The Wisconsin Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state. It has 16 judges spread over the four districts of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Wausau, and Madison.
A Chief Judge is appointed by the Supreme Court to rule over the Court of Appeals and all other judges. This person also handles some administrative duties for the court. Chief Judges serve three-year terms. Within each of the four districts, the Courts of Appeals has a presiding judge who is appointed by the Chief Judge, and they are given additional supervisory and administrative responsibilities as well. They serve in this role for two years.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals does not try cases or examine any evidence, they sit in panels of three judges, to review previous case transcripts, written briefs (prepared by each side) and hear oral arguments to determine if the law was correctly applied in the first trial. They publish their decisions, called “opinions” for the public to review. Appeals from the Court of Appeals may go to the Supreme Court, but rarely do they accept new cases.
In some instances, only a single judge will review the case, and some examples of that would be:
- “Small claims actions.
- Municipal ordinance violations.
- Traffic regulation violations.
- Mental health, juvenile, contempt, and misdemeanor cases.”
The Wisconsin Court System website has valuable information on the appeals process, the function of the Court of Appeals, biographies, photographs and contact information for the judges, along with a list of the fees and how to file an appeal in Wisconsin. Additionally, the site has the history of the Court of Appeals, rules of the court, a case search portal, forms for filing appeals cases, an e-Filing option, and a Judicial Exchange Program.
On average the Wisconsin Court of Appeals hears about 2,400 cases per year.