Judge Randy Koschnick, Director of Wisconsin State Courts, gives an update on the state court system, including how the courts are dealing with large pandemic-related backlogs.
June 16, 2022 – “We are heading in the right direction.”
That was Judge Randy R. Koschnick, Director of State Courts, describing the state of Wisconsin’s judicial system in remarks given to the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors during its meeting on June 15 in Lake Geneva.
It was the second consecutive board meeting held in-person and served as the official kick-off for the
2022 Annual Meeting and Conference (AMC).
Koschnick told members of the board that state courts are making progress in handling a backlog in criminal cases.
“Things are levelling off, and that’s thanks to the efforts of many people – judges, lawyers, and others in the court system,” Koschnick said. “The backlog is no longer increasing, it’s leveled off and we’re turning the ship around.”
Koschnick said that the estimated felony backlog statewide stands at about 14,500.
“Each county is implementing the best strategies available to address their particular situation,” Koschnick said.
Koschnick said that some judges in counties adjacent to one-judge counties – of which there are 26 in Wisconsin – have stepped in to handle cases across county lines when a county’s single judge had been substituted.
In mid-sized counties like Waukesha, Kenosha, and Racine, Koschnick said that counties have pressed reserved judges into service to help with backlog, as well as reassigned judges from civil to criminal courts.
In Milwaukee, the state’s largest county, Koschnick said that Chief Judge Mary E. Triggiano has proposed creating five new criminal courts to handle the backlog.
‘We Will Not Be Letting Up’
Koschnick also addressed the targeted death of of retired Juneau County Judge John Roemer on June 3.
Koschnick extended his appreciation – and the appreciation of the Wisconsin Supreme Court – to the State Bar for the support it offered in the wake of Roemer’s killing, which he called “shocking.”
Outgoing State Bar President Cheryl Daniels summarized the work of the State Bar over the past year, thanked State Bar volunteers, and expressed optimism for the year ahead under incoming State Bar President Margaret Hickey.
“I want to personally assure you that the safety of judges and courthouse security have long been priorities in our court system and will remain so,” said Koschnick, who served as Jefferson County Circuit Judge for 14 years.
State Bar members will be kept in the loop about courthouse security training, Koschnick said. “I assure you, it’s not a new issue, and we will not be letting up on judicial and courthouse security.”
The board approved a revision of the Section Carry Forward Policy. Under the revision, the amount that a section may carry over from year to year is increased from $10,000 to $25,000.The board also approved rules changes recommended by the Committee on Resolution of Fee Disputes. The changes are largely procedural.
Board Appointments, Elections, Consent Agenda
Upon the recommendation of the board’s Nomination Committee, the board appointed Kristen D. Hardy, the board’s outgoing secretary, to serve as the next chair of the Board of Governors, for fiscal year 2023. Hardy serves as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary to Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee.
The board elected outgoing State Bar Secretary Kristen Hardy (left) to serve as chairperson of the State Bar Board of GOvernors for fiscal year 2023, which begins July 1.
The board appointed three members as representatives to the ABA House of Delegates:
Theresa McDowell, and
Wochos currently serves as a State Bar delegate to the ABA House.
Upon the request of outgoing State Bar President Cheryl Daniels, the board appointed four members to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation Board:
Deanne Koll, and
The board elected Dist. 13 Gov.
Robert G. Barrington, District 2 Gov.
Ryan M. Billings, NRLD Representative
Erik M. Guenther, NRLD Representative
Kathryn M. Bullon, Dist. 11 Gov.
Johanna R. Kirk, and Treasurer
Elizabeth Reeths to the State Bar’s 12-member Executive Committee for FY 2023.
The board also approved a request from the Elder Law and Special Needs Section to amend the section’s bylaws.
Members may obtain a copy of the minutes of each meeting of the Board of Governors by contacting State Bar Executive Coordinator Jan Marks by email or phone at 608-250-6106.