Friday, December 4, 2009

You Never Know What Each Day Will Bring

By John DiMotto.

When I wake up each morning, I have a fairly good idea as to what I will face in court that day. However, nothing is ever certain and you have to "go with the flow."

Yesterday, when I arrived at the Courthouse around 7:30 am, I expected to finish my jury trial, take care of one morning case, deal with two contempt hearings in the afternoon and conduct a final pretrial for a complex "construction" related case set for a court trial in about 10 days. Little did I know that this would be just the tip of the iceberg.

The jury went fine - the jurors were a terrific, insightful group who, during deliberations, sent out a number of pointed questions. Everyone could tell how close attention they paid and how seriously they took their role. After about five hours they arrived at a verdict.

It was everything else that made the day, shall we say "interesting."

The morning case was a name change. Simple you might think. Think again. The individual seeking the name change is in the middle of a felony prosecution. No direct notice given to the DA. Result, case adjourned.

The two contempt hearings were somewhat protracted. Without getting into details, there are interesting legal issues about the viability of contempt given the 5th Amendment right against incrimination. Result, case adjourned for some briefing and more testimony.

The complex "construction" case pretrial went ok. The trial, on the other hand, will be difficult. Most of the testimony will be from professional engineers and will be super technical. I will have to be "on top of my game" in order to understand the engineering jargon. I am looking forward to the case.

Finally, I am the Duty Judge this week. This means that I do all of the miscellaneous civil matters that don't fall into a particular category. I had to do a "De Novo" hearing (this is a review of another judicial officer's decision) with respect to a Temporary Restraining Order that a woman was seeking against her Probation officer and the officer's supervisor. Not something you see every day.

When the day ended at 5:00 pm, I was ready to go home to be with my wife and recharge my batteries. I did so and woke up this morning ready to face my scheduled calendar and whatever else comes my way.

I do love my job.


  1. Is it true a buzzer goes off when a jury reaches a decision? That was probably quite high-tech when they built the Milwaukee County Courthouse in 1930.