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New law creates 12 new Wisconsin circuit court branches

Wisconsin will add 12 new circuit court branches throughout the state under legislation Gov. Tony Evers signed on Thursday.

The new law, initially called Assembly Bill 470, allows the director of state courts to establish four new branches per year, starting on Nov. 14, 2020. Operations for the first four courts would start on Aug. 1, 2021. The director may allocate the branches to counties according to their needs, resolutions and established infrastructure. As a prerequisite to getting a court, the law requires a county to establish or apply for a treatment and diversion-program grant or drug-court grant.

Evers’ office said this is the first addition of circuit court branches since 2010 and the largest addition in more than two decades.

The legislation had bipartisan support since its introduction in September. Evers called it another step in “ensuring our justice system is operating efficiently.”

In a statement, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Pat Roggensack said the law helps the courts uphold their responsibilities to citizens.

“Whether it is circuit courts working to provide public safety while protecting individual rights in criminal actions or circuit courts responding to the needs of families or resolving commercial controversies, we all benefit from a court system that has sufficient quality jurists to meet the needs of the people,” Roggensack wrote.

About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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