Long-time Milwaukee County judge John DiMotto plans to retire in February, court officials announced Thursday.
DiMotto, who has worked for the justice system for 42 years, including 27 years on the bench, plans to step down on Feb. 28.
“I have been very fortunate to have served in the Wisconsin Judiciary for these many years with you and our Milwaukee County colleagues,” DiMotto wrote in a letter announcing his retirement. “I hope that my service has made a positive difference in the lives of everyone who came before me.”
DiMotto was first elected to the bench in 1990. He was the first judge to serve on Branch 41, which had just been established by the Wisconsin Legislature. He was re-elected without opposition in 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014.
During his 27 years on the bench, DiMotto served in every division of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. He is now one of 12 judges handling cases in the civil division and is a former presiding judge of the family division.
DiMotto has generously shared his legal knowledge with judges across the state, said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Pat Roggensack.
“Judge DiMotto has taken so many independent steps to improve the level of judicial services in our state, he has almost become a legend in his own time. There can be no question that Wisconsin courts, as well as the people who appeared before him in court, have benefitted because of his work as a member of the judiciary,” Roggensack said.
Before being elected to the bench, DiMotto worked as an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County from 1975 to 1990. For nine of those years, he was the Director of the Sensitive Crimes Unit, which was responsible for the review and prosecution of all cases involving sexual assault, child neglect, child abuse and child homicides committed by adult offenders.
DiMotto has been recognized with many awards for his accomplishments over the years, including recognition as Wisconsin Judge of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates and Jurist of the Year by the Wisconsin Justinian Society of Lawyers, among others.
In 2008, DiMotto was recognized in an article by the Wisconsin Law Journal for his record as a circuit court judge on appeal. From Jan. 1, 2000 through 2006, DiMotto’s decisions had been reviewed and affirmed by the appellate court 46 times without reversal, the Law Journal reported.
DiMotto is married to retired Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jean DiMotto, a columnist for the Wisconsin Law Journal, and plans to travel more in retirement. He also plans to serve as a reserve judge. Gov. Scott Walker is seeking applicants for the appointment to fill DiMotto’s seat.