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Morrison Salutes Passing Of Bill To Add Court Branches

Issue Date: November 21, 2019

On Tuesday, Nov. 12 the Wisconsin State Assembly voted 94-1 to approve AB 470, which would permit creation of up to four new circuit court branches each year in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Marinette County Branch II Circuit Court Judge James A.Morrison, who serves as Chief Judge of Wisconsin's Eighth Judicial District and chair of the state Committee of Chief Judges, applauded the decision.

"I want to thank Joint Committee on Finance Co-chair Rep. John Nygren for his support of this legislation and a number of other recent measures aimed at making our courts and justice system more efficient and effective," Morrison declared. 

"The Committee's public hearing held on Oct. 2 provided the opportunity for some of our state judges to be heard on the critical need for additional judgeships in some counties. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, AB 470 will help our judges keep up with a growing demand for the services our courts provide to all citizens," Judge Morrison added.

"Judges play a key role in ensuring that our courts run efficiently and effectively, mindful first of the law, and the people in front of them and those in our communities also impacted by these cases," he continued, and added:

"In recent years, many judges have taken on the added demand of presiding over treatment and other specialty court programs. With the extra work by judges and support from our partners in the criminal justice system, these programs have demonstrated effectiveness and have been well received. Additional judges will allow for the expansion of these types of court programs in areas where workload demands do not currently allow. AB 470, should it become law, will help toward filling that need and balancing the workload statewide."

 During hearings on the 2019-2021 state budget, the Joint Finance Committee also heard testimony on a number of successful proposals to improve the functioning of the justice system, including:

" An increase of $1.2 million a year statewide in payments made to counties to help cover a portion of the cost of operating the circuit courts.

" An increase in the private-bar reimbursement rate from $40 to $70 an hour, when an attorney is appointed by the State Public Defender

" An increase of more than 60 assistant district attorney positions statewide.

An increase in resources to the State Crime Laboratory to address additional laboratory service needs to local law enforcement and prosecutors.

Judge Morrison was named Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial District last year, and in June of this year was elected by fellow judges across the state to chair the Committee of Chief Judges.


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