State recommends additional judge for Marathon County

Published: Oct. 11, 2017 at 6:54 PM CDT
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Marathon County is one step closer to getting a new judge. According to the state judicial workload study, the county has the fourth highest need for one in the state.

The caseload goes beyond the number of staff members at the courthouse.

As 7 Investigates reported in July, based off of workload analysis, bout six state-funded prosecutors and nearly three judges more are needed.

"We have five right now for a population of 135,00 or so people, so a sixth judge will allow us to get more cases processed quicker," Judge Greg Huber told NewsChannel 7.

The state has recommended adding a sixth judge and a court reporter, but it needs the county to first commit to providing a court clerk, judicial assistant, and courtroom. The county public safety committee will be recommending the county board do so, and if the county approves it, the state will write a bill to fund the two positions. If that bill is written and passes this year, an election in April of 2019 would decide who the new judge would be, with the new justice starting the following August.

"We would love to get a couple extra judges, but we would be happy to get another judge on board," Huber said.

He added all branches of the judicial process feel the strain of the current caseload.

"We want to treat each case individually and when they're stacked, it's a lot of pressure to just want to get the cases through," he explained, "but for people appearing in front of you, this is a very important case and we need to treat it as such."

Huber said time is their greatest resource. So, adding one more judge would reduce some of the wait for those going through the court system.

Courthouse staff are looking for solutions to help other understaffed departments with an increase in case should a new judge be hired.

In addition to a possible new judge, the proposed county budget also includes adding a new IT specialist to the district attorney's office, which would help prosecutors manage the ever increasing technological evidence coming in, including videos and cell phone data.