Carlo Esqueda

Clerk of Circuit Court and Register in Probate

Dane County Courthouse
Room 1000
215 S Hamilton St.
Madison, WI 53703
Map to the Courthouse

Phone: (608) 266-4311
Fax: (608) 267-8859
TTY: Call Wisconsin Relay 711

7:45 AM to 4:30 PM
Closed all County holidays

Customers should arrive in time to complete all business by 4:30 PM

All filings and requests through the mail require a self addressed stamped envelope to return incorrect and/or processed paperwork and receipts to you. Please ensure all required documents are properly notarized before filing with the court.

Dane County Circuit Court Rules

Last Revised Date: 02/26/14


Code of Professional Responsibility, Courtesy & Decorum for the Circuit Courts of Dane County

In order to enhance the administration of justice, this code establishes uniform standards of courtroom decorum applicable to judges, court commissioners, attorneys, court personnel and the public in Dane County Circuit Courts.

  1. Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall at all times maintain a cordial and respectful demeanor and shall be guided by a fundamental sense of integrity and fair play in all their professional activities.
  2. Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall at all times be civil in their dealings with one another. All court and court related proceedings, including discovery proceedings, whether written or oral, shall be conducted with civility and respect for each of the participants.
  3. Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall abstain from making disparaging, demeaning or sarcastic remarks or comments about one another, and shall not engage in any conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile or obstructive.
  4. Judges, court commissioners, and lawyers shall be punctual in convening and appearing for all hearings, meetings and conferences and, if delayed, shall notify other participants, if possible.
  5. Lawyers, court commissioners, judges, clerks and staff shall at all times, while in the courthouse or while participating in legal proceedings, dress in a manner showing proper respect for the court, the proceedings and the law.
  6. Lawyers, court commissioners, judges, clerks and staff shall advise clients, witnesses, jurors and others appearing in court that proper conduct and attire is expected within the courthouse and shall, where possible, prevent clients, witnesses or others from creating disorder or disruption.
  7. In scheduling all hearings, meetings and conferences, judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall be considerate of the time schedules of the participants and shall grant reasonable extensions of time when such extensions will not adversely affect the court calendar or clients' interests.
  8. Lawyers shall make all reasonable efforts to reach informal agreement on preliminary and procedural matters and shall attempt to expeditiously reconcile differences through negotiation, without needless expense and waste of time.
  9. Lawyers shall not abuse the judicial process by pursuing or opposing discovery arbitrarily or for the purpose of harassment or undue delay. If an adversary is entitled to something, it shall be provided without unnecessary formalities.
  10. Lawyers shall never knowingly deceive or mislead another lawyer or the court. Lawyers shall clearly identify for the court and other counsel changes he or she has made in documents submitted to him or her by counsel or the court.
  11. Lawyers practicing before the courts in Dane County shall at all times act in good faith and shall honor promises or commitments to other lawyers and to the court.
  12. All participants in the judicial process, whether judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks or staff, shall conduct themselves in a manner which demonstrates sensitivity to the necessity of preserving decorum and the integrity of the judicial process.
  13. Professionalism, as defined in this code and in accordance with other relevant standards of courtesy, good manners and dignity, is the responsibility of the individual judge, court commissioner, lawyer, clerk, staff member and all other personnel of the court who assist the public.

Dane County Judges

Please visit our Judges page for a complete listing of Dane County Judges.

Circuit Court Commissioners

Please visit our Commisioners page for a complete listing of Circuit Court Commissioners.

Court Contacts

Please visit our Contacts page for a complete listing of Circuit Court Contacts.

General Rules

Table of Contents

Rules for Criminal / Traffic Cases

Table of Contents

Rules for Civil, Administrative Review & Small Claims Cases

Table of Contents

Rules for Family Court

Table of Contents

Rules for Probate Court

Table of Contents

Rules for Juvenile Court

Table of Contents

Effective September 1, 2012, these rules are promulgated by the chief judge at the request of the Dane County Circuit Court Judges.

General Rules

101: Cameras in the Courtroom

A notice of intent to bring cameras or recording equipment into a courtroom or other hearing chamber, pursuant to SCR 61.02(2), shall be made orally or in writing to the office of the judicial officer conducting the hearing or trial. This notice shall be at least three (3) days in advance of the hearing/trial. This requirement may be waived by the court if good cause for waiver is demonstrated. A notice by one media representative shall be sufficient for all subsequent hearings and trials in said case. Each media organization must provide an individual notice; one notice shall not suffice for all other media representatives.

The clerk or secretary of the judicial officer conducting the hearing or trial shall make a diligent effort to notify the attorneys and any unrepresented parties by telephone as soon as reasonably possible of the notice and place a copy of theMedia Request for Cameras in Courtroom form into the file indicating the time of doing so.

Notice to have cameras or recording equipment at Initial Appearances is not required.

A party moving that any judicial proceeding required by law to be public should be closed to the news media must notify the court and the Media Coordinator at least three (3) days prior to the hearing/trial. This requirement may be waived by the court if good cause for waiver is demonstrated. The motion will be heard before the commencement of the hearing. The burden shall be upon the moving party to show why Wis. Stats. 757.14 Wis. Stats. (Sittings, public) should not apply.

The name of the Media Coordinator and Deputy Media Coordinator will be on file in the District Court Administrator's office.


102: Duty Judge Responsibilities

Each week a duty judge is on call and available by telephone 24 hours a day for emergency matters. The duty judge roster is prepared by the District Court Administrator and commences each week on Friday at 4:30 p.m. If, during the working day, the assigned duty judge is unavailable, the staff of the assigned duty judge shall assist in finding a circuit judge to handle the matter.

At the discretion of the Chief Judge, court commissioners may be assigned to duty judge responsibility.

If a judge other than the assigned judge is handling duty week assignments, the assigned judge shall be responsible for notifying the Dane County sheriff's dispatcher, the jail, the district attorney, the clerk of court, public defender, district court administrator, other judges and all others as shown on the Duty Judge Schedule Change form adopted by the court.

Duty judges should avoid scheduling non-duty week work on duty weeks if that work will make him/her unavailable to perform duty week work. Non-duty judges should not refer matters assigned to them to the duty judge. Unless specifically approved by the chief judge or district court administrator, reserve judges shall not be assigned evening or weekend duty matters.

Duty judges are responsible for the following matters:

  1. Preliminary Hearings

    The duty judge shall provide times for the number of notices for preliminary hearings determined by the chief judge, which until further notice is 36, in writing, to the arraignment clerk at least six weeks in advance of the assigned duty week. The arraignment clerk may ask the duty judge for more notices if needed. Preliminary hearings may initially be scheduled only on Tuesdays (all day), Wednesdays (after 10:30 a.m.) and Thursdays (prior to 10:00 a.m.), except they may not be initially scheduled on Tuesday mornings following a Monday holiday. Fridays (after 10:00 a.m.) should be saved for emergencies and preliminary hearing set overs from earlier in the week.

    Preliminary hearings from initial appearances on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday will be scheduled for the following Tuesday, and Wednesday if necessary. Prelims from initial appearances on Thursday will be scheduled for the following Wednesday. Prelims from initial appearances on Friday will be scheduled for the following Thursday.

    Once a judge is assigned to hear a preliminary hearing, that judge is responsible for that file until the case is bound over for trial or dismissed, except as reassignment may occur after issuance and service of a warrant. If possible, setovers should be set on the same week or the next available time on that judge’s calendar.

    If the duty judge approves a substitution or disqualifies himself/herself from a preliminary hearing, an attempt shall be made to locate another circuit judge to take the hearing at the originally scheduled date and time. The district court administrator shall assist in this process.

  2. Arraignments

    The duty judge shall proceed immediately with the arraignment unless 30 days to file the information is requested by the State or unless otherwise ordered.

  3. Warrants

    The duty judge shall sign bench warrants after contempt hearings in small claims cases, if the judge assigned to small claims is unavailable. If a defendant is picked up on a small claims bench warrant, the bail hearing shall be scheduled before the judge assigned to small claims.

    The duty judge shall sign Alternatives to Incarceration Program warrants for electronic or bail monitoring if the assigned judge is unavailable.

  4. Injunctions

    All harassment, child abuse and domestic abuse injunctions set before the duty judge will be scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

    Extensions for non-service should be scheduled for the next duty judge, but setovers for any other reason shall be to the calendar of the duty judge originally assigned to hear the case. The court may grant a party a one week setover to allow a party to attend a hearing with counsel of choice, if the court is provided with evidence that the attorney of choice is unavailable at the scheduled time of a hearing and the parties stipulate to the extension of the temporary restraining order.

    For the purpose of hearing petitions, issuing temporary restraining orders and injunction hearings in harassment cases involving minors, the duty judge shall be designated as a juvenile judge.

    If requested by the party, the duty judge shall review the decision of a court commissioner to deny a temporary restraining order.

    After an injunction requiring firearm surrender is granted a compliance hearing shall be held by the duty judge in the week following the entry of the injunction. Compliance hearings will be held Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 am. The compliance hearing will be canceled upon the filing of a Sheriff’s Receipt documenting surrender or an agreed Respondent’s Statement of Possession of Firearms (CV-800V at indicating there are no owned firearms.

  5. Mental Commitment/Competency

    1. Civil Commitment trials will be set on Monday and Thursday beginning at 1:30 pm.

      Non-jury civil commitment setovers will be assigned to the next duty judge unless the setover is on the court’s own motion. If not completed during the week, a mental commitment trial will be setover to a non-duty week of the same judge.

      Especially in the case of civil commitment jury trials, the duty judge may need to request reserve judge assistance, or with the assistance of the district court administrator, find another active judge to assist with his or her calendar.

      Post-commitment petitions for court review of medication competency under section 51.61(1)(g)3, Wis. Stats. (Patient’s Rights), will be assigned to a probate court commissioner (rather than the "committing court"). Orders for the hearings will be made by the probate court, and hearings scheduled by the probate staff.

    2. The duty judges shall conduct hearings under this section on the competency of a defendant that are ordered by a commissioner but cannot be heard by that commissioner.

      Whenever there is reason to doubt a defendant’s competency to proceed, the court/commissioner shall order an examination under section 971.14(2) Wis. Stats. (Competency Proceedings, Examination). If bail has not already been set, the court/commissioner shall first set bond and then determine whether an inpatient or outpatient examination is necessary. It is presumed that an outpatient examination shall be conducted by the DHFS. A date for hearing within 15 days of the order shall be set at the time the order is made, to be heard as follows:

      1. If the order is made by the commissioner at the time of initial appearance, the commissioner shall conduct the hearing, unless the report finding is for incompetency or the commissioner learns that the matter is contested. In the latter event, the hearing shall be conducted by the duty judge for the week when the report is received or the commissioner learns that the matter is contested unless the date of receipt is a Thursday or Friday, in which case the hearing shall be conducted by the duty judge for the following week. If the commissioner finds a defendant competent, the commissioner shall complete the initial appearance.

      2. If the order is made by the duty judge prior to bind over, that judge shall conduct the hearing and retain the case until bind over or dismissal.

      3. If the order is made by the assigned judge, that judge shall conduct the hearing.

      DHFS shall fax the report to the court, the district attorney, and defense counsel.

    3. The duty judge will hear de novo hearings on mental commitment probable cause hearings and conduct hearings on juvenile mental or developmental disability treatment facility admissions as required by sec. 51.13(4). Stats.. The duty judge before whom the first appearance is made shall be responsible for finishing the case.

  6. Miscellaneous Responsibilities of the Duty Judge

    1. Indigency waivers of costs and fees in any non-criminal case type prior to the case being filed, if after initial administrative review by the Clerk of Courts' Office the waiver petition is not granted. After a case has been filed, indigency waivers and appointment of counsel will be heard by the assigned trial judge.

    2. Certification of birth and marriage documents and amendment of birth certificates, only if the judge assigned through the civil tab system is unavailable.

    3. Requests to remove files (especially to expedite civil case mediation). [See also Rule 110]

    4. Requests for ex parte restraining orders only if the assigned judge is not in the courthouse to review the papers. The assigned court shall attempt to find time to hold the hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction.

    5. Be available to sign extradition papers if requested and will keep the case until completion.

    6. Other routine matters requiring a judge's approval or attention if the assigned judge is not available and will not be available within a reasonable time, or the clerk of court requests, such as out of state subpoenas, restraining orders or discharge of bankruptcy orders.

    7. Emergency matters after working hours such as issuing search warrants, emergency temporary guardianships and protective placements, juvenile emergency custody hearings, and emergency medical care consents when parents are absent.

    8. Paternity warrants in cases which have not yet been assigned to a circuit judge.

    9. Conduct any hearings on orders to show cause prepared by the probate office for delinquent probate or guardianship accounts. The probate commissioner shall prepare the order to show cause for the signature of the duty judge serving the week falling 30 days from the date the order is prepared. That judge shall provide a date and time during that week for the hearing. Notice shall be sent by the probate office by certified mail. The duty judge hearing the delinquency issue shall retain jurisdiction until disposition of the order to show cause.

    10. Probable cause (Riverside) determinations and probable cause determinations in Chapter 980 (Sexually Violent Persons Commitments). [See also Rule 316]

    11. A time block will be set aside by the duty judge to hear agreed pleas, bail hearings, pleas for time served and other short matters that would potentially serve to release an inmate from jail. The time block will be Thursday from 10:30 to 12:00 noon. The originally assigned judge may choose not to approve transfer to the duty judge for this purpose. The originally assigned judge will retain jurisdiction if the duty judge conducts a matter under this heading.


103: Assignment of Ancillary Proceedings Growing Out of Previously Assigned Cases

  1. Post-Judgment Hearing and Motions in Civil and Family Court Cases

    All post-judgment matters will remain with the branch that entered the judgment subject to the authority of the chief judge to reassign the case. [See also Rule 401]

  2. Post Disposition Proceedings in Criminal Cases

    All post-judgment matters will remain with the branch that entered the judgment subject to the authority of the chief judge to reassign the case.

  3. Bench Warrants Outstanding; Assigned Judge

    1. In felony cases where a defendant is brought in on an outstanding bench warrant issued after bind over the hearing on the bench warrant and any further matters will be heard by the Branch that was assigned the trial in the case pursuant to either random draw or intake at initial appearance. If that Branch is no longer in the criminal division, a criminal division Branch will be randomly assigned.

      In felony cases where a defendant is brought in on an outstanding bench warrant issued prior to bind over the hearing on the bench warrant and any bail matters will be assigned to the initial appearance court commissioner and the preliminary hearing will be heard by the commissioner or the duty judge. The trial judge will remain the Branch assigned at initial appearance. If that Branch is no longer in the criminal division, a criminal division Branch will be randomly assigned.

    2. A non-felony bench warrant shall be returned to the assigned trial Branch. If that Branch is no longer in the criminal division, a criminal division Branch shall be randomly assigned.

    3. A post-judgment bench warrant shall be returned to the assigned trial judge. If that judge is no longer an active circuit court judge, a criminal division Branch shall be randomly assigned.


104: Filing & Assigning Writs of Certiorari, Writs of Habeas Corpus, Writs of Prohibition & Other Writ

All writs will be filed in the clerk of court office, be given a CV number and assigned pursuant to the civil draw. If the assigned judge determines that the writ is a challenge to an underlying conviction or sentence, then the case will be administratively reassigned to the sentencing judge, if the sentencing judge is still an active circuit court judge.

Writs, and all other cases, filed by prisoners shall be processed according to the policy developed and approved by the prisoner litigation supervising judge, the clerk of circuit court and the chief judge. This policy will be on file in the offices of the clerk of court and the district court administrator.

Should there be any questions as to where an extraordinary writ is to be assigned, court personnel are to contact the chief judge, or in her/his absence, the district court administrator.


105: Conduct of Counsel and Self-represented Parties

All opening statements, questioning of witnesses and closing arguments shall be done from counsel table or the podium unless, upon request, otherwise permitted by the presiding judge.


106: Objections

During jury trials, objections to questions or evidence shall be made solely by stating "objection" and the succinct legal ground therefore (i.e., relevancy, competency, hearsay, etc.) without argument or elucidation. Responses from opposing counsel are to be made only upon a request to be heard by counsel and/or upon leave of the presiding judge.


107: Case Captions

  1. Caption

    In the initial pleadings (e.g., complaint) the caption shall include the case classification type and code. The title of the action shall include the full names and addresses of all the parties, including persons appearing in a representative capacity (e.g., a guardian of a ward). All pleadings/papers shall be captioned State of Wisconsin, Dane county Branch ____, Circuit Court. The caption shall include the title of the action, the case number, and a name of document (e.g., answer). Subsequent documents filed after the pleadings should, at a minimum, state the full name of the first party, followed by “et al.”

  2. Pleadings

    Every pleading, motion or other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall contain the name, state bar number, telephone number, and address of the attorney. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall include on the pleading, motion or other paper his or her name, signature and address. Papers that do not contain the required information will not be accepted for filing. If more than one case number is listed on any document, a duplicate signed original must be filed for each additional case number on the document. Documents exceeding one page in length will not be accepted for filing unless stapled or bound at the top of the document with a secure device, including but not limited to metal tab fasteners or other devices as approved by the Clerk of Court. Paper clips and binder clips are not sufficient.


108: Specificity of Motions

All motions must state with specificity the grounds and factual basis therefore. General assertions of violation of constitutional rights will not be considered specific. General assertions of insufficiency will not be considered specific. Such nonspecific motions may be denied sua sponte by the court with notice to the parties of such denial and with leave to renew the motions in a timely manner.


109: Withdrawal of Counsel

  1. General

    Attorneys will not be allowed to withdraw from a case without the consent of the assigned judge. Said consent will be given only upon a proper showing of cause and the presentation of a written order allowing said withdrawal.

  2. Criminal

    All requests by counsel to withdraw from criminal traffic, misdemeanor and felony cases shall be done by written motion, except that in misdemeanor cases the State Public Defender can substituted counsel if that substitution takes place within 30 days of initial appearance. Except where required by law, counsel will not be permitted to withdraw if scheduled proceedings will be delayed.


110: Removing Files

  1. Civil, Criminal, Family

    Files shall be reviewed by the public, parties or attorneys only in a court office. Files may be removed from these offices only if good cause is shown and only upon the receipt of a specific court order from the assigned judge that grants authorization to do so. Under no circumstances shall original records be kept longer than three (3) days. A written receipt shall be obtained for each file removed from the court office.

  2. Probate

    Files dated prior to 1989, and for which microfilm records exist, may be checked out by an attorney or agents for title companies through the register or a deputy register with the approval of a duty judge for a period not to exceed three days.


111: Lengthy Trials

When a judge has completed six (6) days in a trial commencing with the start of testimony, the judge's name will be withdrawn from the assignment systems until that trial is completed. The deputy clerk of the branch is responsible for notifying the assignment clerks of such a lengthy trial and its completion date.


112: Weapons in Courtroom – Deleted, See Rule 125

113: Facsimile Transmission of Documents to the Court

  1. Pursuant to section 801.16(2)(a) Wis. Stats. (Filing), facsimile documents transmitted directly to the courts shall be accepted for filing only if:

    1. No filing fee is required.

    2. No additional fee or charge must be paid by the circuit court for accepting or receiving the facsimile document.

  2. Facsimile documents transmitted to a non-court agency, party or company for reception and ultimate transmittal to the court shall be accepted for filing only if:

    1. No filing fee is required.

    2. No additional fee or charge must be paid by the circuit court for accepting or receiving the facsimile documents.

    The party transmitting the facsimile document is solely responsible for ensuring its timely and complete receipt.

  3. The circuit court, judge or clerk is not responsible for:

    1. Errors or failures in transmission that result in missing or illegible documents.

    2. Periods when a circuit court facsimile machine is not operational for any reason.

    Papers filed by facsimile transmission are considered filed when transmitted, except that papers filed by facsimile transmission completed after regular business hours of the clerk of courts office, are considered filed the next business day.

  4. No facsimile transmission shall exceed 15 pages, inclusive of any cover heet, unless the assigned judge or commissioner allows an exception on a case-by-case basis. The first page of the transmission shall certify that such an exception has been approved.


114: Americans With Disabilities Act

  1. Requiring Medical Documentation in ADA Situations

    The decision to request medical documentation of a disability to determine either whether an individual falls under the ADA, or in order to determine appropriate modification of policy, practice or procedure, should be a judicial determination, made according to rules or guidelines adopted by the court and after consultation with the judicial ADA Liaison or the court or county ADA coordinators. Medical documentation may be in written or verbal form. Only a judge shall issue a request for medical documentation. If a court commissioner believes documentation is necessary for a specific proceeding, the commissioner shall consult with the presiding judge of the division, who shall issue the request if appropriate.

    Requests for medical documentation should be made on a case-by-case basis and only in extraordinary circumstances, for example, when the disability is affecting the continuation of the proceedings. Unnecessary or irrelevant medical information should not be requested. If an individual refuses to provide the court with medical information for ADA purposes the court may not order it to be provided. The court shall attempt to meet the needs of the situation without that information. If a request for medical documentation is made, the treating physician may be asked for a recommendation for an appropriate modification of policy, practice or procedure. The court should consider the recommendation in making a decision.

    Medical information provided to the court for ADA purposes shall be treated confidentially. It shall be made available only to the judicial officer hearing the matter or any other the judge feels necessary to determine appropriate accommodations. After use by the judge who requested it, the information shall be sealed in a labeled envelope and stored with the designated court ADA coordinator. Information reported by the individual concerned is not considered confidential, but medical data supplied by medical or psychiatric personnel shall always be treated as confidential.

  2. Notices

    Information shall be included on the jury summons as to where prospective jurors with ADA concerns should call. The following language shall be included on all notices, warrants, and subpoenas:

    "If you need help in this matter because of a disability, call (608) 266-4311 or TDD (608) 266-4625 and ask for the Court ADA Coordinator."


115: Length of Briefs

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, typed initial and/or response briefs of a party or guardian ad litem shall include all information required in the caption pursuant to Dane County Circuit Court Rule 107, and have the following format:

  • Limited in length to forty (40) pages;

  • One inch top and bottom margins and one inch side margins;

  • Double spaced; and,

  • Typed size/font no smaller than 10 cpi, or 12 point proportional.

Hand written initial and/or briefs of a party or guardian ad litem shall not exceed 20,000 words. Reply briefs and briefs by non-parties shall be limited to 10 pages formatted as above, and hand written reply and non-party briefs shall not exceed 4,000 words, unless ordered by the court.


116: Staff Attorney Memoranda

Staff Attorney memoranda are judicial work product. All such memoranda will be prefaced with a clear and express statement identifying them as "judicial work product," and said memoranda shall remain confidential. The original memos will be kept in binders in the staff attorney's office and will also generally be available to judges and law clerks on the network. The judge to whom the particular file is assigned may keep a copy of a memo, but that copy should not be kept in the court file. Court personnel are directed not to make copies of these memoranda without the express approval of the assigned judge.


117: Approval of Private Investigators at County Expense

(Criminal or Juvenile Cases)

Court appointed counsel or pro se defendants must obtain prior court approval for appointment of private investigators at county expense upon a showing of need. Such a showing may be made on an ex parte basis. Compensation for court appointed private investigators will be for no more than the current rate paid by the state public defender. The initial appointment will be for a maximum of ten (10) hours of investigation. After the initial ten hours have been utilized, application for authority to pay for additional investigative services must then be made upon a showing of good cause.


118: Alternative Dispute Resolution / Notice of Mediation in Foreclosure Cases

Unless otherwise directed by the court, ADR will be used pursuant to section 802.12 Wis. Stats. (Alternative Dispute Resolution) in all areas where appropriate.

In foreclosure actions, the Court shall require the plaintiff to inform the defendant in writing, using the forms adopted by the court, at the time of service, that ADR procedures (Sec. 802.12 Wis. Stats.) may be requested by either party. Such forms, when served, shall be printed on pink paper and place directly behind the summons. This rule shall apply only to residential property with up to four units.

The adopted forms shall be available both on the Clerk of Courts website and in hard copy from the Clerk of Court's office and shall set forth the ADR procedures and deadlines.


119: New Judges and Substitutions

When a new judge takes office and is assigned the pending case load from his or her predecessor, the ten (10) days permitted by statute to file a substitution shall run from whichever is later, the date of actual notice from the court under the jurisdiction of the new judge, or the date the judge was sworn in.


120: Court Appointments of Guardians Ad Litem - Deleted

121: Electronic Devices

Audible signals of cellular and mobile telephones and pagers shall be turned off when in a courtroom or commissioner hearing room. Use of silent mobile devices may be used by professionals for the purpose of court related work. Use of electronic equipment shall be at the discretion of the presiding judge or commissioner.

While on a sequestered jury or while deliberating, jurors shall not be permitted to use computers or other electronic equipment for communication or access to the internet without the express permission of the trial judge.


122: Holidays and Closing Court Offices

Dane County offices, including the clerk of circuit court and register in probate, are closed on the following days: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve.

In the event that normal business hours cannot be maintained or normal business cannot be conducted in the office of the clerk of court and/or the register in probate, any papers filed or fees paid on the next day business is conducted shall be deemed timely, if a deadline passed while the office was unable to conduct business. Halt of business operations or closure of the clerk’s or register’s office, for any reason other than total closure of county government, shall only be approved by the chief judge upon request by the clerk and/or register.


123: Unpaid Court Obligations, Entry of Civil Judgment

Collection efforts for any and all unpaid court obligations past due, may be pursued by the entry of a civil judgment which the clerk of circuit court is directed to sign under policies as approved by the chief judge. This authority applies to all civil judgments entered by the clerk on or after August 20, 2002. Further, action by the clerk of circuit court to suspend operating privileges for failure to pay court obligations as authorized by Ch. 345.47(1) shall not take place until all other collection methods (i.e. reduction to civil judgment, referral to collections, state tax refund certification) have been given a reasonable opportunity to be effective.


124: Requesting Continuances of Court Hearings

In any type of case, an unrepresented party or attorney requesting that any hearing or trial be set over to a later date shall make diligent efforts to ascertain the position of all other unrepresented parties and attorneys in the case prior to contacting the court. Requests for continuances shall be made in writing only, which may be sent by fax to the court, and shall contain the reason for the request as well as the position on the request of all other unrepresented parties and attorneys or a statement that, despite the described efforts to contact the others, the requestor has been unable to ascertain their positions on the request. Requests for continuance shall be made not less than five (5) working days before a scheduled hearing. Unless the court notifies the parties and attorneys that the request or stipulation for continuance has been granted, they must appear at the originally scheduled time.


125: Concealed Carry of Weapons in the Dane County Courthouse

No one other than on-duty sworn law enforcement personnel may go armed with a weapon in the Dane County Courthouse


Rules for Criminal / Traffic Cases

201: Defendant's Demeanor

The defendant shall be seated at counsel table at all times unless otherwise permitted by the court.


202: Appearance in Court

  1. Final pre-trials shall be attended by counsel, if any, and the defendant. The defendant must appear unless excused by the court, even if a written authorization is presented. If the defendant is in custody, attendance is at the discretion of the court.

  2. All persons charged with a felony must be present at the initial appearance unless, due to exceptional circumstances and upon motion by the defense, the judge or court commissioner enters an order authorizing non-appearance.


203: Jury Instructions - Deleted

204: Amounts of Restitution – Moved to Rule 224

205: Case Assignment at Initial Appearance

  1. Initial Assignments

    1. At the initial appearance in a criminal case a trial judge shall be assigned using a six week rotational intake cycle, pursuant to policies approved by the judges, and the preliminary hearing judge (in felonies) shall be assigned pursuant to the Duty Week roster as shown on the Master Calendar except as provided by this rule.

    2. If there is a bail hearing held prior to the initial appearance the judge will be assigned based on who was on intake the date of the bail hearing. The ADA at initial appearance will advise the Commissioner at the time of initial appearance so the clerk assigns the correct judge and notes the same on the notice in hand.

    3. If an initial appearance is set over the judge assigned the case for trial will be that on intake the week the initial appearance is held.

    4. A single judge shall be assigned all files presented against a defendant at initial appearance.

    5. If a defendant has a criminal case pending with a judge currently in the criminal rotation or is a co-defendant in a pending case, all cases shall be assigned to the criminal rotation judge with the earliest pending case. The district attorney shall advise the initial appearance court commissioner, who shall assign the judge of the earlier pending, or co-defendant, case.

    6. If a defendant has a legal status from a prior case that may cause an appearance before a judge currently in the criminal rotation is on a probation hold at the time of the initial appearance, the new case shall be assigned to that judge the judge currently in the criminal rotation who most recently placed the defendant on probation or extended supervision. If there is no judge in the criminal division who placed the defendant on probation or extended supervision, the case should be assigned to the intake judge that week.

    7. Nothing in this rule overrides the authority of the Chief Judge to assign any specific case to an individual judge.

  2. Re-assignments

    Judicial reassignment after substitution and self-disqualification will be done randomly through the CCAP judicial assignment application or by specific order of the Chief Judge.

  3. Scheduling at Initial Appearance

    1. At the initial appearance in all misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases, a final pretrial conference date shall be given to the parties, except as provided in this rule. Each criminal division judge shall provide blocks of time to the arraignment clerk for final pretrial conferences on the week noted as ‘FPT’ on the master calendar at least 45 days in advance of the final pretrial conference dates. The arraignment clerk may ask the criminal division judge for more time blocks if needed.

      Time blocks will be set according to the number and pattern adopted by the court. using the following pattern:

      Tuesday morning – 35 slots

      Wednesday morning – 35 slots

      Thursday morning – 50 slots

      A judge may change the FPT week and adjust these time blocks with sufficient notice to the initial appearance clerk.

    2. In felony cases, a defendant who waives time limits for a preliminary hearing shall have their case scheduled for a Monday afternoon status conference. A defendant, who does not waive time limits, shall be scheduled for a preliminary hearing, pursuant to local rule.

    3. When a new non-felony case is assigned at initial appearance to a judge other than the intake judge due to an earlier pending case, co-defendant of a pending case or probation hold, the district attorney shall advise the court commissioner of any scheduled court dates. The new case will be scheduled at the same time as the pending case. If there is no pre-existing date the next FPT time block will be used.

    4. A non-felony case with a speedy trial demand filed shall be referred directly to the branch office for scheduling.

  4. Rotation

    When any new case filed after April 1 in a rotation year has:

    • a defendant with a pending case, or a defendant who has a legal status as described in sub. (1)(a) is on a probation hold at the time of IA, and

    • The judge who would normally be assigned is leaving the criminal division,

    in place of assigning the judge on intake, the case will be assigned to the judge entering the division who is teamed for the purpose of calendar and schedule coordination with the judge leaving the division.


206: Bail Hearings

  1. Except where the prosecution and defendant otherwise agree, bail hearings before the judges will not be held within 72 hours of bail being previously set and will be scheduled only upon written motion.

  2. If a complaint and warrant has been issued for a defendant’s arrest, counsel or the defendant may file a motion for a bail hearing / initial appearance. The request shall be filed in writing at the clerk of court office and a copy provided to the district attorney office. The request shall select at which regularly scheduled out-of-custody initial appearance session the defendant intends to appear. The request should be filed no later than 1.5 working days prior to the selected session. The clerk of court office shall schedule the case for a bail hearing / initial appearance at that time. Pending the bail hearing / initial appearance, the warrant shall only be withdrawn by stipulation of the parties.

In-custody bail hearings before the initial appearance court commissioner will be held upon request according to the following schedule:

  • A defendant booked into jail before noon Monday is eligible for a bail hearing Wednesday.

  • A defendant booked into jail before noon Wednesday is eligible for a bail hearing Thursday.

  • A defendant booked into jail before noon Thursday is eligible for a bail hearing Friday.

  • A defendant booked into jail before noon Friday is eligible for a bail hearing Monday.

  • A defendant booked into jail before noon Sunday is eligible for a bail hearing Tuesday.


207: Presentence Reports and Scheduling

At any time after an adjudication of a defendant’s guilt for a felony, and at the court’s discretion, a presentence investigation may be ordered. The clerk's office will then forward the minute sheet with the request for presentence investigation to Probation and Parole, Department of Corrections. The PSI should be prepared and filed within 30 days from the date the presentence is ordered. Sentencing should be held as soon thereafter as possible. The agent writing the report will attend the sentencing unless excused by the judge prior to the hearing. Agents requesting not to appear shall give notice of the request to the prosecution and defense.

A pre-sentence report or memorandum prepared on behalf of a defendant shall be filed with the court and served on opposing counsel no less than one week prior to the sentencing hearing. Reports filed after this deadline might not be considered by the court and will not be grounds for postponement of the sentencing hearing.


208: Non-Felony Time for Substitution

In all FO, TR, CT, and CM cases the defendant shall have 20 days after the initial appearance to file a request for substitution of the assigned judge.


209: Felony Arraignment Procedure – in part Deleted, in part moved to Rule 224

210: Time Payments

The payment of fines, costs, fees, surcharges, etc. will be done within 60 days of sentencing. If a defendant desires more than 60 days to pay, an application will be submitted within ten (10) days of the date of conviction to the court collections officer. Any request for an extension of time to pay past the time set forth in the original agreement shall be submitted to and reviewed by the court collection officer, subject to review by the assigned judge if requested by the party.


211: Huber/Work Release Privileges

  1. Except as set forth in 2., periods of confinement in jail, either by sentence or as a condition of probation, shall be with Huber / work release privileges unless otherwise ordered by the court.

  2. Unless otherwise ordered by the court at sentencing, defendants convicted of and placed in the jail as a sentence or as a condition of probation for the following offenses will not be eligible for Huber / work release privileges until the defendant has demonstrated 90 consecutive days, including presentence incarceration, of appropriate behavior in the jail as defined by written policies of the Office of Dane County Sheriff. A defendant may seek review of the Sheriff’s denial of Huber / work release privileges before the sentencing judge.


    1. Robbery, armed943.32(2)
    2. Kidnapping, all charges 940.31
    3. Taking Hostages 940.305(1) & (2)
    4. Sexual Assault 940.225(1) & (1)(a) & (b) & (c)
    5. Sexual Assault of a child 948.02(1) & (1)(a)
    6. Stalking, all charges 940.32
    7. Homicide 940.01(1)(a) & (b), 940.05(1) & (2g)
    8. Felony Murder 940.03
    9. Battery by Prisoner 940.20(1)
    10. Assault by Prisoner 946.43(1m)(a) & (1m)(b)
    11. Prisoner Expel/Throw Bodily Substance 946.43(2m)(a)
    12. Battery to Law Enforcement Officer/Firefighter 940.20(2)


212: Community Service Rate - Deleted

213: Jail Commitment Time

Unless otherwise ordered all commitments to jail will commence by 7:00 a.m. on the day the jail time is to begin.


214: Costs and Fees in Multiple Files/Counts

One set of court costs, victim-witness fees, jail assessment fees, and domestic abuse assessments (if applicable) shall be imposed for each count.


215: Enforcement of Fines and Costs

  1. Jail will not be ordered as an alternative for the nonpayment of fines, costs and assessments in non-criminal cases;

  2. Suspension of driving privileges will not be ordered as an alternative for nonpayment of fines, costs and assessments in non-driving CT, CM and CF cases;

  3. Suspension of driving privileges for up to 2 years may be ordered to enforce payment of fines, costs and assessments in driving related non-criminal cases;

  4. Nonpayment of fines, costs and assessments will be reduced to a civil judgment and sent for collections by the Clerk of Courts;

  5. Courts may take into account days spent in custody, along with all other relevant factors, in setting fines, costs and periods of incarceration.


216: Electronic Monitoring - Deleted

217: Deadline for Resolution of Jury Cases in Criminal Traffic, Misdemeanor and Felony Case - Deleted

218: Dress of Defendants - Deleted

219: Appointment of Counsel/County Reimbursement

Appointment of counsel shall be made by the assigned trial judge. When the court appoints criminal defense counsel at county expense (not an appointment by the public defender's office), at the time the appointment is made the defendant will be required to sign a statement acknowledging that he or she may be ordered to reimburse the county for all or part of the counsel fees through a wage assignment or other means. The court may order immediate partial payment of fees or execution of a wage assignment as a condition of appointment.


220: Treatment Alternative Program

  1. If a court stays a portion of a sentence for participation and completion of the Treatment Alternative Program (TAP), or a similar program, any portion not stayed will be served without good time under section 302.43 Wis. Stats. (Good Time), or good time for service as a trustee in the jail, except as provided in subsection (3).

  2. Any sentence credit earned by the defendant under section 973.155 Wis. Stats (Sentence Credit) will be credited to the portion of the sentence not stayed.

  3. If a court lifts the stay on the stayed portion of the sentence, good time under section 302.43 Wis. Stats. (Good Time), and good time earned for service as trustee in the jail will apply to the entire sentence.


221: Sentence Credit

Sentence credit for time served shall be determined by the time of sentencing by the district attorney and the defense counsel. Specific dates and the total number of days shall be stated on the record. Upon request and at the discretion of the court, the order establishing the amount of sentence credit ordered may be delayed for up to 14 days from the date of sentencing, but no longer. Defense counsel is not relieved from responsibility in a case until sentence credit is determined.


222: Multi-Branch Files

Contested and uncontested sentencings may be heard by branches other than that assigned with the approval of the assigned judge and both parties. The parties will be responsible for transferring the file to the branch hearing the matter.


223: Applying Inmate Wages

Unless otherwise ordered, the judgment of conviction shall provide that when a defendant is sentenced to prison all court financial obligations shall be paid at the rate of 25% of the prison wages and work release funds and the balance remaining at release from prison be paid as a condition of extended supervision or parole at a rate determined by the supervising agent. Restitution shall be paid pursuant to separate court order.


224: Scheduling Order

The Circuit Court adopts the Standard Scheduling order for Criminal Cases with the full force of circuit court rules. The Standard Order will be maintained in an appendix to the local rules.


Rules for Civil, Administrative Review & Small Claims Cases

301: Jury Calendar

The district court administrator (DCA) should establish a master and jury week calendar at least 15 months in advance. Requests for additional jury weeks shall be submitted in writing to the DCA and the jury clerk. All changes, "trades" or other modifications of the master calendar should be made through the DCA so that an accurate and up-to-date calendar can be maintained.


302: Jury Selection

All juries will be selected on the first day of the week of the trial unless the clerk of court designates a different or additional day.


303: Trial Briefs, Proposed Verdict and Instructions

Unless otherwise provided by the judge assigned the case, all trial briefs, proposed verdict and instructions shall be filed one week prior to jury selection of the case. Trial briefs shall be exchanged by counsel unless ordered otherwise by the assigned judge. [See also Rule 115]


304: Continuances

All stipulated requests for continuance of trial date shall require the consent of the parties in writing or on the record and must be for good cause shown. Non-stipulated requests for continuance must be on motion and hearing and for good cause shown by the party or with the party's written consent. All requests for continuance are subject to the approval of the court.


305: Default Judgment Hearings

Except as to mortgage foreclosures, in all actions where personal service was obtained upon the defendant, no notice to defendant is required prior to entry of judgment.

In mortgage foreclosure actions, the plaintiff shall include the specific property description in the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment submitted for the court's signature.

In cases where no personal service is obtained upon the defendant (i.e., substitute or published), notice of motion for default judgment shall be given to defendant by regular mail at defendant's last known address. The notice shall provide that in the event defendant does not request a hearing from the court, in writing, on plaintiff's motion within 15 days of the date of the notice, default judgment may be entered.

Hearing requests shall be heard by the court as soon as practical. Upon the expiration of the time to request a hearing, plaintiff may apply to the court for default judgment, accompanied by an affidavit to the court for default judgment, accompanied by an affidavit of the aforesaid notice defendant.

In actions where damages are not liquidated, a hearing shall be conducted to determine the amount of the judgment. The court may order a hearing to determine the amount of judgment in any case.

Any judge may in an individual case require further notice or proof regarding service, damages or costs if appropriate.


306: Administrative Review Venue and Briefing Schedule

Section 102.23(1)(a) Wis. Stats. (Judicial Review) provides that review of unemployment compensation and worker's compensation cases shall be "in the circuit court of the county where the petitioner resides, except that if the petitioner is a state agency, the proceedings shall be in the circuit court of the county where the respondent resides. The proceedings may be brought in any circuit court if all parties stipulate and that court agrees". The court will not review unemployment compensation and worker's compensation, unless the petitioner or the respondent, where the state agency is the petitioner, resides in Dane County.

This local rule does not change Wisconsin Statutes such as section 227.40 Wis. Stats. (Declaratory Judgment Proceedings), providing for declaratory judgment proceedings reviewing the validity of a rule to be brought in Dane County, or section 801.50 Wis. Stats. (Venue in civil actions or special proceedings), providing for civil actions brought against the state, state board, commission or officer to be brought in the County of Dane unless another place is specifically authorized by law, or section 77.59(6)(b) Wis. Stats. (Deficiency and refund determinations), providing for appeals from decisions of the tax appeals commission to be appealed in Dane County Circuit Court.


307: Summary Judgment Motion Scheduling

With all motions for summary judgment, except as to mortgage foreclosures actions and unless otherwise directed by the court, there shall be submitted a brief, affidavits, and notice of standard briefing schedule (30 days for response brief and affidavits, 15 days after service thereof for reply brief or letter stating none to be filed). Summary judgment briefs shall cite to the record for factual assertions. The motion will be decided without oral argument unless otherwise ordered. [See also Rule 115]


308: Small Claims: Service of Summons in Dane County

The plaintiff must arrange service and serve the defendant(s) by personal service, substituted service, or publication and provide proof of service to the court; section 799.12(2),(3),(4) Wis. Stats.  (Service of Summons).

Except in eviction and replevin actions, summonses in small claims actions where the plaintiff has had filing fees waived due to indigency, may be initially served by the clerk of court office by regular mail to defendants with addresses within Dane County, provided the summons and any supporting documents do not exceed five (5) 8.5 v 11” pages. The filing party is responsible for arranging service of summons that exceed 5 pages. The clerk of court office will advise the plaintiff if a summons is returned by the post office. If a summons is returned to the clerk of court's office by the post office, or if the defendant’s mailing address is outside Dane County, the plaintiff must serve the defendant(s) by personal service, substituted service, or publication and provide proof of service to the court; section 799.12(2),(3),(4) Wis. Stats. (Service of Summons).

All rent and damage claims and deficiency claims are to be mailed to the defendant(s) by the plaintiff and shall include a breakdown of the rent and/or damage expenses. Proof of service must be provided to the clerk of court prior to the entry of a money judgment. Proof of service may be established by an affidavit of mailing verifying that the document was mailed to the defendant(s) at their last known address and was not returned as undeliverable by the post office to the plaintiff. If the rent and damage or deficiency claim is returned as undeliverable by the post office to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must serve the defendant(s) by personal service, substituted service, or publication and provide the proof of service to the court.


309: Small Claims: Filing Written Answer in Lieu of Appearance at Joinder

Except in eviction and replevin actions involving Dane County residents, a defendant in a small claims action may file a written answer in any action specified in section 799.01 Wis. Stats. (Applicability of Chapter). Such written answer must be received by the clerk of court office not later than the return date set in the summons. A copy of the written answer must be mailed to plaintiff's lawyer, if any, or to plaintiff. If a written answer is filed pursuant to this rule, neither plaintiff nor defendant is required to appear on the return date contained in the summons, section 799.22(4) Wis. Stats. (Judgment on failure to appear or answer) and section 799.05(3) Wis. Stats. (Summons).


310: Time of Hearing and Method of Service

In evictions and replevin actions, the petition/motion to set aside judgment shall be served by mail with certificate of mailing or affidavit of mailing not later than 48 hours before the specified hearing time.


311: Small Claims; Issuance of Writ of Restitution

An affidavit of default is required, identifying non-compliance with stipulations for payment, before ex parte writ of restitution will be ordered.


312: Consolidation of Civil Cases

  1. Small Claims Cases

    Motions to consolidate filed prior to a judicial assignment shall be filed with the clerk of court office and heard by the court commissioner. If the consolidation is granted, the cases shall be consolidated into the earliest filed case. Motions to consolidate small claims cases filed after assignments to a judge will be beard by the assigned judge.

  2. Large Claims Cases

    Motions to consolidate shall be assigned to and heard by the judge with the earliest filed case. If the consolidation is granted, the cases shall be assigned to the judge with the earliest filed case and the order shall include a signature line for the approval of all the assigned judges. One tab will be pulled for all cases consolidated, unless otherwise directed by the chief judge and the tabs of the replaced judges will be returned to the draw.


313: Small Claims Earnings Garnishments

Pursuant to section 812.35 Wis. Stats. (Commencement of Action), the clerk of court is authorized to issue earnings garnishment forms after payment of the fee but before the filing of the notice of earnings garnishment. The notice of earnings garnishment must be filed by the creditor no later than five (5) business days after the date the garnishee is served.


314: Small Claims Filings

In civil actions in which the amount claimed is within the limits set by section 799.01 Wis. Stats. (Applicability of Chapter), the case shall be filed as a small claims action and shall proceed under small claims procedures.


315: John Doe Proceedings

All John Doe cases will be assigned sequential case numbers using the year prefix and the JD designation. This number shall be noted on all further pleadings and exhibits. A prosecutor may file directly with a judge, and that judge's office will advise the clerk of court administrative staff. All others shall file with the clerk of circuit court office, and a judge shall be randomly selected from the civil-family-contested probate draw.


316: Chapter 980 Cases

  1. Cases filed under this statute shall be assigned to judges using the civil/family/contested probate draw. The trial judge will be assigned when the petition is filed.

  2. The Duty Judge serving on the day the petition is filed shall review the petition to determine whether to issue an order for detention of the person who is the subject of the petition. Once a petition is before a Duty Judge, that judge is responsible for the case until a ruling is made. If the Duty Judge approves a substitution or disqualifies him/herself, the file will be forwarded to the assigned trial judge.

  3. Once the detention ruling is made, the file will be delivered to the assigned trial judge.


317: Police and Fire Commission Reviews

If a petitioner files both a certiorari review and a statutory review, section 62.13(5) Wis. Stats. (Police and Fire Departments), concerning the same disciplinary action of the Police and Fire Commission, the two cases shall be assigned to the same judge. It is the obligation of the party filing the second such action to inform the clerk of court at the time of filing that there was a previous case filed regarding the same PFC action and the name of the judge to whom it is assigned. A judge tab will be drawn for each case.


318: Holding Orders for Signature

Any order submitted by an attorney or party and sent to a judge for signature shall be held for 5 working days after date of receipt to allow opposing counsel or parties an opportunity to comment. If no objection is received the court may sign the order. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if a submitting attorney certifies under this rule that a proposed order or judgment was circulated electronically or by mail to all opposing counsel, who all affirmatively responded that they approved of or had no objection to the proposed order or judgment, the court may choose to sign the document immediately.


319: Motions to Compel Discovery or for Protective Orders

No motion to compel discovery nor for a protective order shall be scheduled for hearing unless the moving party demonstrates in the affidavit that accompanies the motion that he/she has made a good faith effort to obtain the relief requested by informal consultation with the party against whom the motion is brought.


320: Consolidated Creditors Actions

Section 218.04(9j) Wis. Stats allows collection agencies to combine multiple accounts against a single debtor and bring one consolidated action on behalf of the creditor or creditors. The summons and complaint must be prepared by an attorney or at the direction of an attorney. The individual creditor or creditors’ names must be listed in the caption, or the check box that states “See attached for multiple plaintiffs” must be checked, with the attachment listing each creditor’s individual claim(s), and their address information. A separate judgment amount will be entered for each creditor. If the judgment is to be docketed, a separate docketing fee will be charged per creditor. The court will not determine what portion of the costs should be awarded to each creditor. The attorney filing the action will be required to apportion the costs between creditors and submit a bill of costs to the court so that the judgment can properly reflect the portion of the costs awarded to each creditor. A proposed bill of costs shall be filed no later than three business days prior to the scheduled return date.


Rules for Family Court

401: Family Court Structure

  1. Family Court Matters

    Family Court Matters shall include all actions defined in Chapter 767 and Chapter 769 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Judges will be assigned family cases through a family-civil-contested probate tab system in proportions determined by the chief judge. All post judgment matters will be assigned to the judge who entered the judgment. [See also Rule 103(1)]

  2. Filing Original Documents

    Family court actions must be commenced in the clerk of court office. After commencement, original documents may be filed in the clerk of court office, (family) court commissioner center, or the branch office of the assigned judge. Any document requiring the signature of a court commissioner shall be taken to the court commissioner center for signature. If papers are filed in the branch office or the clerk of court office, a second copy should not be filed in court commissioner center.

  3. Scheduling Divorce Trials

    When appropriate, the family court commissioner shall conduct a status conference and shall enter a scheduling order which provides a list of disputed issues and an estimated length of trial, and which may include a discovery schedule and the date at which the case may be ready for trial. The order shall be sent to the assigned court branch. Sanctions may be imposed for non-compliance with scheduled orders.

  4. Approval of Indigent Filing

    The family court commissioner is authorized to order waiver of filing fees and costs and family court counseling fees as provided in section 814.29. Wis. Stats. (Security of costs, service and fees for indigents). A previous finding of indigency for a party in a case may be reviewed upon the request of a party, the family court counselor, a commissioner or judge. Income verification will not be required for any finding of indigency made by the commissioners or judges unless ordered by the court.

  5. Public Assistance Involvement

    When public assistance is involved, a copy of all pleadings, financial statements, orders and judgments must be served on the Dane County Child Support Agency.


402: Proceedings before the Family Court Commissioner

  1. Hearing before the family court commissioner shall not be used for discovery purposes, either in post or pre-judgment matters.

  2. Pre-Judgment Matters:

    All motions or orders to show cause for temporary orders shall be brought before the family court commissioner with the right to a de novo hearing before a judge. Under appropriate circumstances, commissioners may elect to conduct hearings regarding sales of assets.

    Hearings before the family court commissioner shall not be used for discovery purposes. The family court commissioner may curtail discovery which is not relevant to the pending hearing and may modify motions or order to show cause which would require parties to bring materials to a hearing which would be more appropriately obtained through discovery procedure.

  3. Post-Judgment Matters:

    Actions to modify or enforce support orders, or to enforce property division, attorney fees orders and Family Court Counseling Service fee orders shall be filed in the Court Commissioner Center.

    All post-judgment motions to modify or enforce custody and placement shall be filed in the Court Commissioner Center. A Court Commissioner shall review the pleadings, and if legally sufficient, do any of the following: schedule the matter for a status hearing; refer the parties to Family Court Services for mediation or evaluation; or forward the papers to the assigned judge for further scheduling. Petitions to enforce placement under Wis. Stat. Sec. 767.471 that request injunctive relief will be forwarded to the assigned judge for hearing.

    All decisions of the Commissioner are subject to de novo review by the assigned judge.

  4. Scheduling

    If requested by the moving party, divorce temporary order hearings and status hearings on post-judgment custody and placement motions shall be scheduled within fifteen (15) working days. This 15 day rule applies only to the first hearing on the motion filed within 60 days of the commencement of the action. Subsequent motions for modifying temporary orders and all other pleadings shall be scheduled within 45 days of the request for hearing. These time frames may be shortened if good cause is shown for an earlier scheduling.

  5. Policy on De Novo Hearings

    Any party who was present at the hearing has the right to have the assigned judge hold a new hearing by filing a written request with the judge’s clerk, with a copy sent immediately to the opposing party, within 15 days of the oral decision of the family court commissioner, or within 15 days of mailing of the written decision if the order was not orally given at the time of the hearing. Findings and orders entered by the Family Court Commissioner by stipulation or entered by default are not subject to de novo review.

    Notices requesting a hearing de novo will not stay the order unless the judge specifically grants a stay of the order. Should a party request a hearing de novo, the court will not proceed with any enforcement actions requested by that same party before that hearing, e.g. the court will not grant a bench warrant and commitment order requested by the petitioner, if the petitioner requests a bench warrant based upon a failure of the respondent to comply with the order upon which the petitioner has requested a de novo hearing.

    The family court commissioner shall not hear any motions to modify an order or temporary order if the matter is pending a de novo hearing or if the divorce trial has been held and the court has taken the matter under advisement. The order in existence will remain in effect until the court renders its decision.

  6. Drafting Order

    The moving party shall draft the order at the conclusion of the hearing unless directed otherwise by the commissioner.


403: Financial Disclosure Statement; Failure to File Timely

  1. A financial disclosure statement and verification of income for 3 months prior to the hearing date must be filed by both parties before or at the time of any hearing concerning child support, maintenance, property division or any other financial matter, including but not limited to temporary order hearings, contempt hearings, final divorce hearings and hearings on motions to modify financial matters. A copy must be provided to the other party and to Dane County Child Support Agency if it appears.

  2. An updated financial disclosure statement shall be filed at the final hearing, or at such time as ordered by the trial court. Failure by either party to timely file a complete disclosure statement as required shall authorize the judge to accept the statement of the other party as accurate.


404: Arrearages

  1. Unless otherwise ordered, all arrearages in temporary maintenance and support shall be carried forward as an arrearage in the judgment, or until further order of the court.

  2. Except as otherwise ordered, dismissal of a family action upon stipulation of the parties or for failure to prosecute will result in expungement of all arrearages except those owed to the state.


405: Findings, Conclusions and Judgment

  1. Final Papers Shall Include

    Within 30 days of the final hearing, the petitioner or petitioner's counsel shall file an original and three copies of the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment. Copies shall be sent to opposing counsel and unrepresented parties, if any.

    The findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment shall include the last known address and earnings of each party. When real estate is involved, the legal description shall be required. If a marital settlement agreement is incorporated into the judgment, a copy of the marital settlement agreement shall be attached to all copies of the judgment.

    If no objection is received by the court within 5 working days, or such period as established by the court, any objection is deemed waived.

    The judge who entered the divorce decree will sign the original, and the branch staff will conform the copies and mail one to each party and to the Dane County Child Support Agency, if there is a support order in effect.

  2. Failure to File Timely

    In the event the findings, conclusions and judgment are not filed within 30 days required under Wis. Stat. Sec. 767.251(2), the judge may initiate an order to show cause for contempt against the attorney/party responsible for preparing and filing said documents and the judge will impose sanctions.

  3. Money Judgments in Family Cases

    When a money judgment is granted in a family case, whether in favor of a party to the action or an attorney, a separate money judgment shall be provided for the judge’s signature. The money judgment shall specify the dollar amount of the judgment and the name and place of residence of each party to the action and any non-party in whose favor judgment is granted. The money judgment should be presented for signature, with requisite copies, in the same manner as other family court judgments, and will be docketed if the requisite fee is paid to the clerk of courts.


406: Ex Parte Orders

An ex parte order awarding custody of children to a party in a family court action will not be signed without a verified petition or affidavit stating substantial reasons why it is in the best interests of said children for the order to be signed, unless otherwise ordered by the court.


407: Family Court Counseling Service (FCCS)

  1. Parent Education

    When Parent Education is ordered both parents must attend. If litigants have previously attended Parent Education, the requirement may be waived by FCCS, the judge or the commissioner. Parent Education may be completed at another agency if approved in advance by the court. Parent Education must be completed within 30 days of the court’s referral.

  2. Mandatory Mediation

    Court ordered referrals for mediation are made by a judge or commissioner and may be based on a motion, petition or letter. When mediation is ordered, both parents must participate. Waiver of mediation pursuant to statutory criteria may be requested from the referring judge or commissioner. There is no cost for the first session of mediation, but the parties will be required to pay a fee for subsequent sessions or for mediation on a subsequent referral. Parties may also arrange for private mediation from a third party provider as permitted by statute. Mediation must be completed within 45 days of the court’s referral.

  3. Mediation Agreement

    If the parties reach an agreement in mediation through the Dane County Family Court Counseling Service, the counselor with whom the mediation occurred shall circulate a letter to the parents summarizing the terms of the agreement. The letter providing the terms shall be provided to the assigned judge 10 days after it is provided to the parties, and shall be kept, sealed in the court file for 30 days. When all parties to the action are pro se, and the court approves, the court shall enter an order incorporating the terms of the agreement if no party expresses an objection within 30 days.

    Attorneys, counselors and guardians ad litem must comply with the provisions of Wis. Stat. section 767.405 in certifying the agreement. If an objection is received or an attorney of record has not complied with the certification requirement, the court shall schedule the matter for a status conference as soon as time is available, but no later than 30 days after the objection is received or the non-compliance of counsel. If no objection is received and all attorneys have certified the agreement, subject to Wis. Stat. section 767.405, the court shall enter an order incorporating the terms of the agreement.

  4. Legal Custody and Placement Study

    Court ordered referrals for a Legal Custody and Physical Placement Study pursuant to Wis. Stat. Sec. 767.405(14) are made by a judge or commissioner only after a motion or petition is filed. Divorce or paternity judgments providing automatic access to FCCS shall not replace this requirement. The following matters will not be referred to FCCS: guardianship disputes, contempt and enforcement issues, monitoring of court orders, disputes on transportation, time and place of transitions, minimal changes in schedules, vacation and holiday schedules, choice of schools, and extracurricular activities, cases where the parents continue to reside in the same residence, and cases where parties have jointly retained a private practitioner to do a study concerning the pending motion or petition. Situations where both parents live outside Dane County will be closely evaluated by the judge or commissioner to determine if it is appropriate for FCCS to be involved prior to ordering a study.

    Counselors shall complete their evaluation and make written recommendations within 90 days of the court’s order for study, (or within 135 days if the initiating referral order was for “mediation and a study if mediation fails”) unless an extension is obtained from the assigned judge. In cases where domestic violence issues are present, the written recommendations due date shall be extended an additional 30 days. The recommendations should be in letter format using statutory criteria as a guideline and should explain the reasons for the recommendation. The counselor will not be expected to prepare any further report or update recommendations except when directed to do so by the assigned judge upon good cause shown.

    Inquiries and comments between counselors and judges/commissioners about the merits of a case shall be in writing and copied to all interested parties. Parties, attorneys, guardians ad litem and counselors may communicate with each other for the purpose of exchanging information and explaining their respective positions on the issues involved in a particular case. All written materials sent by parties, attorneys or guardians ad litem to a counselor should be copied by the sender to all other parties, attorneys and the guardian ad litem, except drafts of any joint recommendations sent between a counselor and guardian ad litem need not be copied to others. Other information received by the counselor should be noted and available for inspection in the file. Communication between counselors and outside evaluators should be in writing with copies to all parties or orally with all parties and counsel present.

    Judges should hold a pretrial conference at least 100 days (or 145 days if the initiating referral order was for “mediation and a study if mediation fails”) after the court order for study is entered. A trial should be scheduled so that it is held within 60 days of the written recommendations due date.

  5. FCCS Records and Dissemination

    At any stage or the case and upon reasonable notice, parties and attorneys shall have reasonable access to all the contents of a counselor’s file, including letters, reports, evaluations, pictures and notes, but not to records of mediation. If a counselor, party, attorney or anyone involved in the case believes that something should be sealed and not disclosed, a request to do so should be made to the assigned judge. The judge will promptly decide the request.

    Copies of materials from FCC’s files will be given to parties, counsel for parties, and to the guardian ad litem if requested. Additional copies may be released only upon specific order of the court. Additional working copies may be made by the above named recipients, but are not to be removed from their presence under penalty of contempt of court. Copies of materials obtained from FCCS shall contain a signed copy of the Family Court Counseling Service dissemination agreement.

    Every recipient of materials from the file must sign a FCCS Dissemination Agreement, violation of which is punishable by contempt.

  6. FCCS Fees

    The responsibility for fees shall be set by FCCS according to the fee schedule established by Dane County ordinance. Parties must pay fees or obtain a fee waiver within the time period set by FCCS. Any party may seek a review of the FCCS fee determination by making a written request to the Family Court Commissioner within 15 days of being notified of their responsibility for payment. Failure to pay a required fee may result in a contempt proceeding before the commissioner.

    Failure of the moving party to attend parent education or mediation, to pay applicable fees, or to comply with the directives of FCCS or the court during the course of a study may result in the petition or motion being dismissed by the assigned judge. Failure of the nonmoving party to attend parent education or mediation or to comply with the directives of FCCS or the court during the course of the study will not delay the initiation or completion of a study by FCCS but may result in contempt proceedings before the commissioner or assigned judge.


408: Abuse, and Harassment Temporary Restraining Orders

Harassment, Domestic Abuse, Child Abuse and Individuals at Risk restraining order petitions shall be filed in the RecordsCenter, Room 1002

Child Abuse and Harassment cases involving juvenile respondents will be assigned a juvenile (JI) number; all other restraining order cases will be assigned a civil (CV) number.


409: Guardians ad Litem: Appointment and Payment

  1. The court will determine whether a guardian ad litem (GAL) should be appointed, sua sponte or upon the request of either party or family court counselor. The court will consider whether to appoint a particular GAL suggested jointly by the parties/counsel or suggested by the family court counselor.

  2. If a party requests the appointment of a GAL, that request will be accompanied by a recently completed financial disclosure statement (FDS), along with a form order for the court’s signature. This order will require the other party, within 10 days from the date of the order to: a) advise the court as to any objection to the appointment of a GAL, and b) file a recently completed FDS. Failure to timely file a FDS may be deemed an admission of ability to pay. Unless the court finds there is an emergency need for a GAL, the court shall require the payment of a deposit or the posting of security for GAL fees or other payment arrangements.

  3. The court shall make an initial determination of each party's ability to pay GAL fees. If both parties are found indigent, the county shall pay the GAL fees. If both parties are not found indigent, the court shall determine how the parties shall pay the GAL fees. The order appointing the GAL shall include the hourly rate of the GAL, and it should set a monthly payment due from each party once the initial deposit has been utilized.

  4. The GAL shall provide monthly bills to the parties or counsel in private pay cases if the bill exceeds $300. In private pay cases, the bill shall show each party’s escrow balance. All bills shall itemize the actual hours expended and fees incurred. In private pay cases and court appointed cases, the GAL shall notify the court when the unpaid balance exceeds $1000. The court may set a status conference to address the unpaid balance. In county pay cases, the GAL shall notify the court and the parties with information about the hours expended and the fees incurred and shall submit bills to the clerk of court at a frequency requested by the clerk of courts.

    At any time during the pendency of the case, the GAL may notice the parties and counsel of a proposed disbursement of a specific amount of the funds from the trust account, together with a notice of the right to object within ten (10) days. If no written objection is received by the GAL, the GAL may disburse the funds as proposed from the trust account. If either party does object, the objecting party shall notify the court, with a copy to the GAL, in writing within ten (10) days of the notice. A hearing will be scheduled before the court. The notice of the proposed disbursement of funds shall include a copy of paragraph 5 of this rule. Any objection must be filed with the court within ten (10) days of receipt of the bill. The objection must be itemized, corresponding to the itemization in the billing statement, and it must state specific reasons for each objection. Upon receipt of an objection, the court may set the matter for hearing or may defer addressing the issue to the next scheduled proceeding.

  5. At the conclusion of the action, and prior to the discharge of the GAL, if requested the court shall review the financial account of the GAL billings and receipts. The court shall make a final determination of what portion of GAL fees and costs shall be paid by each party or the county.

    No final judgment will be granted by the court without a provision regarding payment of the GAL fees and costs, including date certain for payment of remaining fees. Any final stipulation submitted by the parties for approval of the court shall contain a provision regarding payment of remaining GAL fees.


410: Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Two (2) original orders shall be prepared for the judge's signature; one to be retained by the court for the case file and one for the carrier of the funds.


411: Appointment of Guardian ad Litem in Cases Using Binding Arbitration

The court shall appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in all cases in which parties agree to resolve the issues of custody and physical placement and/or visitation rights under Wis. Stat. section 767.43 through binding arbitration. The GAL must be appointed before any of the arbitration procedures on these issues begin. Additionally, the parties must provide the court with a certified written custody/physical placement study as stated in Wis. Stat. Section 767.405(14).


412: Order of Appearance in Family Cases

In divorce cases where a signed, stipulated marital settlement agreement has been submitted to the court, it is deemed good cause to not require the procurement and service of an order of appearance on the non-moving party unless specifically ordered by the court in an individual case.


413: Support Orders and Judgments

All orders which contain a provision for support, family support, or maintenance, shall contain the following:

  • the address of both parties, and the KIDS PIN number, if known;

  • the name, address, and phone numbers of the employers of the parties;

  • the name and birth date of any minor children;

  • the language required by Wisconsin Statute sections, including 767.225, 767.511, 767.58, 767.75, 767.57;

  • the commencement date for the support payments.


Rules for Probate Court

501: Subject Matter

Probate court matters shall include all probate actions under Wis. Stats. Chapter 851 through 879, testamentary trust actions under Chapter 701, guardianship actions under Chapter 54, protective placements under Chapter 55, Juvenile guardianships under Chapter 48, involuntary civil mental and alcoholic commitments, and adoption cases. All documents pertaining to these matters shall be filed in the office of the register in probate.


502: Judicial Assignments and Scheduling

All judges will be assigned contested probate, trust and guardianship matters according to the proportions of the civil/family draw. Once a judge hears a contested matter in a case, all further contested matters will be assigned to the same judge. If a judge is substituted, the original judge's tab will be returned to the draw for another case.

All juvenile guardianships of the person cases shall be drawn to the judges in the juvenile division. Hearings shall be conducted by court commissioners if the case is uncontested. If contested, the case shall be forwarded to the judge drawn on the case.

All contested trust and estate actions shall be scheduled for a settlement conference before a probate court commissioner. If no settlement is reached, the action shall be assigned to a judge.

In contested guardianships, if the matter is an emergency and the assigned judge is not available, the case shall be referred to the duty judge, who may request a reserve judge to be assigned.


503: Proceedings Before Probate Court Commissioner

The probate court commissioners, in addition to conducting settlement conferences on all contested matters, shall conduct such hearings as determined by the individual judge responsible for the probate calendar.


504: Documents Relating to Scheduled Hearings

All documents related to a contested case shall be filed at the register in probate office, docketed promptly and promptly forwarded to the assigned judge’s office.


505: Closing Estates

Receipts or other evidence of transfer shall be filed within 120 days after entry of Final Judgment pursuant to section 863.41 Wis. Stats. (Receipts to be filed).

Receipts or other evidence of transfer in informal proceedings shall be filed at or before the time of the personal representative's statement to close the file.


506: Claims Filed

The office of the register in probate shall return a claim filed when there is no pending probate file. In all cases when a probate matter is pending, a claim shall be accepted for filing regardless of the timeliness, form, or nature of the claim.


507: Mental and Alcoholic Commitment

Demands for jury trial shall be in writing, unless otherwise authorized by a judge.

After the court commissioner makes a finding of probable cause, the probate court will appoint two examiners the morning following the probable cause hearing. Pursuant to section 51.20(9)(a) Wis. Stats. (Involuntary commitment for treatment, Examination), the subject or the subject's attorney may select one of the examiners if the selection is made known to the probate court (608-266-4332) within 24 hours after completion of the probable cause hearing. The court will appoint the selected examiner if the subject or the subject's attorney certifies to the court that he or she has personally spoken to the proposed examiner and that all of the following have been verified:

  • The examiner has specialized knowledge appropriate to the needs of the subject;

  • The examiner will be available to perform a personal examination of the subject;

  • The examiner agrees to perform the examination at a rate of not to exceed that established by the county for other evaluations in Ch 51/55 proceedings;

  • The examiner will file a written report with the court at least 48 hours in advance of the final hearing; and,

  • The examiner will be available for testimony at the final hearing, either in person or by telephone.

The subject or the subject's attorney also has a right to secure an additional (third) medical or psychological examination to be paid for by the subject, or if indigent and with approval of the court, at reasonable expenses to the individual's county of legal residence.

A person appointed by the state public defender's office to represent the subject of a commitment action shall immediately notify the staff of the register in probate's office of such appointment.

Probate court commissioners are designated as Mental Health Review Officers, pursuant to section 51.14(12) Wis. Stats. (Outpatient treatment of minors).


508: Time for Inventory

The inventory in any estate shall be filed or exhibited to the probate registrar within 6 months of the issuance of domiciliary letters, unless the time is extended by order.


509: Time to Close Estates

Whether filed under formal or informal administration, an estate proceeding shall be closed by the entry of a judgment under section 863.27 Wis. Stats. (Contents of final judgment) or the filing of a verified statement under section 865.16 Wis. Stats. (Self-proved will), within 12 months of the issuance of domiciliary letters, unless the estate remains open pursuant to an order extending time. In any estate not closed in the time provided by this rule, the probate court commissioner or probate registrar shall order the personal representative, and any attorney for the estate, to show cause why the estate has not been closed and shall proceed as provided by law.

This rule shall be effective for all estates where domiciliary letters are issued after 2-1-05 and for all pending estates after 8-1-05.


510: Hearings on Admissions in Juvenile Mental Cases

In judicial review proceedings for the admission of a minor to an impatient facility for treatment of mental illness, developmental disability or alcohol or drug abuse, the petitioning facility must be represented by counsel at any hearing scheduled pursuant to Wis. Stats. Sec 51.13 (4)(d).


Rules for Juvenile Court

601: Adoption of Policy Manual

The Circuit Court adopts the Dane County Juvenile Court Policies and Procedures Manual with the full force of circuit court rules.

A current copy of the entire Policy Manual of the Dane County Juvenile Court will be maintained in the clerk of courts office, in the juvenile court office, and in the office of each current juvenile judge. The Manual shall be reviewed, updated, and approved by the Dane County Circuit Court Judges at least every two years, no later than March 1 of the year following rotation. Amendments, changes and deletions in the interim shall be approved by a majority of the current juvenile judges and the chief judge.