers, doctors, law students, lawyers, judges and other professionals.

Since 1983, Judge Schudson has served on the faculties of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Judicial College, teaching numerous courses on subjects including Sentencing, the Fourth Amendment, and Child Sexual Abuse.

From 1976 to 1984, Judge Schudson served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, teaching Criminal Law and Criminal Process.

From 1999 through 2009, Judge Schudson served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Law School, teaching Trial Advocacy.

Since 2004, Judge Schudson has presented one-week law and literature programs for Lawrence University's Bjorklunden Seminars, and in 2007, he served as Lawrence's Law and Literature Scholar in Residence.

In 2007, Judge Schudson created a new course, “Preparing Lawyers for Life," which he introduced at Marquette University Law School and taught at both Marquette and the Wisconsin Law School in 2008 and 2009.

And since 1975, Judge Schudson has presented guest-lectures at many colleges and universities including:

  • Alverno College
  • Auburn University
  • Cornell University School of Medicine
  • Dartmouth College
  • Delta State University
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • Harvard Law School
  • John Marshall Law School
  • Marquette Law School
  • McGill University (Montreal, Canada)
  • Universidad Católica (Santiago, Chile)
  • Universidad Diego Portales Facultad de Derecho (Santiago, Chile)
  • Universidad de León (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
  • University of California - San Diego
  • University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • University of Georgia School of Law
  • University of Miami
  • University of South Carolina Law School
  • University of Texas Law School

He has keynoted countless judicial and professional conferences and addressed national associations and organizations including:

  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • The National Association of Social Workers
  • The National Conference of Mayors
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
  • The Sierra Club
  • The United States Navy
  • United States Congress - House Subcommittee on Select Education
  • United States Congress - House Subcommittee on Labor Standards
  • United States Congress - Senate Judiciary Committee

Law and Literature Teacher

In 2004, building on his undergraduate concentration in American literature and his twenty years of study in the Brandeis-model / Wisconsin Judicial Education Law and Humanities programs, Judge Schudson created "Just Desserts -- Behind the Scenes of America’s Legal System (from the kitchen to the consumer)" -- a one week adult education course for Lawrence University's Bjorklunden Seminars.

Returning to Bjorklunden 2005 - 2008, he prestented: "Law and Literature: Never the Twain Shall Meet?"; "Loves Me, Love Me Knot: the History, Law and Literature of Marriage"; "Solitude - Exploring Aloneness." 

Since 2007, Judge Schudson has specialized in law and literature programs for judges. Working closely with state judicial education directors, he has designed and presented seminars including:

  • Loves Me, Loves Me Knot - the History, Law and Literature of Marriage
  • Marriage, Murder, Isolation and... Judging
  • The Judicial Art in America Today - Touching Citizens, Leading Lawyers, Maintaining Independence
  • Brains and Biases - Yesterday and Today
  • Brain Science and Bias - an Introduction to Emotional Intelligence
  • Violent Families / Violated Judges: - from the Courtroom to the Bedroom

To respond to the increasing interest in his law and literature seminars, and to preserve small group discussions even at large conferences, Judge Schudson has joined with several carefully selected co-facilitators including Judge Timothy Baland, founder of Literature for Lifelong Learning.

Scholar / Author

Judge Schudson graduated from Dartmouth College, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Awarded a Dartmouth Senior Fellowship for independent study, he attended New York University where he studied American linguistics with Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, and wrote his fellowship thesis, "The Philosophic Perspective: Literature and Crime in America."

Judge Schudson graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School where he was a member of Law Review. He taught in the law school’s graduate program for Latin American lawyers and thirty years later became the Wisconsin Law School Scholar in Residence at Universidad Diego Portales Law School in Santiago, Chile. In 2009, he was awarded a five-year Fulbright Fellowship for law school teaching abroad.

In addition to hundreds of published appellate decisions, Judge Schudson has authored dozens of published articles and chapters.

Click for Selected Published Works by Judge Charles B. Schudson

He co-authored On Trial: America’s Courts and Their Treatment of Sexually Abused Children (Beacon Press, 1989; 2d edition, 1991).

“Thank you so much for arranging with your publisher to have copies of On Trial sent for our educational efforts in the Eastern Caribbean. We have received many favorable and grateful comments. Your work is reaching people all over the world!”

Robin S. Hassler, Executive Director
Florida Task Force on Domestic Violence

“Judge Schudson … Thank you for On Trial, the book we needed.”

Oprah Winfrey


Judge Schudson has been recognized for his efforts on behalf of battered women, nursing home patients, and abused children. His awards include:

  • 1980: United States Justice Department “Award for Superior Performance”

  • 1984: Wisconsin Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse “Certificate of Special Achievement”

  • 1995: Career Youth Development “Wisconsin Judge of the Year”

  • 1995: Believe the Children: “Child Advocacy Award”

  • 1998: Freedom Magazine “National Human Rights Leadership Award”

  • 2000: Foundation for Improvement of Justice “National Improvement of Justice Award”

  • 2004 National Exchange Club "Book of Golden Deeds Award"

  • 2009 Senior Specialist Fulbright Fellowship



“Judge Schudson is an inspiring teacher. His keynotes amaze and motivate; his seminars offer keen insight, warmth and wit.
Judge Schudson may be America's most creative and compelling professional educator.

Steven V. Licata, former Executive Director, The Thomas J. Watson Foundation

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