Clerk of court. 59.40(1)(1)
Clerk of court; deputies; chief deputy; division chief deputies; calendar deputy clerk in certain counties. 59.40(1)(a)(a) Counties of less than 500,000 population.
Every clerk of the circuit court shall appoint one or more deputies and the appointments shall be approved by the majority of circuit judges for the county, but shall be revocable by the clerk at pleasure, except in counties having a population of 500,000 or more. The appointments and revocations shall be in writing and shall be filed in the clerk's office. The deputies shall aid the clerk in the discharge of the clerk's duties. In the absence of the clerk from the office or from the court, the deputies may perform all the clerk's duties; or in case of a vacancy by resignation, death, removal or other cause the deputy appointed shall perform all such duties until the vacancy is filled.
(b) Counties of more than 500,000 population.
In counties having a population of 500,000 or more the clerk shall appoint one chief deputy and 4 assistant chief deputy clerks, 3 calendar deputy clerks, and one or more deputy clerks as the board authorizes. The deputy clerks shall aid the clerk in the discharge of the clerk's duties under the supervision of the clerk, the chief deputy clerk and the assistant chief deputy clerks. The appointments of the chief deputy clerk who is exempt from classified civil service and the calendar deputy clerks shall be in writing and filed in the clerk's office. These appointments shall be approved by the chief judge of the judicial administrative district, but are revocable at the pleasure of the clerk. The chief deputy clerk has all powers and duties of assistant chief deputy clerks, deputy clerks, and other court assistants except bailiffs and reporters and in the absence of the clerk from the office or from the court, the chief deputy clerk may perform all of the clerk's duties; or in case of a vacancy by resignation, death, removal or other cause the chief deputy clerk shall perform all such duties until the vacancy is filled.
(2) Clerk of court; to keep court papers, books and records.
The clerk of circuit court shall:
File and keep all papers properly deposited with him or her in every action or proceeding unless required to transmit the papers. The papers may be microfilmed or microphotographed, or transferred to optical disks or electronic format if authorized under s. 59.52 (14)
, and the originals may thereafter be destroyed upon compliance with SCR chapter 72
Keep a court record and write in that record the names of parties in every civil action or proceeding in the court, the names of attorneys representing the parties, a brief statement of the nature of the action or proceeding, the date of filing every paper therein and of each proceeding taken, the file in which the papers can be found, the time when the action or proceeding is put on the calendar for trial, and when and how the action or proceeding is disposed of; the location where minutes in every case can be found and the place in the judgment record or microfilm or optical disc or electronic file where any judgment, order or report has been recorded, so as to make the court record a history in brief of each action or proceeding from beginning to final disposition; and a complete index of all proceedings therein.
Keep a criminal record and write in that record a history in every criminal action like the court record in civil actions and proceedings with references to the file where papers in the action can be found, to the minute record and to the information record where indictments and informations can be found.
Keep a minute record and, except for actions under ch. 799
, write in that record a brief statement of all proceedings in open court showing motions and orders during trial, names of witnesses, jurors selected, the officer sworn to take them in charge, jury verdicts and openings and adjournments of court. The clerk, in lieu of keeping a minute record, may elect to incorporate in the appropriate court record, civil or criminal, the data which this paragraph requires to be recorded.
Keep a judgment and lien docket of all money judgments of the court, transcripts from judgment and lien dockets of other Wisconsin courts and of federal courts, warrants for unemployment insurance and warrants for delinquent Wisconsin income or franchise taxes.
Keep a judgment and lien docket of all claims for liens filed by prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, service providers, and laborers and all claims filed for log, mining, and maintenance liens.
Keep an index to the court record, the criminal record, the judgment record and the lien record.
File, enter, record and keep such other papers, books and records as are required by law.
Keep a record called registers of officials and write or copy in the record in tabular form the names of circuit and supplemental court commissioners, deputy sheriffs, and municipal judges. The clerk shall list the officers' names, the dates of their qualification, and the commencement and termination, if any, of their terms. The names shall be in alphabetical order or there shall be an index in alphabetical order to the names.
Keep a record called certificate lists and write or copy in the record a list of all certificates issued by him or her to witnesses, interpreters, jurors, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and deputy clerks, stating the persons to whom issued, the number, date and amount of each certificate. At each annual session of the board, the board may request that the clerk prepare a summary report of certificates issued in the previous year.
Pay monthly to the treasurer for the use of the state the state's percentage of the costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814
that are required to be paid on each civil action, criminal action, and special proceeding filed during the preceding month and pay monthly to the treasurer for the use of the state the percentage of court imposed fines and forfeitures that are required by law to be deposited in the state treasury. The payments shall be made by the 15th day of the month following receipt of the payments.
Pay monthly to the treasurer the amounts required by s. 302.46 (1)
for the jail assessment surcharge and the amounts required by s. 973.0455 (2)
. The payments shall be made by the 15th day of the month following receipt thereof.
Address process to the coroner if a party, the party's agent or the party's attorney files an affidavit that the party believes the sheriff will not properly perform the sheriff's duty in such action.
Cooperate with the department of children and families with respect to the child and spousal support and establishment of paternity and medical support liability program under ss. 49.22
and 59.53 (5)
, and provide that department with any information from court records which it requires to administer that program.
Perform all other duties that are required by law.
(3) Clerk of court; fees; investment of funds. 59.40(3)(a)(a)
The clerk of the circuit court shall collect the fees that are prescribed in ss. 814.60
. The clerk may refuse to accept any paper for filing or recording until the fee prescribed in subch. II of ch. 814
or any applicable statute is paid.
Except as provided in par. (c)
, the clerk may invest any funds that are paid into his or her office and are being held for repayment. The investments shall be made in suitably protected accounts in the manner specified in s. 66.0603 (1m)
and all income that may accrue shall be paid into the county general fund.
A judge may direct that par. (b)
does not apply to certain funds paid into the office. The judge's authority applies only to funds relating to cases before his or her court.
(4) Clerk of circuit court; debt collector contract.
If authorized by the board under s. 59.52 (28)
, the clerk of circuit court may contract with a debt collector, as defined in s. 427.103 (3)
, or enter into an agreement with the department of revenue under s. 71.93 (8)
for the collection of debt. Any contract entered into with a debt collector shall provide that the debt collector shall be paid from the proceeds recovered by the debt collector. Any contract entered into with the department shall provide that the department shall charge a collection fee, as provided under s. 71.93 (8) (b) 1.
The net proceeds received by the clerk of circuit court after the payment to the debt collector shall be considered the amount of debt collected for purposes of distribution to the state and county under sub. (2) (m)
(5) Clerk of circuit court; credit and debit cards; payment plans. 59.40(5)(a)1.
"Credit card" means a card or other similar device existing for the purpose of obtaining money, property, or services on credit under an open-end credit agreement.
"Debit card" means a card or other similar device existing for the purpose of obtaining money, property, or services through the use of a depository-institution access device.
"Depository-institution access device" means a terminal or other facility or installation, attended or unattended, that is not located at the principal place of business or at a branch or remote facility of a depository institution and through which depository institutions and their customers may engage, by means of either the direct transmission of electronic impulses to and from a depository institution or the recording of electronic impulses or other indicia of a transaction for delayed transmission to a depository institution, in transactions that are incidental to the conduct of the business of a depository institution.
"Open-end credit agreement" means an agreement under which credit is extended on an account and under which all of the following are true:
The debtor may make purchases or obtain loans, from time to time, directly from the creditor or indirectly by use of a credit card, check, or other device, as the plan may provide.
The debtor has the privilege of paying the balance in full or in installments.
The creditor may from time to time assess a charge, computed on any outstanding unpaid balance.
The clerk of circuit court may accept a credit card or debit card for any required payment to the clerk of circuit court and may charge and collect a reasonable service fee for the use of a credit card or debit card. The county board shall establish the amount of the service fee, which shall be retained in full by the county.
The clerk of circuit court may charge and collect a fee for the establishment and monitoring of a payment plan for persons ordered to make payments to the clerk of circuit court. The amount of the fee may not exceed $15 and shall be on a sliding scale based on the person's ability to pay in view of the person's income.
History: 1995 a. 27
; 1995 a. 201
; 1995 a. 224
; 1995 a. 227
; 1995 a. 279
; 1995 a. 404
; 1995 a. 438
; 1995 a. 448
; Sup. Ct. Order No. 96-08
, 207 Wis. 2d xv (1997); 1997 a. 3
; 1997 a. 35
; 1997 a. 39
; 1999 a. 9
; 1999 a. 150
; 2001 a. 16
; 2003 a. 33
; 2005 a. 25
; 2007 a. 20
; 2013 a. 107
; 2015 a. 55
See s. 758.13
as to furnishing information to the judicial council.
See ss. 753.30
, and 889.09
as to authenticating, certifying, and transmitting documents.
See chs. 818
as to receiving bail.
See ch. 756
as to performing duties with respect to jurors.
See s. 757.40
as to care for the county law library.
See ch. 814
as to taxing costs and collecting fees.
See ch. 815
as to issuing executions and writs of assistance.
See s. 885.01
as to issuing and signing subpoenas.
See s. 779.07
as to keeping a lien docket.
When a clerk of court customarily supplied an affidavit form to persons claiming witness fees, the statutes, as well as custom and common sense, required the clerk to furnish the form affidavit for signing, and entitled the petitioner to expect that the service, routinely furnished others, would be available to him. State ex rel. Hurley v. Schmidley, 48 Wis. 2d 659
, 180 N.W.2d 605
Under s. 59.42 (1) [now 59.40 (3) (a)], a clerk retains discretion to refuse to file documents unless the fee is tendered, even though the standard may result in inconsistent policies among the counties. Giese v. LIRC, 153 Wis. 2d 212
, 450 N.W.2d 489
(Ct. App. 1989).
The payment to a county under s. 59.42 (2) [now 59.40 (3) (b)] of interest earned on a condemnation award deposited with the clerk is not an unconstitutional taking. Brongman v. Douglas County, 164 Wis. 2d 718
, 476 N.W.2d 611
(Ct. App. 1991).
The express powers to appoint and discharge deputies under this section are separate from those of the county and are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement entered into by the county. Crawford County v. WERC, 177 Wis. 2d 66
, 501 N.W.2d 836
(Ct. App. 1993).
Crawford County v. WERC
is restricted to its facts. Deputized employees, apart from a chief deputy, are exempt from the terms of collective bargaining agreements only to the extent that they are managerial or supervisory employees. Eau Claire County v. AFSCME Local 2223, 190 Wis. 2d 298
, 526 N.W.2d 802
(Ct. App. 1994).
Removal by the clerk of court of an employee with dual employment status as deputy court clerk and judicial assistant from the judicial assistant position was not authorized by sub. (1). The removal was subject to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Winnebago County v. Courthouse Employees Association, 196 Wis. 2d 733
, 540 N.W.2d 240
(Ct. App. 1995), 94-2504
For a paper to be filed, it must be properly deposited with the clerk under s. 59.40 (2). "Properly" connotes complying with formality or correctness, but is not susceptible to exact definition. Delivery of papers to the clerk at his home after business hours was too far removed from legislative guidelines to be considered "properly deposited." Granado v. Sentry Insurance, 228 Wis. 2d 794
, 599 N.W.2d 62
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-3675
Except for their elected superior's power to appoint and discharge, chief deputies are subject to the Municipal Employment Relations Act, ss. 111.70 to 111.77, and are not excluded from a collective bargaining unit as a matter of law. Oneida County v. WERC, 2000 WI App 191
, 238 Wis. 2d 763
, 618 N.W.2d 891
When read in conjunction with s. 32.05 (7) (d), sub. (3) (c) empowers a circuit judge to veto the clerk's authority to invest a condemnation award and to direct the clerk to transfer the award from the clerk's control into a private account for the benefit of the persons named in the award or to otherwise invest the funds for the benefit of those persons. Sub. (3) (c) empowers a circuit judge not only to veto the clerk's authority to invest and control the interest on condemnation awards but also to veto the clerk's authority over "certain" other funds deposited with the clerk, so long as the funds relate to a case before the judge's court. HSBC Realty Credit Corporation v. City of Glendale, 2007 WI 94
, 303 Wis. 2d 1
, 735 N.W.2d 77
holds that the court clerk as a constitutional officer has the discretion to adopt a policy, as long as the policy complies with the statutory guidelines indicating when and where the clerk's duties should be performed. In his or her discretion, the clerk may adopt a policy that is flexible or one that restricts filings to regular business hours. Hartford Citizens for Responsible Government v. City of Hartford Board of Zoning Appeals, 2008 WI App 107
, 313 Wis. 2d 431
, 756 N.W.2d 454
A county civil service ordinance enacted under s. 59.07 (20) [now 59.52 (8)] or a collective bargaining agreement under s. 111.70, establishing a procedure to be followed prior to discharge of a classified employee, supersedes and modifies s. 59.38 (1) [now s. 59.40 (1) (a)]. 63 Atty. Gen. 147.
Clerks of court may not send original records of criminal cases to the public defender prior to appeal unless a judge authorizes the release. 69 Atty. Gen. 63.
Not to act as attorney.
No person acting as clerk of any circuit court in this state may practice as an attorney or solicitor in the court in which the person is acting as clerk; and the person shall not be eligible for the office of municipal judge during the time that the person holds the office of the clerk.
History: 1977 c. 305
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.41.
Corporation counsel. 59.42(1)(1)
Corporation counsel; certain counties. 59.42(1)(a)(a)
Except as provided under par. (b)
, in counties not having a population of 500,000 or more, the board may employ a corporation counsel, and fix the salary of the corporation counsel. The corporation counsel appointed under this paragraph may be terminated at any time by a majority vote of all the members of the board.
In any county with a county executive or county administrator, the county executive or county administrator shall have the authority to appoint and supervise the corporation counsel if the board authorizes the establishment of the office of corporation counsel. Such appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the board unless the board, by ordinance, elects to waive confirmation or unless the appointment is made under a civil service system competitive examination procedure established under s. 59.52 (8)
or ch. 63
. The corporation counsel may be removed by the county executive or county administrator with the concurrence of the board unless the corporation counsel is appointed under such an examination procedure.
The corporation counsel may, when authorized by a majority of the board, appoint one or more assistant corporation counsels to aid the corporation counsel in the performance of the duties of corporation counsel. The assistants so appointed shall have authority to perform all the duties of the corporation counsel. The duties of the corporation counsel shall be limited to civil matters and may include giving legal opinions to the board and its committees and interpreting the powers and duties of the board and county officers. Whenever any of the powers and duties conferred upon the corporation counsel are concurrent with similar powers or duties conferred by law upon the district attorney, the district attorney's powers or duties shall cease to the extent that they are so conferred upon the corporation counsel and the district attorney shall be relieved of the responsibility for performing such powers or duties. Opinions of the corporation counsel on all such matters shall have the same effect as opinions of the district attorney. The corporation counsel may request the attorney general to consult and advise with the corporation counsel in the same manner as district attorneys as provided by s. 165.25 (3)
(2) Corporation counsel in special counties; appointment, dismissal and duties. 59.42(2)(a)(a)
In a county with a population of 500,000 or more there is created the office of corporation counsel, and such deputy corporation counsels, assistants, stenographers and clerks at such salaries as are authorized by the board. The corporation counsel and deputy and assistant corporation counsels shall be attorneys at law licensed to practice in this state. All such offices and positions shall be in the classified civil service of the county except the corporation counsel, who is in the unclassified service. The corporation counsel shall be appointed by the county executive, with the concurrence of a majority of the board and shall not serve at the pleasure of the county executive. Any incumbent corporation counsel serving on August 1, 1990, shall retain that position and title until a new appointee is confirmed by the board. The corporation counsel may be dismissed at any time by the county executive with the concurrence of a majority of the members-elect of the board. The corporation counsel may also be dismissed at any time by a majority vote of the board. If the county executive vetoes an action by the board to dismiss the corporation counsel, the board may override the veto by a two-thirds vote of the members-elect of the board. The corporation counsel shall appoint deputies, assistants and clerical and stenographic help. Deputy corporation counsels shall have, according to their rank and seniority, the powers and duties of the corporation counsel in his or her absence or disability. The corporation counsel and deputy corporation counsels shall take and file the constitutional oath of office.
The duties of the corporation counsel and assistant corporation counsels shall be, without limitation because of enumeration, to:
Prosecute and defend all civil actions, proceedings, applications and motions in any court, commission, board, tribunal or body in any jurisdiction of this or other states or of the nation in which the county or any board, commission, committee or officer thereof is interested or a party by virtue of the office; and shall in like manner represent or assist in representing the state, or any commission, board, agency or tribunal of the state, in such civil actions or proceedings when requested to do so by the attorney general or when the district attorney of the county is required by any statute to do so.
Give advice to the board, county park commission, county department under s. 46.215
and other departments, boards, commissions, committees, agencies or officers of the county, when requested, in all civil matters in which the county or state is interested or relating to the discharge of the official duties of such departments, boards, commissions, committees, agencies or officers; examine all claims against the county for officers', interpreters', witnesses' and jurors' fees in civil actions and examinations, when presented to the county board of supervisors, and report in writing thereto as to the liability of the county for any and all claims of whatever nature filed against it; and act as legislative counsel for the county board of supervisors when so authorized by it.
Serve as legal adviser to the county highway commissioner and county highway committee, draw all papers required in the performance of their duties and attend to all civil legal matters in and out of court where the commissioner or committee is a party or wherein the acquisition of lands for state or county highway purposes is concerned.
Perform all duties in connection with civil matters relating to the county or any agency, board, commission or officer thereof or to the state within the county that are imposed by any statute upon the district attorney of the county and for such purposes the term "district attorney" wherever it appears in the statutes relating to duties of a civil nature shall, with regard to counties containing a population of 500,000 or more, mean the corporation counsel. Opinions of the corporation counsel shall have the same force and effect as opinions of the district attorney except that in matters relating to elections the district attorney shall have the right of review. After May 17, 1957, the district attorney's powers and duties as to civil matters shall cease to the extent that they are conferred upon the corporation counsel and the district attorney shall be relieved of the responsibility of performing such duties. The corporation counsel may request the attorney general to consult and advise with the corporation counsel in the same manner as district attorneys under s. 165.25 (3)
Review and countersign all contracts to verify that the contracts comply with all statutes, rules, ordinances, and the county's ethics policy. This subdivision applies only in a county with a population of 750,000 or more.
(3) Corporation counsel; attorney designee.
In lieu of employing a corporation counsel under sub. (1)
or in addition to employing a corporation counsel under sub. (1)
or (2) (a)
, a board shall designate an attorney to perform the duties of a corporation counsel as the need arises. Two or more counties may jointly designate an attorney to perform the duties of a corporation counsel. If an attorney has been designated to perform the duties of a corporation counsel, that person may exercise any powers and perform any duties of the corporation counsel.
History: 1995 a. 201
; 2011 a. 62
Under s. 59.07 (44) [now 59.42 (1)], a corporation counsel may apprise a county board of the consequences, both civil and criminal, that result from specific actions of the board. State v. Davis, 63 Wis. 2d 75
, 216 N.W.2d 31
A corporation counsel should provide legal advice and representation to ss. 51.42/51.437 boards, as well as to the county board. 63 Atty. Gen. 468.
Appointment, supervision, and removal of a corporation counsel is discussed. 72 Atty. Gen. 161
In a county with a population of under 500,000 with a county executive and a salaried corporation counsel, the county board may retain the services of a private attorney to provide legal services in civil matters to the county board and human resources department. The county board must authorize, approve, and establish the parameters for such contracts; contract negotiation and administration are duties performed by the county executive. OAG 1-13
Register of deeds; duties, fees, deputies. 59.43(1)(1)
Register of deeds; duties.
Subject to sub. (1m)
, the register of deeds shall:
Record or cause to be recorded in suitable books to be kept in his or her office, correctly and legibly all deeds, mortgages, instruments, and writings authorized by law to be recorded in his or her office and left with him or her for that purpose, provided the documents have plainly printed or typewritten on the document the names of the grantors, grantees, witnesses, and notary. The register of deeds shall record or file or cause to be recorded or filed all plats and certified survey maps that are authorized to be accepted for recording or filing in his or her office. Any county, by a resolution adopted by the board, may combine the separate books or volumes for deeds, mortgages, miscellaneous instruments, attachments, lis pendens, sales and notices, certificates of organization of corporations, plats, or other recorded or filed instruments or classes of documents as long as separate indexes may be produced. Notwithstanding any other provisions of the statutes, any county adopting a system of microfilming or like process or a system of recording documents by optical imaging or electronic formatting under ch. 228
may substitute the headings, reel, disk, or electronic file name and microfilm image (frame) for volume and page where recorded and different classes of instruments may be recorded, reproduced, or copied on or transferred to the same reel, disk, or electronic file or part of a reel or disk. All recordings made prior to June 28, 1961, which would have been valid under this paragraph, had this paragraph then been in effect, are validated by this paragraph. In this subsection, "book", if automated recording or indexing equipment is used, includes the meaning given under sub. (12) (d)
State upon the record of any conveyance of real estate the real estate transfer fee paid or, if the conveyance is not subject to a fee, the reason for the exemption, citing the relevant subsection of s. 77.25
safely and maintain the documents, images of recorded documents and indexes mentioned in this section and in s. 84.095
in the manner required.
Endorse upon each instrument or writing received by the register for record a certificate of the
date and time when it was received, specifying the day, hour and minute of reception, which shall be evidence of such facts.
Instruments shall be recorded in the order in which they are received.
Endorse plainly on each instrument a number consecutive to the number assigned to the immediately previously recorded or filed instrument, such that all numbers are unique for each instrument within a group of public records that are kept together as a unit and relate to a particular subject.