The majority of municipal court cases involve traffic, parking, and ordinance matters, including first-time drunken driving offenses. Juvenile matters, such as truancy, underage drinking, drug offenses and curfew violations are also a significant part of municipal court caseloads. The laws governing municipal courts include Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 800, Municipal Court Procedure and Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 755, Municipal Court (external links).
Common cases include:
- First offense drunk driving
- Underage alcohol
- Building code violations
- Disorderly conduct
- Health code violations
- Animal control violations
As of February 2014, there were 237 municipal courts and 240 municipal judges in Wisconsin. Sixty-seven of these courts are joint courts that serve from two to seventeen municipalities. Milwaukee has the largest municipal court, with three full-time judges and four part-time court commissioners handling more than 110,000 cases annually.
Creating municipal courts
Municipalities may join together to form one court. The contracting municipalities need not be contiguous or even in the same county. Any number of municipalities may join and voters in all the municipalities elect the judge.
A packet entitled Starting a Municipal Court is available to assist municipalities interested in creating municipal courts. It contains statistics about municipal courts, sample ordinances, answers to commonly asked questions, ethics advice and general information. The guide is continuously updated and distributed to municipalities upon request.
Use the navigation on the right to explore the municipal courts.