Wis. SC makes picks for state's chief judge committee

Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 2, 2012, 12:15pm

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court announced Friday its selections for the state's Committee of Chief Judges.

According to a news release, the Court selected circuit court judges from Jefferson, Vilas and Wood counties to serve as new members of the committee, effective Aug. 1.

The Court also re-appointed judges from Brown and Kenosha counties to continue serving on the committee, which along with the state's high court, helps oversee administrative matters in circuit courts statewide.

The Committee of Chief Judges consists of 10 chief judges, one from each of the state's 10 judicial administrative districts.

Deputy Chief Judge Randy R. Koschnick, Jefferson County Circuit Court, was appointed as the new chief judge of the Third Judicial Administrative District. The Third District includes Jefferson, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties.

Koschnick replaces outgoing Chief Judge J. "Mac" Davis, Waukesha County Circuit Court. As of July 31, Davis will have completed the maximum three, two-year terms on the committee, including a year as its chair. Davis remains on the bench in Waukesha County.

Koschnick has served as deputy chief judge of the Third District since 2008. He was elected to the Jefferson County bench in 1999 and reelected in 2005 and 2011. He served as an assistant State Public Defender from 1985 to 1999. He is a graduate of UW-Stevens Point and Hamline University School of Law.

Deputy Chief Judge Neal A. "Chip" Nielsen III, Vilas County Circuit Court, was appointed to replace outgoing Ninth Judicial Administrative District Chief Judge Gregory E. Grau, Marathon County Circuit Court. The Ninth District includes Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Menominee, Oneida, Price, Shawano, Taylor and Vilas counties.

Grau, a former deputy chief judge, has served as the district's chief judge since Sept. 8, 2008. Grau remains on the bench in Marathon County.

Nielsen was appointed to the Vilas County bench in 2003, was elected in 2004 and reelected in 2010. He worked as a corporate attorney from 1999 to 2003 and in private practice from 1981 to 1999. He serves as chair of the State-Tribal Justice Forum, which works to promote and sustain communication, education and cooperation among tribal and state court systems.

Deputy Chief Judge Gregory J. Potter, Wood County Circuit Court, was appointed chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Administrative District. He replaces Chief Judge John R. Storck, Dodge County Circuit Court.

The Sixth District includes Adams, Clark, Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Portage, Sauk, Waushara and Wood counties.

Storck will have served the maximum of three, two-year terms as of July 31. Storck previously served as chair of the committee, and prior to becoming a chief judge, served as deputy chief judge. Storck remains on the bench in Dodge County.

Potter was appointed to the Wood County bench in 2001, elected in 2002 and reelected in 2008. He served as Wood County District Attorney from 1987 to 2000 and was in private practice from 1984 to 1987. Potter is a graduate of Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Wash., and the UW-La Crosse.

The Court also re-appointed two chief judges.

Chief Judge Donald R. Zuidmulder, Brown County Circuit Court, will continue as chief judge of the Eight Judicial Administrative District. The Eighth District includes Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie and Waupaca counties.

Zuidmulder was elected to the bench in 1997 after a 22-year career in private practice. He was re-elected in 2003 and 2009. Zuidmulder also served as Brown County district attorney, and as an assistant attorney general.

Chief Judge Mary K. Wagner, Kenosha County Circuit Court, was re-appointed chief judge of the Second Judicial Administrative District. District Two includes Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

Wagner was first elected to the Kenosha County bench in 1991, and re-elected in 1997, 2003 and 2009. She served in the state Assembly from 1978-82 and as Kenosha County clerk from 1976-78. She also has served as a deputy chief judge in the Second District and was a teacher from 1971-76.

Working as a team with a deputy chief judge and a professional court administrator, chief judges manage the flow of cases, supervise personnel and develop budgets. They meet monthly as a committee to work on issues of statewide importance.

With the exception of Milwaukee County -- the First Judicial Administrative District -- where the chief judge is a full-time administrator, chief judges and their deputies maintain court calendars in addition to handling administrative matters.

Districts range in size from one county to 13 counties. A chief judge can serve up to three, two-year terms, which are staggered.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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