Volume 2 | Issue 3 | May 2023

Q&A: Starting a judicial community conversation on mental health
Chief Judge Guy D. Dutcher

Chief Judge Guy D. Dutcher, Waushara County Circuit Court, is reaching out to start a conversation in the judicial community on mental health. As part of that conversation, Dutcher submitted to Third Branch eNews a Q&A article about his own experience in struggling with mental health issues. He hopes openly addressing mental illness will reduce stigma and allow others who may struggle with similar issues to realize they are not alone, and that they may find strength and assurance from people who understand what they confront.

Judge Guy D. Dutcher

ETF launches Mental Health Resources web page

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds has launched a Mental Health Resources web page. The web page addresses how employees may be able to assess mental health concerns and provides links to the state’s Employee Assistance Program, the Well Wisconsin wellness program, and Group Health Insurance Program provider contact information. ETF’s Mental Health Resources webpage is available here.

ETF mental health resources

Judge Gonzalez recognized with Lifetime Jurist award

La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez is the 2023 recipient of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Bench and Bar Committee's Lifetime Jurist Award.

“Judge Gonzalez has demonstrated outstanding, long-term judicial service during her 27 years as a presiding judge and has been committed to advancing judicial leadership and public service,” the Bar’s InsideTrack newsletter wrote in announcing the award.

“The award recognizes jurists who, during their tenure on the bench, were fair and impartial, demonstrated high ideals and personal character along with outstanding, long-term judicial service.” The award will be presented at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and Conference in Milwaukee June 15. Read more here.

Judge Ramona Gonzalez

Chief Judge Ashley named “Trailblazer”

Chief Judge Carl Ashley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, has been recognized with the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazer award.

Ashley, who was first elected judge in 1999, has led efforts to boost diversity in Wisconsin’s legal community, according to the Bar’s InsideTrack newsletter: “He chaired the State Bar’s Diversity Task Force in 2012 and was instrumental in encouraging the State Bar’s Board of Governors to make the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee a standing committee that reports to the Executive Committee.”

The award will be presented at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and Conference in Milwaukee on June 15. Read the full article and view a video interview here.

Judge Carl Ashley

Judge Radcliffe named Judge of the Year by State Bar

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Richard A. “Rick” Radcliffe has been named the State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee’s Judge of the Year.

The award recognizes an outstanding circuit court judge who has improved the judicial system during the past year “by his or her leadership in advancing the quality of justice, judicial education, or innovative programs,” according to the Bar’s InsideTrack newsletter.

Five years into taking the bench, “Radcliffe has found his stride as a community consensus builder in Monroe County Circuit Court.”

The award will be presented at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and Conference in Milwaukee on June 15. Read more here.

Judge Richard A. Radcliffe

Orientation program adds perspective on child welfare law

Judicial officers from across the state attended the 2023 Child Welfare Orientation program in La Crosse April 26-28. The training, which has been held since 2008, is designed to assist judges and circuit court commissioners in conducting hearings, and more broadly, to improve the daily processing of child welfare proceedings. In addition to covering key child welfare hearings and laws, sessions addressed utilizing data in judicial case management, child safety decision-making, and there was a workshop for court commissioners on issues unique to their role.

A parent and caregiver panel at the 2023 Child Welfare Law Orientation offered judges a rarely heard perspective on how judicial decision-making affects system participants.

Summit looks to improve criminal justice system response to those with mental illness

About 200 people, including criminal justice system partners, judges, law enforcement officials, policy makers and treatment service providers, gathered in Madison April 21 for the Chief Justice’s Summit on Mental Health.

The summit was called to encourage collaboration and look for solutions across agencies and disciplines to improve the Wisconsin criminal justice system’s response to people with mental illness, said Chief Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler.

Chief Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler makes opening remarks at the Chief Justice’s Summit on Mental Health, held April 21 in Madison.

PPAC, Supreme Court address challenging issues facing court system

On April 20, 2023, the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee, or PPAC, held its annual joint meeting with the Supreme Court in Madison. The meeting included presentations from several PPAC subcommittees, including the Court Security Subcommittee, chaired by Judge Michael O. Bohren, Waukesha County Circuit Court. Judge Bohren described the increase in security incidents and threats against the judiciary in recent years. He also gave an update on the March 2023 Court Safety and Security Conference in Appleton, which was attended by several judges and other court staff and security personnel.

Chief Judge Carl Ashley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, provides an update and information on Effective Justice Strategies (EJS) at a joint meeting of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) April 20 in Madison. Ashley chairs the PPAC EJS subcommittee.