- Vilas County Judge Neal Nielsen sometimes feels rushed while in the courtroom.
The large number of cases he needs to hear requires the court calendar to keep moving.
That number of cases has steadily increased over the last several years.
That's why Nielsen is pushing for a second judge in Vilas County.
"Judge need" is measured by a statistic called weighted case load.
"(It) ranks us (third) in the entire state for judge need," says Nielsen. "At first blush, you'd look at little Vilas County and say, how is that possible? The answer to that is, there's only one judge."
Other Northwoods counties like Iron, Price, Langlade, and Taylor also only have one judge.
Forest and Florence Counties share a judge.
Most of those counties' caseloads have gradually dropped.
But about 5,200 cases were opened in Vilas County last year, a number that's creeping upward.
"The sense of pressure that sometimes just invades the whole room because of the amount of work everybody knows needs to get done, it's palpable, it's felt in the courtroom," Nielsen says.
That can force court staff a feeling of rushing through their work.
"When you're dealing with a volume that is that high, you can't devote enough time to individual cases or to individual litigants to really do the kind of justice to them that ought to be done," Nielsen says.
The latest "judge need" statistics show only Jackson and Wood Counties have a higher need.
The Vilas County Board would need to agree with Nielsen's request for another judgeship.
Then, the State Legislature could move to grant the new judge through a bill this fall.