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Vilas County judges making history

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The newest judges in Vilas County are making history.

Over the past year, the Vilas County Circuit Court bench has been in constant turnover.

In November of 2021, Judge Martha Milanowski took over the job of Circuit Court Judge from former Judge Neal 'Chip' Nielsen.

Last week, Judge Daniel Overbey became the second Circuit Court Judge in Vilas County.

Both of these appointments set new standards in Vilas County. Judge Milanowski is the first woman to take the bench in Vilas County, and Judge Overbey's judgeship makes it the first time Vilas County has ever had two presiding judges.

"When young women, young girls up here, when they see they have a judge in their county that looks like them, it is a wonderful thing," Judge Milanowski said. "It gives them an idea that maybe it is something they can pursue as well."

For years, judges in Vilas County have described a need for another judge and courtroom in the community.

Constantly Vilas County ranked in the top ten courts in the state in need of a new judge.

Former Circuit Court Judge Nielsen held the position for nearly two decades and said having two judges provides the county a unique opportunity.

"There is an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied," Overbey said. "We are working right now, especially in the criminal cases through a backlog that just existed because there was only one judge in one courtroom."

Having two courtrooms and judges provides Milanowski and Overbey an opportunity to lighten their caseload and possibly even create specialty courts.

Judge Milanowski said they considered establishing a treatment court in Vilas.

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