And the new Chief Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin had the chance to showcase his philosophy during two high-profile cases last year.
In May, Clevert presided over Milwaukee County v. Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Inc., which involved a multi-million dollar pension scandal in the county.
Later in that month, he heard oral arguments in Doe v. Elmbrook School District, which dealt with the issue of whether a pair of public high schools in Brookfield could hold their graduation in a church.
In both cases and others throughout the year, Clevert increasingly utilized technology in the courtroom as well as some uncommon procedures.
He has allowed jurors in civil cases to ask questions and compiled photos in juror notebooks to enhance jury recall of witnesses. Clevert has also permitted attorneys to summarize evidence at various stages of trials to provide jurors with a “thumbnail” of the case.
“I do think we need to think of ways in which we can enhance the jury system and the process of trying cases because it has been said by many practitioners that the jury trial is dying,” Clevert said.
Clevert has certainly kept his docket full since first joining the federal bench as a bankruptcy judge in 1977. He was appointed as an Article III judge in 1996 and on September 1 of last year, started a seven-year term as Chief Judge.
“There’s not a lot of space left on the plate, but much to be done,” he said.
Administratively, Clevert is finalizing revisions to the Eastern District Court’s local rules, including the way summary judgment motions are handled.
As a judge who frequently advises defendants about the value of an education and reading, Clevert hopes to unveil a re-entry court project this year.
“Basically, it’s a tool by which various entities work with offenders to assist them in reintegrating after their convictions,” he said.