MUNICIPAL COURT GUIDELINES
As in any other court of law, there are rules of conduct by which every person appearing or attending must abide by. These rules of conduct are set out for the civility of the court process, and so that persons in attendance are given a fair atmosphere in which to present their case. All persons in attendance should present themselves in a decent matter, and shall be civil at all times.
* NO WEAPONS ARE ALLOWED IN THE COURTROOM
* NO SMOKING IN THE COURTROOM
* NO OBSCENE OR VULGAR LANGUAGE IN THE COURTROOM
* ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES SHOULD BE OFF
Pro Se parties (individuals representing themselves without an attorney) should be prepared to present their cases in a proper manner. It is not the court's duty or responsibility to protect or represent you, or instruct you on court procedure, evidence, rules, or how to present and prove your case. If you are unprepared, unaware, and not knowledgeable as to presenting your case, you may lose your case.
- Be on time. When you come into the courtroom, sign your name on the sign up sheet.
- Come prepared to ask questions of witnesses, not the judge.
- You will be allowed to give testimony from the stand, not from the defense table.
- Do not argue with the court.
- Address the court as "judge" or "your honor".
- Address opposing parties, counsel, witnesses, and officers as "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Miss" and "Officer", etc. Do not use first names, except when it relates to children.
- Do not read newspapers, magazines, books, etc. in the courtroom during proceedings.
- Do not talk at the same time as the judge, counsels, witnesses or other court personnel.
- Racist, sexist, obscene or profance language or gestures are prohibited unless it is pertinent to a case and is elicited and quoted from facts of the case.
- Do not enter and depart from the courtroom excessively.
- Do not disturb or distract the court, counsels, witnesses and other court personnel. Children must not create a disturbance or be kept out of the courtroom.
- Do not approach the Judge's bench or Clerk's desk without permission. Do not rest arms or hands on the bench.
- Leave all purses, brief cases, etc. at the defense table when you are called to the Judge's or Clerk's desk.
- Have all paperwork, driver's license, evidence, etc. ready when called to approach the Judge's bench.
- Rise when the judge enters and remain standing until the Judge announces "be seated".
- No food or drinks are allowed in the courtroom.
The court date assigned to your case should be specified on the top or left side of the citation, and if your attendance is mandatory or not.
When you arrive - When you arrive at court, you should put your name on the sign-up sheet, as this will allow the court clerk to know if you are there to appear for your case and it should be called. Then have a seat and wait for your case to be called.
When your case is called - When your name and case are called, have a seat at the defendant's table. The court or a representative of the prosecuting agency will give a short synopsis of the incident for which you are charged. The court will then ask you for a plea on the charges; of either guilty, not guilty or no-contest.
If you plead not guilty - When you plead not guilty a pre-trial conference will be scheduled in the future. A pre-trial conference is where you as the defendant sit down with the Judge, the prosecuting attorney and your attorney if you have one and discuss the matter with each other to see if the matter can be resolved. If the matter cannot be resolved, then a court trial by judge will be scheduled.
If you plead guilty or no-contest - When you plead guilty you are telling the court that you admit to guilt on the charge(s) and if you plead no-contest it means you are saying you are not guilty but you know that there is enough evidence to convict you. The judge will then find you guilty on the charge(s) and will impose a forfeiture and/or other court ordered programs, etc.
Failure to appear - If you fail to appear on a non-mandatory appearance charge, the court will find you guilty by default and you will be required to pay the forfeiture in full. If you fail to appear on a charge which your appearance is mandatory without proper notice to the court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Failure to pay fines - If you were ordered to pay a fine/forfeiture by the Judge, and you fail to do so or fail to comply with the proper payment plan, your license will be suspended and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
1. Can I get a copy of my police report? - Yes. However, copies of police reports are handled through an open records request or discovery motion. You must first enter an official plea and all record requests are obtained through the Police Department.
2. Can I speak with the judge prior to the hearing? - No. Discussion between a judge and only one party to an action on an upcoming matter is called ex-parte communication. This type of communication may result in an unfair finding. Ex-parte communication is illegal and is strictly prohibited.
3. How do I determine what my driving status is? - You need to contact the Department of Transportation at (800) 924-3570 or go online at Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
4. What if my Driver's License is suspended, how do I get it back? - First, you have to pay all past due fines and forfeitures. Then you must go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and pay $60.00 to reinstate your operating privileges.
5. What happens if I don't appear at a hearing or trial? - When a defendant does not appear at a scheduled court appearance, the defendant is in default. A judgment against that defendant is then entered.
6. What happens if I don't pay my forfeiture? - The Court may send you to jail if you do not pay your forfeiture and court costs. The Court may also suspend your driving privileges for failure to pay. The court may collect the forfeiture by intercepting your state tax return.