udge John J. DiMotto, MilwaukeeCounty Circuit Court, has been named“Trial Judge of the Year”by the WisconsinChapter of the American Board of TrialAdvocates (ABOTA).ABOTA is a national organization of civil trial attorneys whose membershipis split equally between lawyers whorepresent plaintiffs and lawyers who repre-sent defendants.The award is presented each year to amember ofthe Wisconsin judiciary“whose thorough preparation,breadth of knowledge of the law, decisive rulings and courtesy tolitigants,jurors and members ofthe bar have consistently advancedthe interest ofjustice and the dignity ofthe judicial process,”accord-ing to James M.Fergal,chairman of the selection committee.DiMotto received the award at the summer meeting of theState Bar of Wisconsin. He selected Supreme Court Rule 62:
TheStandards ofCourtesy and Decorum
as the topic ofhisremarks.Winners of the award in past years are:Judges P.Charles Jones,James C. Eaton, Allan J. Deehr, N. Patrick Crooks, Robert W.Landry,Susan Steingass,George A.Burns,Jr.and James P.Fiedler.Of these past winners, Crooks, Eaton and Jones are stillactive judges.
DiMotto Named Trial Judge of the Year
udges in Racine hosted county boardsupervisors this summer as part of theJudicial Ride-Along Program.The program was begun in 1993 withjudges and legislators to improve the courts’relationship with the state Legislature.Theidea—originated in Minnesota—was tohave judges host their local legislators for aday on the bench to give a new perspectiveon the issues facing the courts.The Judicial Ride-Along Program was sosuccessful in Wisconsin that it was expandedto include county board supervisors severalyears ago. District court administrators,with help from the Director ofState CourtsOffice,match the judges with local supervi-sors, publicize the meetings with pressreleases and follow up with questionnaires.Judges Charles H. Constantine, DennisJ. Flynn, Richard J. Kreul, Wayne J. Marik,Emily S. Mueller, Gerald P. Ptacek, Allan“Pat” Torhorst and Emmanuel J.Vuvunas,and Family Court Commissioner KevinVanKampen,all participated.Ptacek, who handled a variety of felonyproceedings including a change of plea,anarraignment and a sentencing while thesupervisor sat next to him at the bench,called the experience “invaluable” andencouraged colleagues to take part.Kreul wrote that the program “hassubstantial value” and said the supervisorwho sat with him through a calendar of more than 60 trafficand misdemeanorcases “didn’t realizehow hard judgesworked or theirresponsibilities.”Sup. Russell A.Clark wrote thatTorhorst preparedhim well for his dayon the bench.“Before the firstcase the Judge explained to me how hiscourt worked, and also gave a brief sum-mary ofhow all the Judges and courts work.I was amazed with his professionalism inconducting his court.He was very down toearth,knowledgeable,and patient to all whocame in front of him in his court.”The supervisor wrote that the programshould be mandatory for all who sit on thecounty board. “It enables a person likemyselfto have a more rounded perspectiveof the problems that exist in our commu-nity and how we deal with them.That kindof insight is invaluable,”he wrote.The Judicial Ride-Along Program willcommence again in late fall. Invitationswill go out to all new legislators afterthe election.
For more information,call Amanda K.Todd at (608) 264-6256.
Racine County Ride-AlongCalled ‘Invaluable’
Judge John J.DiMotto
The Third Branch
Director of State Courts
Amanda K. Todd
Karen Leone de Nie
Sam Shelton,Randy Sprouleand Jian Zhou
Vernon County Circuit Court
District X Court Administrator
District V Court Administrator
Iowa County Clerk of Circuit Court
The Third Branch
is a quarterly publica-tion of the Director of State CourtsOffice, providing news of interest to theWisconsin Judiciary.Send questions andcomments to: Amanda K. Todd, CourtInformation Officer, P.O. Box 1688,Madison, WI 53701-1688. Phone (608)264-6256. E-mail: email@example.com