Volume 1 | Issue 9 | December 2022

JET Initiative expanding to improve child welfare practices

In 2014, Casey Family Programs selected Wisconsin to implement the Judicial Engagement Team (JET) Initiative, which is designed to establish strategies to safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care and to improve timely permanence for children involved in the child welfare system. In 2015, pilot programs were started in Dane, Kenosha, and Monroe counties, and JET has since expanded to include Barron, Jefferson, Marathon, Marinette, Oconto and Outagamie counties. Racine and St. Croix counties are slated to begin participating in 2023.

JET initiative

Working with Interpreters in Languages Other than Spanish (LOTS)

In 2021, Spanish-language court interpreters logged an impressive 19,465 hours interpreting in Wisconsin courts. Spanish is the most frequently requested language to be interpreted, and requests for Spanish interpretation remain at the top in every county in the state. However, the Wisconsin Court Interpreter Program is also highly involved in recruiting interpreters to meet demand for interpretation of other languages.

Court interpreter

Spring voters to decide Supreme Court, other judicial races

Judicial offices slated for the April 4 Spring Election ballot include one seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court; two on the Court of Appeals, and about 50 judgeships in circuit courts statewide. Those offices include:

  • the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat currently held by Justice Patience Drake Roggensack, who is retiring at the end of her second full term on July 31, 2023
  • two seats on the Court of Appeals, including the District IV seat currently held by Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick, who is retiring, and the District I seat held by Chief Judge William W. Brash III; and
  • circuit court judgeships in at least 30 counties statewide, including four in newly created branches in Clark, Manitowoc, Sawyer and Wood counties.
Election image

Supreme Court approves update to court security rule

On Dec. 7, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order amending Supreme Court Rule, Chapter 68, relating to court security.

The amendment, originally submitted as Rule Petition 21-06, updates standards for courthouse construction, renovation, technology, and helps define county-level and facility committee's responsibilities.

The petition was submitted by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael O. Bohren on behalf of the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee’s (PPAC) Court Security Subcommittee. A copy of the order can be found here. Additional information about the rule petition and related materials can be found here.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Study examines plea deals in Milwaukee County, other U.S. jurisdictions

On Dec. 6, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on a MacArthur Foundation study that examines “plea deals and what goes into them” in three large U.S. jurisdictions, including Milwaukee, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

A recently released report from the study, “Exploring plea negotiation and processes and outcomes in Milwaukee and St. Louis County,” compares plea bargaining over a roughly six-year period, ending in 2020.

The report found that about in 2019 about 60% of Milwaukee County criminal cases were resolved by a plea deal, down from 66% three years earlier. A full copy of the newspaper article can be found here.

Wisconsin courthouse