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Chief Judge Kremers helps keep wedding bells ringing in aftermath of fire

Madison, Wisconsin - July 15, 2013

Thanks to a disaster at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, Chief Judge Jeffrey A. Kremers can add another title to his resume after 21 years on the bench: emergency wedding planner.

As reported by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, who witnessed recent events unfold, Kremers sprang to action when a bride-to-be showed up with her prospective groom and numerous family members at the Milwaukee County Criminal Justice Building around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10.

Problem was, the courthouse was closed. A July 6 fire had destroyed much of an electrical utility room in the basement and caused extensive smoke and odor damage throughout the building. Abrahamson was in town to survey the damage and offer state court system assistance when the wedding party appeared in the lobby without a marriage certificate.

The odds of a wedding happening at this point were not good, as a temporary location had not yet been set up to accommodate people facing this plight. (On Thursday, July 11, the county clerk’s office opened a temporary location in the lobby of the City Campus Building to process marriage licenses).

The couple had earlier made their first required trip to the courthouse, but all they had to show for their efforts was a receipt. Without a license, a judge could not sign off.  Rather than let disappointment set in, Kremers called the Milwaukee County Clerk’s office in an effort to get the license.

He found out that Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph J. Czarnezki had personally collected the pending marriage licenses for safekeeping while the courthouse was closed and crews worked to bring the building back to working order.

Kremers was told Czarnezki was at the Milwaukee County Board meeting, which was being held at a temporary location downtown at the Milwaukee Area Technical College campus. Kremers made his way to the county board meeting, retrieved the wedding license for the couple and brought it back to the courthouse.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Daniel A. Noonan, who was at the ready with his robe and a wedding script, performed the wedding ceremony.

“By 4 p.m., the wedding party that was dejected at 3 p.m., was laughing and ‘high five-ing’ each other when the papers were signed, and the ceremony was complete,” Abrahamson said.

Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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