MADISON – Representative James Edming (R-Glen Flora) was proud to vote in favor of legislation he co-authored, Assembly Bill (AB) 470, which was approved with wide bipartisan support during Tuesday’s State Assembly floor session. This legislation would create a total of 12 new circuit court branches around the state to be allocated by the Director of State Courts. This bill as approved by the Assembly creates four new circuit court branches in each year of 2021, 2022, and 2023. This gradual implementation will help spread out the implementation costs for the state and provide counties time to plan and build the additional courtroom space to accommodate the new judge.
“The drug epidemic that has hit our state hard has caused a sharp increase in caseloads in many counties around Wisconsin,” said Rep. Edming. “In some counties, including Sawyer and Marathon, which I represent, the caseload has reached the point where an additional judge is needed. This important legislation will help relieve some of the stress on the judicial system and allow the court system to more quickly and effectively meet the needs of the people it serves.”
An example of the high caseloads can be found in Sawyer County. In 2018, Sawyer County had 402 felony complaints filed in a one-judge county. In comparison, nearby Barron County had 452 felony complaints filed that were split amongst that county’s three judges.
“I had the opportunity to sit on the bench for the day with Judge Yackel and it became clear to me that he cannot do it alone as the lone judge in Sawyer County,” said Rep Edming. “As I looked into this issue more, I soon learned that Judge Yackel was not alone and other counties around the state had the same need as Sawyer County, including Marathon. While this bill does not guarantee new circuit court branches to any specific counties, it does provide counties, like Sawyer and Marathon, with the opportunity to submit their plans to the Director of State Courts for consideration.”
AB 470 now moves on to the State Senate for further consideration.
The 87th Assembly District includes portions of Clark, Marathon, Rusk, Sawyer and Taylor Counties.