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Judicial vacancies lasting 4 months under Walker

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has taken more than four months on average to replace retiring circuit court judges, leaving reserve judges to hear cases and putting other cases on hold until a permanent judge is named.

Courts have waited an average of 124 days from the time the governor’s office solicited applications for open seats until a successor was announced, The Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday.

“It’s a little like a school system with nothing but substitute teachers, and not the same substitute every day,” said William Foust, chief judge for the court system’s Fifth Administrative District, which includes Dane County. “Cases that need a lot of attention have to sit and wait for the arrival of the real judge.”

One state appeals court seat, in eastern Wisconsin’s Second District, has been awaiting an appointee since a vacancy was announced on May 11 — 165 days ago.

From 2004 to 2009, former Gov. Jim Doyle took an average of about 99 days to appoint each of eight judges in Dane County, the newspaper reported.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said there are many steps in the application process that the governor’s office doesn’t control, including background checks, but he didn’t say why the process was quicker under Doyle.

Walker has appointed eight circuit court judges. He appointed two other judges after they were elected to vacant posts last spring, rather than wait until August to be sworn in.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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