Frequently Asked Questions about General Court Procedures
Don't see your question listed?
Contact the Clerk of Courts at the location above or the Dane County Legal Resource Center at 266-6316.
What are the hours of the Clerk of Courts?
7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed all County holidays. Customers should arrive in time to complete all business by 4:30. Branch offices are also closed 12-1 p.m. daily.
Where is the Courthouse?
The Courthouse is located at 215 S Hamilton St and is between the streets of Wilson and Doty running parallel. There is one entrance on Hamilton Street, a one-way street connecting Wilson and Doty streets.
Where do I park when I come to the Courthouse?
Parking can be a problem in the downtown area. There are several public parking ramps close to the downtown area. There is usually little or no street parking available during the work day, but there are handicapped-accessible parking spots or areas to drop people off on Doty Street (around the corner from the main entrance).
What happens when I arrive at the Courthouse?
You will be required to go through Weapons Screening when you arrive at the Courthouse. You will have to pass through a metal detector and all items will be sent through an X-Ray machine. The whole process is very similar to the security screening at an airport so please plan accordingly. Allow extra time to get through Security prior to your hearing.
Why won't any court staff help me fill out a form, tell me how to proceed in my case, etc?
Court staff cannot give legal advice. According to Supreme Court Rule 70.41, services such as legal research or assistance filling out a form can be considered legal advice. The worst case scenario places court staff in violation of unauthorized practice of law, an offense punishable by as much as $500 or a year in jail (according to WI Statute § 757.30(1) or both.
How do I get a court interpreter?
A court interpreter will be provided for hearings UPON REQUEST. You must make the request, in writing, with the office of the court official assigned to your case. You may also make the request at the Clerk of Courts office, located on the first floor of the Courthouse.
How do I get a copy of public records of court cases or files?
Contact the Record Center in the Clerk of Courts office for copies of cases and files. A brief description of cases and index of records is contained in the WI Circuit Court Access database at http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl.
Where do I report for jury duty?
Room L1000 in the Courthouse. See the Juror Information page for more juror information.
How do I search Dane County Court Cases?
Is the Courthouse accessible to people in wheelchairs or with other physical challenges?
Yes. The entrance has a ramp. There is a drop-off space for the wheelchair ramp on Doty Street.
If I violated a city ordinance in a city in Dane County, will the case be in Circuit Court?
If the ticket was issued by a jurisdiction that has a Municipal Court, you will probably need to appear there to answer an ordinance violation. The City of Madison has a Municipal Court located in the City County Building Room 203 on the Second Floor. Contact the Clerk of Courts if you are unsure which jurisdiction or Court you need to visit.
What are the local court rules for Dane County?
Local court rules are policies and procedures for court actions tried in Dane County. You need to be familiar with the local court rules if you are involved in court actions, even if you are not an attorney. You can view the Dane County Circuit Court Rules.
What if I can't afford to pay the filing fee for a court action?
You may petition the court to have filing and service fees waived. You should use the Petition for Waiver of Filing and Service fees form.
What if I can't afford an attorney?
There are several alternatives and programs that may be able to assist you. Visit the Court System's Self-Help Center legal assistance page for lists of resources and programs that offer no or low-cost legal aid and information that can help you determine if you can afford a lawyer. You may also choose to represent yourself.
Am I supposed to behave a certain way while in Court?
Here are some general tips:
- Be on time! The court has a very busy schedule. If you are late, your case might be postponed to another date or dismissed entirely.
- Dress professionally, as you would for an important event. This means that your clothing should be neat and clean, and that you are well groomed.
- Do not bring your children into court.
- Do not chew gum.
- Turn off electronic devices, including cell phones and pagers.
- Be respectful to everyone in court. This includes the judge or court commissioner, court staff, the other party involved in your case, witnesses, court bailiff, and any other people in the area.
- Address the judge as 'Your Honor'.
- Do not use profanity, argue, or verbally react to answers given in court by the judge or commissioner, opposing party, or attorney. You will have your turn to speak.
I can't make my court date. How do I reschedule a court date?
It might not be possible to reschedule, but you can try calling. The number of the assigned judge hearing your case should be located on the notice of hearing. For Dane County Circuit Court, call 266-4311. Requests to adjourn small claims court hearings must be received, in writing, and a copy of the request MUST be provided to the other parties in the case.
How do I complain about an attorney?
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigates grievances about attorney misconduct. OLR provides instructions on how to file a grievance, outlines the grievance process, and explains under what circumstances you may learn whether other grievances have been filed or whether the attorney has been previously disciplined. Information about the OLR is on their website.
Where can I complain about a Court Commissioner?
Read Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 75.06. Contact information for the chief judge may be found in the Circuit Court Administrative Districts directory. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission provides an online complaint form.
Where can I complain about a judge?
The Wisconsin Judicial Commission investigates allegations of judicial misconduct. They provide an online complaint form.
Are there court forms specific to Dane County?
There are several court forms that are designed for use in Dane County only. Locate a court form here on our Court Forms page.
How do I get a lawyer?
There are several ways for you to locate an attorney to assist you. One way is to call the WI State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service at (608) 257-4666. You could also search lawyer directories or the yellow pages. For more information, visit this topic on the Wisconsin State Law Library's Legal Topics page.
How do I access legal information?
Online, a substantial amount of Wisconsin legal information can be found by accessing the Wisconsin State Law Library's website and searching its contents. Not all legal information is available on the Internet, nor is it all available for free. You may also visit the Dane County Legal Resource Center or WI State Law Library during normal business hours. Another option is emailing your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (608) 266-6316 for more information and assistance.
How do I file an Out of State Subpoena?
OUT OF STATE SUBPOENA PROCEDURE
State Court Cases Venued Outside of Wisconsin
Parties to lawsuits pending in other states may obtain a subpoena for a witness located in Dane County. Inquiring parties should be advised to prepare and submit the following four documents to the duty judge for review and processing:
A commission must be issued by the out-of-state court of jurisdiction to the circuit court judge. Typically, the attorney taking the deposition petitions his or her court or judge to issue a commission to the judge in the county of the witness's residence thereby empowering him or her to issue a subpoena for the witness's appearance. The document should state the parties, who they are, and that the witness is necessary for the case to proceed.
- Petition for Issuance of Subpoena
This is a request for the circuit court judge or Chief Judge to issue a subpoena, authorized by the above commission. The petition should contain reference to your state's statutes regarding deposition testimony reciprocal with Wisconsin Statutes 887.24, 887.25 and 887.26.
- Order for Issuance of Subpoena
This is the document prepared by the petitioning attorney and presented to the duty judge for his or her signature, thereby ordering the issuance of the subpoena. Any additional request for production of records or duces tecum is to be included in the subpoena itself, not this document.
- The Subpoena
- Submit Documents
Send all four documents (and copies) to the circuit court judge's office. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of the signed copies. Once the duty judge has signed the subpoena, the documents are forwarded to the Clerk of Court’s Administrative Office for Processing. There is no filing fee. The cover letter, a copy of the subpoena, and any other pleading accompanying the subpoena are retained by the Clerk’s Office. The original subpoena is sealed and returned to the requester to arrange for service.
- Arrange Witness Payment
To compel attendance, the witness fee and mileage must accompany the subpoena when served.
Ref: Wis. Stats. Chapter 887