The Volunteers in the Courts Program was developed in 1996 to explore citizen volunteers in court-related work and the practical implications of expanding the role of volunteers in the court system.
There are many opportunities to serve on court-related boards and committees, and we need lawyers and non-lawyers from every county of the state to serve. The court relies on volunteers, both lawyers and non-lawyers, because of their diverse expertise and community presence, to perform this essential service. Please go to the boards and committees participation page for more information on these opportunities.
Following are brief descriptions of four successful court-related volunteer programs:
Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
CASA programs are designed to assist the courts and help safeguard the welfare of children in need of protection and services. CASA programs use volunteers to monitor the living conditions of neglected or abused children and ensure that court orders are followed. With closer supervision, these children are able to continue living in their own homes, eliminating the need for foster care in some circumstances.
Teen court programs come in many forms, typically hearing the cases of juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17 who have committed their first non-violent offenses or who are minor repeat offenders. The goals are restitution to the community and victims and giving youth an opportunity to become accountable for their behavior and develop as responsible citizens.
Working singly or in pairs, volunteers mediate family matters, small claims and civil cases. The goal is to bring the parties to settlement before the case goes to trial. Success rates are high and in at least one Wisconsin county the parties in small claims actions are required to try mediation first.
Community service programs
These programs allow judges to impose community service in lieu of jail time and/or fines in certain cases involving minor offenses. It is considered a positive means of working with offenders and improving the community at the same time.