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Busy Vilas County Court May Get Another Judge Under New Law


Last year, Vilas County opened more than 700 new criminal cases.

Almost all of them went before the county’s only circuit court judge, Neal Nielsen.

That made him one of the busiest judges in the state.  Statistics show Nielsen is doing the work of about one and a half judges, ranking third in the state in judicial need.

“Obviously, we would like to be able to devote an appropriate amount of time to each case and to resolve those cases swiftly so that everyone had confidence that this was a system that worked well for the citizens of the state,” Nielsen said.

But Vilas County may be getting relief soon under a new bill signed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Last Thursday, Evers approved a measure that will add 12 new circuit court judges statewide by 2023.

It’s the first time since 2010 judges have been added in the state.

“It’s been a long time since any new judgeships were created statewide,” Nielsen said.  “As you can see with the judgeship bill just being completed, it is a process.”

“Our justice system has been doing more with less for far too long, and today we are taking another step in ensuring that our justice system is operating efficiently and best serving our communities,” Evers said in a statement.

The director of state courts has the power to choose which counties will get an additional judicial branch.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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