One of Winnebago Circuit Court Judge Scott Woldt’s professional passions is seeing people graduate the county’s Safe Streets Initiative Program and drug court, which he helped found in 2006.
With more than 10 graduates coming through his court, Woldt said he is impressed with the ambition and ability of those who survive the intense program, designed to rehabilitate non-violent offenders with a history of drug and alcohol dependence.
While not everyone who is eligible for the program succeeds, Woldt said he believes people should at least have a shot at rehabilitation before prison.
When he’s not on the bench, Woldt said he enjoys the occasional round of golf and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
The judge was re-elected to his second full term this spring and took time to share his thoughts in this week’s Asked & Answered
Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Hon. Scott Woldt: ‘What every attorney should know!’ Before I became a judge, I thought I knew what the courts expected of me and what I needed to do to best represent my client’s interests. I was wrong. I had no clue about calendaring and running a court. I have found that very few attorneys understand how a court runs. Think about it. You handle your 200 to 300 cases a year. We handle more than 1,500.
WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?
Woldt: Contracts. The first day of class the professor said that everything we heard about her was the truth, she was our worst nightmare. On Friday of that week I was leaving class and the teacher asked me if everything she said was true. My response was, “No, I think you are a pussy cat!” The next Monday she told the class what I had said, and I was called on every day in class that year. The lesson was learned.
WLJ: What is your favorite website and why?
Woldt: jsonline.com. Keeps me up to date on everything that is going on in the state.
WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Woldt: Golf clubs.
WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Woldt: Pure Prairie League. The concert was at UW-Oshkosh in 1980 and they were big back then. I guess I am getting old.
WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Woldt: Chief Justice John Roberts. I would like to understand how the United States Supreme Court runs and give them an understanding of how a trial court works. Thinking that you know what the other does is not always correct. We would both learn a lot and be better judges for the opportunity.
WLJ: What is your motto?
Woldt: Be smart on crime. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity.
WLJ: What is your favorite movie about lawyers or the law and why?
Woldt: ‘The Rainmaker.’ I am not that big on law-related movies because they are so clearly fiction. So many people think that what they see in movies is what the practice of law is really like. I liked the show because of the underdog victory.
WLJ: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Woldt: High school teacher and coach.
Jack Zemlicka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.