Supervisors vote in support of State of Wisconsin creating a second judgeship
The Waushara County Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 in favor of a resolution to support the State of Wisconsin in creating a second judicial position within the county during their regular meeting on Sept. 19, with District 3 Supervisor Larry Timm voicing the only opposing vote.
By passing the resolution, the board provided the state verification that Waushara County is willing to accept the responsibilities as well as the advantages of having a new judicial position and the creation of a second judgeship in the county.
Prior to approval, Waushara County Circuit Court Judge Guy Dutcher addressed the board outlining the need for a second judge.
“Recently there was a caseload study that was conducted by the State of Wisconsin that evaluated the need for judicial positions on a statewide basis,” Dutcher said. “Waushara County was revealed to have a profound need for additional judicial support beyond the position we currently have.”
In measuring the need for a second judge, the matrix used found Waushara County’s workload and the amount of cases proved a need for another ¾ of a judge, according to Dutcher. The current state budget includes provisions to add about 15 judicial positions across the state with Waushara County being eighth or ninth in line to receive a judicial position.
“Frankly, we are in a situation where I feel duty-bound on behalf of the county to seek the support that is necessary at the state level for this to be considered,” he said.
Dutcher went on to state he doesn’t know the likelihood that Waushara County will receive a second judgeship, but does know the state will not consider giving the county a second judgeship unless there is support from the county board and all decision makers at the county level in terms of the logistics, facilities and personnel.
Looking back at the past year, Dutcher said the Waushara County Circuit Court saw about 900 criminal cases, and he has found the number of cases he seen since he was elected judge 12 years ago has increased by at least 100 percent, possibly more.
Following Dutcher’s comments, Corporation Counsel Ruth Zouski and Clerk of Courts Melissa Zamzow took time to explain to the board some of the costs the county could be faced with if the state does allow for a second judge to preside in Waushara County.
Some of the costs addressed at the meeting as well as in the resolution explained there will be a need to create a judicial assistant position to handle scheduling for both judges and the family court commissioner as well as the hiring of two additional two deputy clerks so both courtrooms can be staffed while in session and the office remain covered.
In the resolution Zamzow advised in order to house the additional staff associated with the second judgeship, the county will need to provide an office for the court reporter assigned to the second judge, find a location for the judicial assistant and potentially reconfigure the existing Clerk of Courts Office to make room for the additional deputy clerks.
With the passing of the resolution, the board has given full support to the State of Wisconsin if they choose to create the second judgeship in the county.
The next regular meeting of the Waushara County Board of Supervisors will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Waushara County Courthouse, Wautoma.