Wisconsin’s Circuit Courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. There is at least one Circuit Court in every county. Six counties are paired and share a Circuit Court. They are Buffalo/Pepin, Florence/Forest, and Shawano/Menominee. Some circuits have only one judge, and some like Milwaukee has 47 judges. The state has a total of 249 Circuit Court judges.
Wisconsin is divided into 72 counties, and those are grouped into nine judicial, administrative districts for the courts. Within each district is a Chief Judge who is appointed by the Supreme Court. He or she may serve three consecutive two-year terms. Along with the responsibilities of being a judge, this person also has special administrative duties to carry out. The Chief Judge can also select a deputy chief judge to assist and fill in during his or her absence. Additionally, a court administrator and court management assistant round out the team to help the Chief Judge carry out his or her duties.
Many Circuit Courts have their own websites, and on the Wisconsin Court System website, there are links to each one. Additionally, the site has a listing and biography page for each Circuit Court judge, a page on the fees and how to file a case, information on the Clerks of the Court and the history of Wisconsin Circuit Courts. Anyone needing to file a case can do so in person with downloadable forms from the website or use their e-Filing portal online.
Circuit Courts are funded by both county and state funds. The state handles judges’ salaries and those of court reporters and reserve judges. They also pay for training and travel for judges. The counties pay for everything else, including all operating costs with a few exceptions (jurors, interpreters, and witnesses).