The Third Branch
Chief Judge delivers 'State of the Courts' presentation in Milwaukee
District One Chief Judge Jeffrey A. Kremers, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, delivered the annual “State of the Courts" presentation at a Milwaukee Bar Association (MBA) luncheon in Milwaukee on Oct. 24. Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson and Justices Patience Drake Roggensack and Annette Kinglsand Ziegler attended the event.
“The MBA has been a terrific partner with the courts," said Kremers. “While officers change every year, the support for the courts and specifically any number of court-related programs that seek to help the disadvantaged in our community and access to justice is unwavering."
More than 250 judges, commissioners and attorneys heard Kremers discuss issues, including: major projects in the courts; judicial independence and his concerns about the public display of disrespect for judges; and the judicial process. He also thanked the county executive and county board for not proposing budget cuts to the court.
Major projects mentioned by Kremers include:
- Partnership with the MBA for expansion of the self-help center that last year had over 360 volunteer attorneys and 7,500 hours valued in excess of $650,000 to help more than 8,000 clients. County Executive Chris Abele has budgeted money to complete the build out of the center.
- Participation with the Center for Court Innovation to test how courthouse signs, interactions and conversations with defendants can have a positive impact on their understanding and willingness to follow the conditions of their sentence and their likelihood of re-offending.
- The Drug Treatment Court will soon include a veteran's initiative to link those defendants with additional services of the Veterans Administration.
- Efforts of the Milwaukee Community Justice Council to bring evidence-based decision making practices to bear on the system in four projects: CIT police training, early intervention initiatives, dosage sentencing and universal screening.
- A National Institute of Corrections grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance for Justice Reinvestment Initiatives to use the cost savings from implementing new strategies as reinvestment to the part of the system that created the savings.
- Milwaukee's selection as a Model Court through the Wisconsin Court Improvement Project and The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to improve outcomes for children and their families in Milwaukee's juvenile courts by using national best practices to reduce out-of-home placements; improve the efficiency of the court processes; and, empower social workers.
- Project ONE: Milwaukee has been chosen as an implementation site to identify and find solutions to the problems of meeting the needs of the families who appear in our courts.
- Establishment of a Family Drug Treatment Court at the Children's Court Center to more efficiently identify, assess and treat women whose substance abuse has resulted in placement of their child in out-of-home care.
- eFiling in civil cases.
- Successful mortgage mediation program maintains strong support from the courts.
- Safe exchange grants received in Milwaukee in which the courts will play an integral role with the city of Milwaukee, Sojourner Family Peace Center and Children's Hospital to address concerns in high conflict family court cases and supervised placement in cases affected by domestic violence.