Supervise accountings subsequent to a sale of land under ch. 75
Except as provided in s. 767.13 (5) (c)
, conduct a paternity proceeding according to the procedures set out in ch. 767
whenever a court commissioner is specifically authorized to do so.
Conduct supplementary hearings on the present financial status of a debtor and exercise the powers of the court under ss. 816.04
In addition to the duties expressly set forth in sub. (3) (a)
, a court commissioner may perform other ministerial duties as required by a court.
A court commissioner may transfer to a court any matter in which it appears that justice would be better served by such a transfer.
Every judge of a court of record has the powers and duties of a court commissioner.
A court commissioner shall refer to a court of record for appropriate action every alleged showing of contempt in the carrying out of the lawful decisions of the commissioner.
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 W (2d) xxv (1990); 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 318
; 1995 a. 77
Judicial Council Note, 1987: Sub. (3) (h), stats., is amended to clarify that a court commissioner who conducts a hearing on the present financial status of a judgment debtor may appoint a receiver in aid of execution, direct the application of nonexempt assets to the satisfaction of the judgment, and allow fees, costs and disbursements to the judgment creditor or any party at the hearing. [87 Act 71]
Effective date note
Judicial Council Note, 1990: The amendments to subs. (1), (2) and (3) give juvenile court commissioners, probate court commissioners and family court commissioners the same authority as court commissioners appointed under s. 757.68, and allow court commissioners appointed under s. 757.68 to be delegated the authority to act as juvenile court commissioners, probate court commissioners or family court commissioners. [Re Order eff. 1-1-91]
Failure of judge to formally authorize commissioner to issue search warrants was nothing more than judicial oversight and did not justify suppression of evidence. State v. Verkuylen, 120 W (2d) 59, 352 NW (2d) 668 (Ct. App. 1984).
Non-lawyer court reporters cannot be delegated power to issue criminal warrants and conduct initial appearances under (1) (b). 72 Atty. Gen. 39
Court commissioners; small claims matters.
If a court commissioner has been appointed under s. 757.68 (1) (b)
to assist in the administration of small claims matters, the commissioner shall conduct the hearings and proceedings as prescribed by ch. 799
and shall have the following additional duties and authority:
Grant and enter default judgments and approve stipulations.
Conduct conferences and hearings with the parties or their attorneys or both on the return dates and adjourned dates, if any.
Issue decisions in matters that come before the commissioner. The decisions shall become judgments under s. 799.207 (2)
History: 1977 c. 345
; 1979 c. 32
s. 92 (16)
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 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. 757.69 (3) (h)
or depositions taken before a court commissioner.
History: 1977 c. 323
Office of probate court commissioner. 757.72(1)
In counties having a population of 500,000 or more, there is created in the classified civil service the office of probate court commissioner. In counties having a population of at least 100,000 but not more than 500,000, the county board may create the office of probate court commissioner which may be in the classified civil service.
Judges assigned probate jurisdiction may assign to the probate court commissioners any matters over which the judges have jurisdiction, and the probate court commissioners may determine such matters and may sign any order or certificate required in such determination.
Probate court commissioners shall receive such salary and be furnished with quarters, necessary office furnishings and supplies as determined by the county board.
In counties having a population of 500,000 or more the chief judge of the judicial administrative district shall appoint and may remove probate court commissioners under ss. 63.01
. In counties having a population of at least 100,000 but not more than 500,000 the chief judge shall appoint and may remove any probate court commissioner if cause is proven. Probate court commissioners shall be attorneys licensed to practice in this state.
The register in probate of a county shall have the duties and powers of a probate court commissioner and shall act in that capacity when designated to do so by a judge assigned probate jurisdiction.
Before entering upon the performance of their duties, probate court commissioners shall take and file the official oath.
Probate court commissioners shall by virtue of their respective positions, and to the extent required for the performance of their duties, each have the powers of a court commissioner.
The probate court commissioners may administer oaths, take depositions and testimony, and certify and report the depositions and testimony, take and certify acknowledgments, allow accounts and fix the amount and approve the sufficiency of bonds.
History: 1977 c. 323
"Commission" means the judicial commission created by s. 757.83
"Court commissioner" means a court commissioner under s. 757.68
, a family court commissioner under s. 767.13
, a juvenile court commissioner under s. 48.065
and a probate court commissioner under s. 757.72
"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:
Wilful violation of a rule of the code of judicial ethics.
Wilful 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 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.
Provisions for judicial disciplinary proceedings under 757.81 to 757.99 are constitutional. In Matter of Complaint Against Seraphim, 97 W (2d) 485, 294 NW (2d) 485 (1980).
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 and the judicial council.
Investigation; prosecution. 757.85(1)(a)(a)
The commission shall investigate any possible misconduct or permanent disability of a judge or court commissioner. Misconduct constitutes cause under article VII, section 11, of the constitution
. Except as provided in par. (b)
, judges, court commissioners, clerks, court reporters, court employes 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 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 court commissioner that the commission is investigating possible misconduct by or permanent disability of the judge or court commissioner. Before finding probable cause, the commission shall notify the judge or court commissioner of the substance of the complaint or petition and afford the judge or court commissioner a reasonable opportunity to respond. If the judge or court commissioner responds, the commission shall consider the response before it finds probable cause.
The commission may require a judge or 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 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 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.
The commission shall prosecute any case of misconduct or permanent disability in which it files a formal complaint or a petition.
Insofar as practicable, the procedures applicable to civil actions apply to proceedings under ss. 757.81
after the filing of a complaint or petition.
Request for jury; panel. 757.87(1)
After the commission has found probable cause that a judge or court commissioner has engaged in misconduct or has a permanent disability, and before the commission files a formal complaint or a petition under s. 757.85 (5)
, the commission may, by a majority of its total membership not disqualified from voting, request a jury hearing. If a jury is not requested, the matter shall be heard by a panel constituted under sub. (3)
. The vote of each member on the question of a jury request shall be recorded and shall be available for public inspection under s. 19.35
after the formal complaint or the petition is filed.
If a jury is requested under sub. (1)
, the hearing under s. 757.89
shall be before a jury selected under s. 805.08
. A jury shall consist of 6 persons, unless the commission specifies a greater number, not to exceed 12. Five-sixths of the jurors must agree on all questions which must be answered to arrive at a verdict. A court of appeals judge shall be selected by the chief judge of the court of appeals to preside at the hearing, on the basis of experience as a trial judge and length of service on the court of appeals.
A judicial conduct and permanent disability panel shall consist of either 3 court of appeals judges or 2 court of appeals judges and one reserve judge. Each judge may be selected from any court of appeals district including the potential selection of all judges from the same district. The chief judge of the court of appeals shall select the judges and designate which shall be presiding judge.
A record shall be kept of any hearing on a formal complaint or a petition. The allegations of the complaint or petition must be proven to a reasonable certainty by evidence that is clear, satisfactory and convincing. The hearing shall be held in the county where the judge or court commissioner resides unless the presiding judge changes venue for cause shown or unless the parties otherwise agree. If the hearing is by a panel, the panel shall make findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations regarding appropriate discipline for misconduct or appropriate action for permanent disability and file the findings, conclusions and recommendations with the supreme court. If a jury hearing is requested under s. 757.87 (1)
, the presiding judge shall instruct the jury regarding the law applicable to judicial misconduct or permanent disability, as appropriate. The presiding judge shall file the jury verdict and his or her recommendations regarding appropriate discipline for misconduct or appropriate action for permanent disability with the supreme court.
Supreme court; disposition.
The supreme court shall review the findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations under s. 757.89
and determine appropriate discipline in cases of misconduct and appropriate action in cases of permanent disability. The rules of the supreme court applicable to civil cases in the supreme court govern the review proceedings under this section.
History: 1977 c. 449
; 1983 a. 378
Confidentiality of proceedings. 757.93(1)(a)(a)
All proceedings under ss. 757.81
relating to misconduct or permanent disability prior to the filing of a petition or formal complaint by the commission are confidential unless a judge or court commissioner waives the right to confidentiality in writing to the commission. Any such waiver does not affect the confidentiality of the identity of a person providing information under par. (b)
Any person who provides information to the commission concerning possible misconduct or permanent disability may request that the commission not disclose his or her identity to the judge or court commissioner prior to the filing of a petition or a formal complaint by the commission.
If prior to the filing of a formal complaint or a petition an investigation of possible misconduct or permanent disability becomes known to the public, the commission may issue statements in order to confirm the pendency of the investigation, to clarify the procedural aspects of the disciplinary proceedings, to explain the right of the judge or court commissioner to a fair hearing without prejudgment, to state that the judge or court commissioner denies the allegations, to state that an investigation has been completed and no probable cause was found or to correct public misinformation.
The petition or formal complaint filed under s. 757.85
by the commission and all subsequent hearings thereon are public.
This section does not preclude the commission, in its sole discretion, from:
Referring to the director of state courts information relating to an alleged delay or an alleged temporary disability of a judge or court commissioner.
Referring to an appropriate law enforcement authority information relating to possible criminal conduct or otherwise cooperating with a law enforcement authority in matters of mutual interest.
Referring to an attorney disciplinary agency information relating to the possible misconduct or incapacity of an attorney or otherwise cooperating with an attorney disciplinary agency in matters of mutual interest.
Disclosing to the chief justice or director of state courts information relating to matters affecting the administration of the courts.