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St. Croix judges report to County Board

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Journal
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River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

St. Croix County Circuit Court judges Scott Needham, Eric Lundell, Edward Vlack and Howard Cameron and Court Commissioner Steve Dunlap presented the annual state of the courts report to the board of supervisors Tuesday morning.

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Needham said that the current caseloads in the county are consistent with 4.4 judges. In 1994 when a third judge was added, the judicial need was less than 3.0.

He said the county will be in need of a fifth judge in the future that will require extra room and there are security needs, primarily for family and small claims courts, due to the current construction of the government center.

Cameron overseas the new foreclosure mediation program that was established in July. He said most or the attorneys who handle foreclosures in St. Croix County are not local.

"A majority of them come from Wausau and Milwaukee," he said.

"We are trying to eliminate the disconnect," said Cameron and told of an incident where people who tried to get in touch with the lending institutions were given the runaround.

"It's a big issue; people feel so helpless. Nobody knows who owns the loans," Cameron said. "These are not deadbeats, but good people in unfortunate circumstances due to things beyond their control."

Clerk of Court Lori Meyer reported that foreclosures were down slightly compared to the same period last year. On Sept. 1, 2010, there were 463 and this year 421 had been filed.

Dunlap said over his 10 years as a court commissioner, the hearings have increase.

"This past August was the worst as far as parents not knowing or not agreeing where their kids are going to school," he said.

Dunlap said as the population increases, the number of family cases increase.

"Divorces are down because marriages are down," he said, but the fact isn't reducing family court traffic.

"People are having children and not getting married," he said.

Supervisor Steve Hermsen asked if there was anything the board could do that would lighten the caseload. He said the board could, "...pass a resolution that people can't have children unless they are married."

Vlack responded that, "...anything short of putting something in the water," would lighten the caseload.

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