A circuit court judge is elected by the citizens of the county to preside over legal disputes and cases that are filed in the State circuit courts. Circuit courts have original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters. A judge applies the law to each case to decide its outcome. In Wisconsin, a circuit court judge must have been licensed to practice law in this state for at least five years immediately prior to taking office. Circuit court judges are elected to six-year terms.
Types of cases that a circuit court judge might hear include criminal cases (like OWI and burglary), family law cases (like divorce and child custody), civil cases (like breach of contract and tort claims), and various other type cases. Because Columbia County is a relatively small county, the three judges hear all types of cases and do not separate themselves into specialties.
The most important thing a judge does is to ensure that everyone who comes into court gets a fair trial. Judges do this by enforcing courtroom procedure and taking the time to listen to all sides of the dispute before making a decision.