New study: Wisconsin needs 18 additional judges
Madison, Wisconsin - January 23, 2007
A new study by the National Center for State Courts shows that Wisconsin needs 18 additional judges to maintain current levels of service in view of increasing caseloads. The 2006 Judicial Needs Assessment , an objective measure of the judicial time needed to process the cases filed in the circuit courts, is the first study of its kind in a decade.
No decision has been made about where to request new judgeships, but a judgeship bill will be developed in 2007 using data from this study. Counties considered for the bill will be those where the workload for each judge is high and where the judicial district shows a critical need overall.
Wisconsin last added a judgeship in 1999; if current case filing trends continue, the courts will be handling 150,000 more cases in 2008 than they handled in 1999. 2008 is the earliest that additional judges could begin work.
Although judicial needs assessments have been conducted since the late 1970s, the new study differs from past efforts in several key ways. First, it accounts for work performed by judicial court commissioners; second, it is based upon data from nearly all of the state’s judges (past studies have extrapolated judicial need based upon a small sample of judges); and third, it accounts for key changes in the law, such as Truth in Sentencing, that have added significantly to the amount of time designated for certain case types.
“As caseloads increase, our challenge is to continue to provide the level of service that the people expect,” said Director of State Courts A. John Voelker. “Ensuring that the courts are appropriately staffed is an important part of meeting that challenge.”
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