Different courts are authorized to hear different types of cases and have different structures. Wisconsin has four levels of courts: the supreme court, court of appeals, circuit courts and municipal courts. Check out the slideshow below to learn more about these courts and the types of cases they hear.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court – the Justices hear four type of cases

  1. Request- by a losing party in the Court of Appeals.
  2. Direct review –  the Supreme Court can decide on its own to review a Circuit Court case, thereby passing the Court of Appeals.
  3. Certification – the Court of Appeals requests the Supreme Court to review a case because they believe it is a question of law, not a question of error.
  4. Original action (jurisdiction) –the Supreme Court can accept a case without it first being tried in circuit court. Though, there must not be factual issues in dispute.
graphic explaining original action and how cases can bypass the Court of appeals

Judicial Elections

a voter and election worker at a check-in table

In Wisconsin, judges are elected. This means voters decide who serves on our courts. (In rare instances of vacancies, the governor can appoint a judge until the end of their term).

These are nonpartisan elections, which means candidates are not affiliated with any political party such as the Democratic Party or Republican Party.

Justices are expected to be independent of political parties, and make their judgements based on the law. In other words, judges should be impartial.

Supreme CourtCourt of AppealsCircuit CourtsMunicipal Courts
10-year terms6-year terms6-year terms4-year terms
Term lengths for WI judges