Powers and duties of circuit court commissioners. 757.69(1)(1)
A circuit court commissioner may:
Direct a case to the proper court if the defendant wishes to enter a plea after intelligent waiver of rights.
In criminal matters issue summonses, arrest warrants or search warrants, determine probable cause to support a warrantless arrest, conduct initial appearances of persons arrested, set bail, inform the defendant in accordance with s. 970.02 (1)
, refer the person to the authority for indigency determinations specified under s. 977.07 (1)
, conduct the preliminary examination and arraignment, and, with the consent of both the state and the defendant, accept a guilty plea. If a court refers a disputed restitution issue under s. 973.20 (13) (c) 4.
, the circuit court commissioner shall conduct the hearing on the matter in accordance with s. 973.20 (13) (c) 4.
Conduct initial appearances in traffic cases and county ordinance cases, in traffic regulation cases and county ordinance cases receive noncontested forfeiture pleas, order the revocation or suspension of operating privileges and impose monetary penalties according to a schedule adopted by a majority of the judges of the courts of record within the county, and refer applicable cases to court for enforcement for nonpayment.
In small claims actions, conduct initial return appearance and conciliation conferences.
Issue warrants and capiases for those who do not appear as summoned.
When assigned to assist a court in juvenile matters:
Order the release or detention of children or expectant mothers of unborn children taken into custody.
Exercise the powers and perform the duties specified in par. (j)
, whichever is applicable, in proceedings under s. 813.122
in which the respondent is a child.
Conduct hearings under s. 48.21
and thereafter order a child or juvenile held in or released from custody.
Conduct hearings under s. 48.213
and thereafter order an adult expectant mother of an unborn child to be held in or released from custody.
Issue orders requiring compliance with deferred prosecution agreements.
Hear petitions for commitment and conduct probable cause hearings under ss. 51.20
, and 55.135
, conduct reviews of guardianships under ch. 54
and reviews of protective placements and protective services under ch. 55
, advise a person alleged to be mentally ill of his or her rights under the United States and Wisconsin constitutions, and, if the person claims or appears to be unable to afford counsel, refer the person to the authority for indigency determinations specified under s. 977.07 (1)
or, if the person is a child, refer that child to the state public defender who shall appoint counsel for the child without a determination of indigency, as provided in s. 48.23 (4)
Administer oaths, take, certify, and report depositions and testimony, take and certify acknowledgments, allow accounts, and fix the amount and approve the sufficiency of bonds.
Hold hearings, make findings, and issue temporary restraining orders and injunctions under s. 813.12
When assigned to assist in matters affecting the family:
Preside at any hearing held to determine whether a judgment of divorce shall be granted, if both parties state that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that all material issues, including but not limited to division of property or estate, legal custody, physical placement, child support, spousal maintenance and family support, are resolved or if one party does not participate in the action for divorce. A circuit court commissioner may grant and enter judgment in any action over which he or she presides under this subdivision unless the judgment modifies an agreement between the parties on material issues. If the circuit court commissioner does not approve an agreement between the parties on material issues, the action shall be certified to the court for trial.
Conduct hearings and enter judgments in actions for enforcement of, or revision of judgment for, maintenance, custody, physical placement or visitation.
Except when prohibited by the chief judge of the judicial administrative district, conduct hearings and enter orders and judgments in actions to establish paternity, in actions to establish or enforce a child support or a family support obligation and in actions to revise orders or judgments for child support or family support.
Circuit court commissioners assigned to assist a court in juvenile matters shall sit at the children's court center, the usual court facility for juvenile matters, or such other facility designated by the chief judge of the judicial administrative district. Those commissioners may not do any of the following:
Conduct fact-finding or dispositional hearings except on petitions or citations under s. 938.125
and except as provided in sub. (1) (g) 5.
Make dispositions other than approving consent decrees, ordering compliance with deferred prosecution agreements and ordering dispositions in uncontested proceedings under s. 48.13
, or 938.13
Conduct hearings for the termination of parental rights or for adoptions.
Make changes in placements of children, of juveniles, or of the expectant mothers of unborn children, or revisions or extensions of dispositional orders, except pursuant to petitions or citations under s. 938.125
and in uncontested proceedings under s. 48.13
, or 938.13
A judge may refer to a circuit court commissioner cases in which:
The trial of an issue of fact requires the examination of an account, in which case the circuit court commissioner may be directed to report upon any specific question of fact involved therein.
The taking of an account is necessary for the information of the court before judgment or for carrying a judgment or order into effect.
A question of fact other than upon the pleadings arises.
Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are to be prepared pertaining to default mortgage and land contract foreclosures and mechanics liens.
Circuit court commissioners may exercise, under their own authority, all of the powers listed under s. 757.675 (2)
A circuit court commissioner shall cooperate with the county and the department to ensure that all dependent children receive reasonable and necessary child support.
Any decision of a circuit court commissioner shall be reviewed by the judge of the branch of court to which the case has been assigned, upon motion of any party. Any determination, order, or ruling by a circuit court commissioner may be certified to the branch of court to which the case has been assigned, upon a motion of any party for a hearing de novo.
History: 1977 c. 323
; 1979 c. 32
; 1979 c. 89
; 1979 c. 209
; 1979 c. 352
; 1983 a. 279
; 1985 a. 126
; 1987 a. 3
; 1989 a. 7
; Sup. Ct. Order, 158 Wis. 2d xxv (1990); 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 318
; 1995 a. 77
; 1997 a. 191
; 1999 a. 32
; 2001 a. 16
; 2001 a. 61
; 2001 a. 105
; 2005 a. 264
; 2007 a. 45
; 2009 a. 79
; 2011 a. 181
Section 970.04 specifically limits the availability of a second preliminary examination in a criminal matter and precludes a request for a de novo hearing under the more general sub. (8). State v. Gillespie, 2005 WI App 35
, 278 Wis. 2d 630
, 693 N.W.2d 320
The issuance of a search warrant is not an exercise of "[t]he judicial power," as that phrase is employed in Art. VII, s. 2. Instead, issuance of a valid search warrant requires that the individual be authorized by law to issue the warrant, that he or she be neutral and detached, and that the warrant be issued only upon a showing of probable cause. Sub. (1) (b) does not impermissibly intrude upon "[t]he judicial power" granted to the courts by Art. VII, s. 2 and is constitutional. State v. Williams, 2012 WI 59
, 341 Wis. 2d 191
, 814 NW 2d 460, 10-1551
The provision in sub. (8) for a circuit court to conduct a "hearing de novo" on review of a court commissioner's order presupposes that the court commissioner has conducted a hearing. A de novo hearing is a new hearing of a matter, conducted as if the original hearing had not taken place. Thus, a local rule precluding a new hearing upon stipulation or default does nothing more than expressly advise as to the practical consequences of consenting to a court commissioner's order. Nehls v. Nehls, 2012 WI App 85
, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___, 11-2330
Hearings before court commissioners. 757.70(1)
All proceedings and hearings before a court commissioner shall be public and open to every citizen, except juvenile proceedings or when it is necessary for the court in which the action or proceeding is pending to impose by order restrictions under its inherent power to conduct proceedings in camera.
All hearings before a circuit or supplemental court commissioner shall be held in the county courthouse or other court facilities provided by law. This provision does not apply to nontestimonial proceedings, supplementary hearings on the present financial status of a debtor under s. 757.675 (2) (h)
or depositions taken before a circuit or supplemental court commissioner.
History: 1977 c. 323
; 2001 a. 61
"Commission" means the judicial commission created by s. 757.83
"Judge" means a judge of any court established by or pursuant to article VII, section 2 or 14, of the constitution
, or a supreme court justice.
"Misconduct" includes any of the following:
Willful violation of a rule of the code of judicial ethics.
Willful or persistent failure to perform official duties.
Habitual intemperance, due to consumption of intoxicating beverages or use of dangerous drugs, which interferes with the proper performance of judicial duties.
"Panel" means a judicial conduct and disability panel constituted under s. 757.87
"Permanent disability" means a physical or mental incapacity which impairs the ability of a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner to substantially perform the duties of his or her judicial office and which is or is likely to be of a permanent or continuing nature.
The provisions for judicial disciplinary proceedings under ss. 757.81 to 757.99 are constitutional. In Matter of Complaint Against Seraphim, 97 Wis. 2d 485
, 294 N.W.2d 485
A violation of the code of judicial conduct is "willful" for purposes of sub. (4) when the judge's conduct was not the result of duress or coercion and when the judge knew or should have known that the conduct was prohibited by the code. Although a judge may commit a "willful" violation constituting judicial misconduct when the judge has no actual knowledge that his or her conduct is prohibited by the code, the judge's actual knowledge, or lack thereof, of the code is relevant to the issue of discipline. Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Ziegler, 2008 WI 47
, 309 Wis. 2d 253
, 750 N.W.2d 710
Judicial commission. 757.83(1)(a)(a)
There is created a judicial commission of 9 members: 5 nonlawyers nominated by the governor and appointed with the advice and consent of the senate; one trial judge of a court of record and one court of appeals judge appointed by the supreme court; and 2 members of the State Bar of Wisconsin, who are not judges or court commissioners, appointed by the supreme court. The commission shall elect one of its members as chairperson.
The term of a member is 3 years, but a member shall not serve more than 2 consecutive full terms. A vacancy is filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired term. Members of the commission shall receive compensation of $25 per day for each day on which they were actually and necessarily engaged in the performance of their duties and shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred as members of the commission.
(2) Quorum; voting.
A majority of the commission constitutes a quorum. The commission may issue a formal complaint or a petition only upon a finding of probable cause by a majority of the total membership not disqualified from voting. A member must be present to vote on the question of probable cause. A member shall not participate in any matter if a judge similarly situated would be disqualified in a court proceeding.
The commission shall promulgate rules under ch. 227
for its proceedings.
The judicial commission shall hire an executive director, and may hire one staff member, in the unclassified service. The executive director shall be a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin and shall provide staff services to the judicial commission.
See also JC
, Wis. adm. code.
Investigation; prosecution. 757.85(1)(a)
The commission shall investigate any possible misconduct or permanent disability of a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner. Misconduct constitutes cause under article VII, section 11, of the constitution
. Except as provided in par. (b)
, judges, circuit or supplemental court commissioners, clerks, court reporters, court employees and attorneys shall comply with requests by the commission for information, documents and other materials relating to an investigation under this section.
The judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner who is under investigation is not subject to the request procedure under par. (a)
but is subject to the subpoena procedure under sub. (2)
The commission may issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and to command the production of books, papers, documents or tangible things designated in the subpoena in connection with an investigation under this section.
The commission may notify a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner that the commission is investigating possible misconduct by or permanent disability of the judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner. Before finding probable cause, the commission shall notify the judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner of the substance of the complaint or petition and afford the judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner a reasonable opportunity to respond. If the judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner responds, the commission shall consider the response before it finds probable cause.
The commission may require a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner who is under investigation for permanent disability to submit to a medical examination arranged by the commission.
The commission shall, upon a finding of probable cause that a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner has engaged or is engaging in misconduct, file a formal complaint with the supreme court. Upon a finding of probable cause that a judge or circuit or supplemental court commissioner has a permanent disability, the commission shall file a petition with the supreme court. If the commission requests a jury under s. 757.87 (1)
, the request shall be attached to the formal complaint or the petition.