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All You Need to Know About Wisconsin Circuit Courts

Kyle Maichle July 24, 2013 0
All You Need to Know About Wisconsin Circuit Courts

Wisconsin Circuit Courts are the state’s trial courts where all cases are first heard.   There are 249 judges representing 70 different judicial circuit courts.


On April 5, 1977, the voters of Wisconsin approved a ballot proposition that reorganized Wisconsin’s judicial system.  This created the current circuit court system that exists in Wisconsin.  Before 1977, there were two levels of trial courts in Wisconsin called County and Circuit courts.  County courts were responsible for handling probate, juvenile, and traffic cases.   The circuit courts were responsible for handling solely civil and criminal courts.   After voters approved the changes to the circuit court system, the current format merges the functions that were separately handled by the former county and circuit courts.

Source: Wisconsin Court System-History of the Circuit Court


The circuit courts handle all civil, criminal, traffic, probate, juvenile, and small claims cases.

Source: Wisconsin Circuit Court System-Function of Circuit Court


All judges to the Circuit Courts are elected to six year terms using non-partisan elections.  All vacancies to the Circuit Court are filled by gubernatorial appointment until a successor is elected during the next scheduled non-partisan Spring election.

Source: Wisconsin Constitution, Article VII, Sections 7 and 9


Article VII of the Wisconsin State Constitution states that in order to pursue judicial office an individual must attain the following:

  • Be an Attorney licensed in the State of Wisconsin for a minimum of (5) five years prior to being elected or appointed.
  • Be no older than (70) seventy years old after July 31st of the year they reach age 70.
  • Hold no other office of public trust at the time he or she is sworn in as a judicial officer.

Source: Wisconsin State Court System, Frequently Asked Questions


Circuit Court Judges earn $128,600 a year.

Source: Wisconsin State Court System, Frequently Asked Questions

Circuit Courts in Wisconsin

The table below lists how many circuit court judges are in each county along with a link to each court’s individual page which highlights the judges of each court.


County Number of Judges Location of Court
Adams 1 Friendship
Ashland 1 Ashland
Barron 3 Rice Lake
Bayfield 1 Washburn
Brown 8 Green Bay
Buffalo-Pepin 1 Alma
Burnett 1 Siren
Calumet 1 Chilton
Clark 1 Neillsville
Columbia 3 Portage
Crawford 1 Prairie du Chien
Dane 17 Madison
Dodge 4 Juneau
Door 2 Sturgeon Bay
Douglas 2 Superior
Dunn 2 Menomonie
Eau Claire 5 Eau Claire
Florence 1 Florence
Fond du Lac 5 Forest
Forest 1 Crandon
Grant 2 Lancaster
Green 2 Monroe
Green Lake 1 Green Lake
Iowa 1 Dodgeville
Iron 1 Hurley
Jackson 1 Black River Falls
Jefferson 4 Jefferson
Juneau 2 Mauston
Kenosha 8 Kenosha
Kewaunee 1 Kewaunee
La Crosse 5 La Crosse
Lafayette 1 Darlington
Langlade 1 Antigo
Lincoln 2 Merrill
Manitowoc 3 Manitowoc
Marathon 5 Wausau
Marinette 2 Marinette
Marquette 1 Montello
Milwaukee 47 Milwaukee
Monroe 3 Sparta
Oconto 2 Oconto
Oneida 2 Rhinelander
Outagamie 7 Appleton
Ozaukee 3 Port Washington
Pierce 1 Ellsworth
Polk 1 Balsam Lake
Portage 3 Stevens Point
Price 1 Phillips
Racine 10 Racine
Richland 1 Richland Center
Rock 7 Janesville
Rusk 1 Ladysmith
St. Croix 4 Hudson
Sauk 3 Baraboo
Sawyer 1 Hayward
Shawano/Menominee 2 Shawano
Sheboygan 5 Sheboygan
Taylor 1 Medford
Trempealeau 1 Whitehall
Vernon 1 Viroqua
Vilas 1 Eagle River
Walworth 4 Elkhorn
Washburn 1 Shell Lake
Washington 4 West Bend
Waukesha 12 Waukesha
Waupaca 3 Oshkosh
Waushara 1 Wautoma
Winnebago 6 Oshkosh
Wood 3 Wisconsin Rapids



Map of Wisconsin's Judicial Districts

Map of Wisconsin’s Judicial Districts

Each one of Wisconsin’s Circuit Courts is administered by a District Chief Judge in one of the state’s ten judicial administrative districts.  The Chief Judge is responsible for the day to day operations of each county’s circuit court in their administrative district.  The Chief Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.   Each circuit court has a Clerk of Circuit Courts that is duly elected by the voters of the respective county.   The Clerk assists the Chief Judge in their court’s day to day operations.

Source: Wisconsin Court System-Circuit Courts

External Links

See Also