Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Plan Will Tackle Courts Backlog

Using state ARPA funds to hire nearly 40 new staff in Sheriff's Office, DA's Office and Circuit Court.

By - Aug 17th, 2022 07:55 pm
Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

In March, Gov. Tony Evers provided Milwaukee County with approximately $15 million to expand court operations to work through the massive backlog of criminal court cases that piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding came out of the state’s $2.5 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation from the federal government.

The county accepted the funding with several goals in mind: to expand court operations to address the backlog, develop a pilot Night Court program, expand pre-trial supervision with GPS monitoring and develop a mental health treatment court.

In July, the Milwaukee County Board approved a slew of new positions to begin expanding court operations and tackle the court backlog. This included nine new bailiffs, nearly 20 new positions in the District Attorney’s Office and 12 new positions in the Office of the Clerk of Court.

The project is intended to run from 2022 through June 2024. The District Attorney’s Office has been allocated approximately $5.6 million; the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office approximately $1.7 million.

District Attorney John Chisholm told the Milwaukee County Board’s Personnel Committee in July that the new positions “would allow us to start getting back to what I would just describe as equilibrium.” He added: “Equilibrium being the challenging state that we were in in 2019. But a manageable challenge at that point in time.”

In January, according to an April report from the Office of Strategy, Budget and Performance, courts in Milwaukee faced a backlog of “approximately 2,600 misdemeanors, 1,700 felonies and 925 criminal traffic cases.”

“Milwaukee County anticipates it will take between 2 and 3 years to clear the identified backlog and resume resolving cases within the state and national time standard,” the report noted.

Denita Ball. the Deputy Chief of the Sheriff’s Department (she recently won the election to become the new Sheriff) told supervisors back then that the plan is to create three felony courts, one domestic violence court and one misdemeanor court. The felony and domestic violence courts would each have two bailiffs and the misdemeanor court would have one.

In March, when the state allocation was first announced, Chief Judge Mary Triggiano said “The governor’s decision to fund our extended and expanded court operations and mental health treatment court is so critical and timely.”

She explained that throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 exposure and illness greatly slowed down court proceedings. Increased numbers of retirements and resignations also impacted the court system as it did for many other public and private employers.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

2 thoughts on “MKE County: County Plan Will Tackle Courts Backlog”

  1. Wardt01 says:

    King Tony’s downfall may likely be his concrete belief in his absolute &
    unquestionable authority to write $4.5 billion of personal checks from our (citizens of Wisconsin) bank account.

    It’s embarrassing that the WI press simply accepts this from any elected politician and they simply reprint his press releases without ever fulfilling a basic responsibility to WI citizens to question the fairness, reasoning, or the potential ramifications of a Governor’s decision to usurp the fact that WE THE PEOPLE are the government.

    I’m curious and I’d love to see Joel McNally compile an ongoing list of the # of jobs created with the $4.5 billion and keep an ongoing tally of how it compares to his beloved Foxconn deal where WI taxpayers were on the hook to spend $3 billion to create 13,000 jobs. …. or, Graham can you dig up the numbers for your readers?

    maybe Evers has created more jobs??? I’d love to see some data compiled.

    Evers last update in Feb wasn’t clear on how many jobs he has created? the link is included below:

  2. Mingus says:

    If the Republican Party wants to support the police and be tough on crime, why haven’t they appropriated more funding from the billion of dollars in the State Surplus for communities to hire more police officers and for staff for County Courts to eliminate the backlog? High crime is good for headlines that they can use to blame the Democrats.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us