"Where are trials held?"
Trials are held in the Middleton Municipal Courtroom located at 7341 Donna Drive, Middleton, WI 53562. The Honorable Ben Schulenburg presides over all trials.
"What happens prior to the trial?"
You will receive a written notice of your trial with a scheduled date and time to appear before the judge to present your case.
You may represent yourself or have an attorney appear with you and present your case. If you hire an attorney, you must pay for the attorney yourself. The court will not appoint an attorney for you.
You can testify, and you can present other witnesses. If you need assistance in issuing a subpoena to compel a witness to appear at the trial, you should call the court office at (608) 824-7370 to obtain a subpoena form. You will have to personally serve the subpoenas on the witnesses. Please allow at least two (2) weeks before the trial to allow time to obtain and serve the subpoenas. There is no charge for obtaining subpoenas; however, you may be required to pay witness fees plus their mileage.
If you plan to present documents as part of the presentation of your case, please bring two (2) copies: one for the city prosecutor and one for the court.
"What happens at the trial?"
The city prosecutor, who represents the City of Middleton, will present its case first. The city must try to prove you are guilty of violating the ordinance indicated on the citation issued to you. The burden of proof that the city must meet is called clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence.
You have the opportunity to question all witnesses you call during the presentation of your case, which is called direct examination. Also, you can question all witnesses that the city presents as part of its case. That is called cross-examination. Closing arguments are permitted as well.
Typically, the judge will render a decision the same night that the trial is held. Occasionally, the judge will take the case under advisement and issue a written decision within 30 days of the trial date.
If the judge determines the city failed to meet its burden of proof, the case will be dismissed. If the judge determines the city satisfied its burden of proof, you will be found guilty, and the judge will impose a sentence. Typically, the sentence will include a forfeiture of some amount. There may be other components of the sentence depending on the nature of your specific case, including such things as demerit points against your driver's license, suspension of your driver's license or restitution for damage to property.
Please note that the judge will have no information about your case except what is presented at trial. As such, you may want to consider your case prior to the trial date and prepare a list of questions you would like to ask witnesses.
If you are found guilty in Middleton Municipal Court, you can appeal that decision to Dane County Circuit Court within 20 days of the Middleton Municipal Court finding. You must file a notice of appeal with the Middleton Municipal Court and pay the filing fee within the 20 days.
The appeal form can be obtained from the Middleton Municipal Court. On the appeal form, you can request that the Dane County Circuit Court take your appeal in one of three ways:
- You can request that the Dane County Circuit Court review the transcript of the Middleton Municipal Court trial and make a decision based on that review;
- You can request a trial before the Dane County Circuit Court Judge; or,
- You can request a trial by jury in Dane County Circuit Court.
Once an appeal is filed in Dane County Circuit Court, the Middleton Municipal Court judgment and sentence are stayed, or stopped. No action is taken to enforce the judgement and sentence pending the appeal.