2009 - 2010 LEGISLATURE
November 3, 2009 - Introduced by Senators Taylor, Risser, Erpenbach and Wirch,
cosponsored by Representatives
Seidel, Parisi, Pope-Roberts, Turner,
Tauchen, Pasch, Staskunas, Lothian, Berceau, Danou and Townsend.
Referred to Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign
Finance Reform, and Housing.
1An Act to repeal
755.09 (3), 800.01 (1) (b), 800.01 (1) (c), 800.02 (2) (a) 8m., 2
800.02 (3), 800.03, 800.04 (title), 800.04 (1) (a) to (c), 800.04 (1) (e), 800.04 (1) 3
(f), 800.04 (3), 800.04 (4), 800.04 (5), 800.05 (2), 800.09 (1) (c) and 800.09 (2); to
800.02 (2) (a) 1., 800.02 (2) (a) 2., 800.02 (2) (a) 5. and 6., 800.02 (2) 5
(a) 8., 800.02 (2) (a) 9., 800.02 (2) (a) 10., 800.04 (2) (a) and 800.05 (4); to
6renumber and amend
755.001, 755.01 (5), 800.02 (2) (a) (intro.), 800.02 (2) (a) 7
3., 800.02 (2) (a) 4., 800.02 (2) (a) 7., 800.04 (1) (d), 800.04 (2) (b), 800.04 (2) (c), 8
800.04 (2m), 800.09 (1) (intro.), 800.09 (1) (a) and 800.09 (1) (b);
9renumber and amend
800.01 (1) (intro.) and (a); to amend
165.83 (2) (e), 10
177.13, 302.373 (1) (b), 302.373 (2) (a), 343.30 (5), 345.43 (1), 345.47 (1) (a), 11
345.47 (1m), 565.30 (5r) (a), 565.30 (5r) (b), 755.01 (1), 755.01 (2), 755.01 (4), 12
755.02, 755.03 (1), 755.03 (2), 755.04, 755.045 (1) (a), 755.045 (2), 755.05, 13
755.06, 755.09 (1), 755.09 (2), 755.10, 755.11, 755.15, 755.16, 755.17 (title), 14
755.17 (1), 755.17 (2), 755.18 (title), 755.18 (1), 755.19 (2) (a), 755.21 (intro.),
778.30 (1) (intro.), 800.02 (1), 800.02 (2) (am), 800.02 (2) (b), 800.025, 800.05 2
(title), 800.05 (1), 800.05 (3), 800.06 (2), 800.06 (3), 800.065 (title), 800.065 (1), 3
800.065 (3), 800.065 (4), 800.07, 800.08 (1), 800.08 (2) (a), 800.08 (2) (b), 800.08 4
(3), 800.08 (4), 800.09 (title), 800.093 (1) (intro.), 800.093 (1) (a), 800.093 (2), 5
800.093 (3) (b) (intro.), 800.093 (4) (intro.), 800.093 (5) (intro.), 800.10 (1), 6
800.10 (2), 800.11 (1) (intro.), 800.11 (1) (a), 800.11 (1) (g), 800.11 (1) (q), 800.11 7
(2), 800.11 (3) (c), 800.11 (4), 800.13 (1), 800.14 (1), 800.14 (2), 800.14 (3), 800.14 8
(4), 800.14 (5), 800.14 (6) and 938.237 (2); to repeal and recreate
343.30 (5), 9
800.001, 800.01 (2), 800.02 (2) (title), 800.06 (1), 800.095, 800.115 and 800.12; 10
and to create
111.70 (4) (mc) 4., 755.001 (2), 755.001 (3), 755.17 (1m), 755.17 11
(3), 755.17 (4), 800.01 (2m), 800.02 (2) (ag) 1m., 800.02 (2) (ag) 9m., 800.035, 12
800.037, 800.045, 800.05 (4) (a), 800.05 (5), 800.085 and 800.09 (1b) (b), (c), (d) 13
and (e) of the statutes; relating to: municipal court elections, judges, and
14procedure, and providing penalties.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes numerous changes regarding municipal court administration,
judges, and procedures. Municipal courts operate in the cities, villages, and towns
of this state to enforce municipal ordinances. Generally, the procedures in municipal
court are less stringent than in circuit court, and violations of ordinances may result
in a civil forfeiture. The bill makes all of the following changes:
1. Makes municipal courts subject to the authority of the supreme court,
through the chief judge of the judicial administrative district.
2. Requires, in addition to current law that requires only the adoption of an
ordinance for a court to exist, that the court must submit written notice of the
ordinance to the director of state courts and receive certification from the chief judge
of the judicial administrative district.
3. Provides that the municipal court budget or line item be separate from the
budget of all other municipal departments.
4. Allows a municipal court to appoint a social worker to assist the court in
determining if a defendant lacks substantial mental capacity to understand the
proceeding or to assist in his or her defense. Currently, the court may appoint a
guardian ad litem in those situations. The new provision gives the court an
alternative choice of whom to appoint, and further clarifies that a determination of
incompetency results in the suspension of the proceedings.
5. Requires municipal judges to be elected for four-year terms, rather than the
two- to four-year terms as provided by ordinance under current law.
6. Gives municipal judges statewide jurisdiction.
7. Requires the municipality to provide the judge with an office or appropriate
work space and removes the restriction on a municipal judge from having an office
with a law partner.
8. Requires the municipality to authorize at least one clerk position for the
municipal court and gives the municipal judge authority over the hiring, work
responsibilities, and firing of court personnel. The bill provides that the judge's
supervisory authority is a prohibited subject of collective bargaining for court
personnel who are not employed by a city of the first class and requires the clerk to
attend continuing education programs approved by the supreme court.
9. Requires the municipal judge to store all municipal court records in an
appropriate facility designated by the municipality.
10. Requires a municipal judge to wear a black robe while presiding in a
municipal court and prohibits the clerk from wearing anything that implies or
indicates he or she is a law enforcement employee.
11. Prohibits the municipality from locating the municipal court or the court
personnel within the municipal police department and gives the judge the authority
to establish court hours, while requiring the municipality to provide an adequate
courtroom for the municipal court.
12. Requires each municipal court to have a telephone number or extension
separate from any other governmental department.
13. Allows service of the summons and complaint by first class mail, in addition
to the current methods of service that are identical to those permitted in circuit court,
but does not allow the suspension of a person's operating privilege or issuance of a
warrant if the defendant was served by mail.
14. Requires the law enforcement officer or municipal employee who serves a
summons and complaint to indicate the method of service on the documents filed
with the court.
15. Clarifies that a citation or complaint may be used to start the municipal
court action, and the action is commenced when the citation or complaint is filed with
16. Includes in the citation or complaint a statement as to whether the judge
mandates that the person make a personal appearance.
17. Includes in the citation or complaint the identification of a permit issued
to the defendant or the license number of the defendant, if appropriate.
18. Allows a citation or complaint to be amended after the initial appearance
of the defendant only at the discretion of the court after a hearing or at the trial by
the court to conform to the evidence.
19. Requires the service of a copy of an amended complaint when amendment
is made before an initial appearance.
20. Clarifies that a defendant may appear in municipal court in person or by
submitting a written response to the citation or complaint, except when the court
requires the defendant to appear in person.
21. Limits the time that a defendant may be detained in jail to 48 hours if the
defendant failed to make an initial appearance or make a deposit, if the court issued
a warrant to bring the defendant before the court.
22. Provides that the municipal court may schedule a pretrial conference in
those cases where a trial has been requested, and if the parties come to an agreement
at the conference, the court may approve the agreement or disapprove the agreement
and proceed to trial.
23. Clarifies that when a transfer of a case is made because of a request for the
substitution of a judge, the parties, including the prosecutor, remain the same, and
the amount of the judgment, if any, is paid to the original municipal court from which
the case was transferred.
24. Provides that if a municipal judge disqualifies himself or herself, the case
shall be transferred to another judge in the same manner as a judge substitution
25. Allows a municipal judge who is to be temporarily absent, sick, or disabled,
subject to the order of the chief judge of the judicial administrative district, to
designate another municipal judge within the state to perform his or her duties. This
provision replaces language that allowed the municipal judge to deliver the case to
the circuit court for disposition. If the municipal judge was in the first judicial
administrative district, currently the municipal judge could also designate, for a
period of not more than 30 days, a municipal judge from within the state to perform
his or her duties. If the municipal judge was from another judicial administrative
district, current law allows the municipal judge to designate, for a period of not more
than 30 days, a municipal judge from within that district to perform his or her duties.
26. Allows a chief judge of the judicial administrative district to designate any
municipal judge within the state temporarily to perform the duties of municipal
judge when there is a permanent vacancy in the office of municipal judge.
27. Requires the municipality to provide a prosecutor for municipal court cases
and allows telephonic or audiovisual testimony at any proceeding.
28. Allows a municipal court to order community service work in lieu of
restitution without needing the defendant's agreement but still needing the
agreement of the person to whom the restitution is owed and the agreement of the
organization where the community service work would occur.
29. Allows the municipal court to order a defendant to pay restitution for any
nontraffic ordinance violation or for any drunk driving ordinance violation.
30. Clarifies that the municipal court may order the suspension of a defendant's
operating privilege if the violation was related to the operation of a motor vehicle,
which includes nonmoving traffic offenses, or if the judgment is ordered under the
juvenile justice code. The bill gives a credit of not less than $50 for each day of
31. Provides that a municipal court may order that a defendant be imprisoned
for up to 90 days for failure to pay the amount of the judgment only if the defendant
has the ability to pay the judgment, has failed to perform community service, has
failed to attend a hearing to determine if he or she is indigent, or has failed to
complete a drug assessment of treatment program.
32. Allows the municipal court to order the assignment of up to 25 percent of
the defendant's income, including lottery winning, for the payment of the judgment
and provides procedural safeguards.
33. Changes the time frame for the court to pay any money the court receives
to the municipal treasurer from 7 days to 30 days.
34. Removes the requirement that the transcript of a municipal court judgment
include the vocation of the defendant.
35. Allows the reopening of a judgment at any time by either party under some
of the specified conditions used in circuit court, rather than by only the defendant,
and allows reopening a judgment within six months in certain situations.
36. Requires the court to reopen a default judgment on the motion of the
defendant if the judgment was based on service by mail, while prohibiting any appeal
of a default judgment.
37. Specifies that contempt of court involves intentional acts in the presence
of the court that interfere with the proceedings or administration of justice or that
impair the respect due to the court, or refusal of a witness to appear without
38. Increases the maximum penalty for contempt of court from a $50 forfeiture
to a $200 forfeiture, allows imprisonment of up to 7 days, and provides that the
penalty be imposed immediately after the contempt occurs only to preserve order in
the court or protect the authority of the court and only after the person who
committed the contempt is allowed to address the court.
39. Allows the municipal court to issue a warrant to bring a witness before the
court for the contempt of court for failing to appear, to order the witness to testify,
and to order the witness to pay the cost of apprehending him or her, plus any ordered
forfeiture for the contempt.
40. Removes the requirement that a defendant execute a bond for payment of
the judgment as a requirement for the appeal of a municipal court judgment and
instead allows the municipal judge to determine if the defendant must execute a
41. Clarifies that an appeal of a municipal court decision stays both the
execution of the judgment and the enforcement of any order issued by the municipal