MADISON — Chief Judge Scott R. Needham, St. Croix County Circuit Court, has been selected by fellow chief judges from across the state to chair the Committee of Chief Judges, effective Aug. 1.
Needham replaces outgoing committee chair Judge Donald R. Zuidmulder, Brown County Circuit Court. Zuidmulder served the maximum three two-year terms as a chief judge, an administrative position appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court for each of the state’s 10 judicial administrative districts.
Needham was elected to the St. Croix County bench in 1994 and re-elected three times to six-year terms. He is in his third term as chief judge of the Tenth Judicial Administrative District, which encompasses the northwestern part of the state, including Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer and Washburn counties.
“This is a highly knowledgeable group of chief judges, and it is an honor to be selected to work with other chief judges on improving the administration of justice in the circuit courts. As a committee, we look forward to addressing the challenges that face the courts and seizing the opportunities that exist to improve and enhance the judicial system,” Needham said.
Working with the district court administrator, the chief judge is responsible for the administration of judicial business in circuit and municipal courts within the district.
Before his election to the bench, Needham worked as an attorney in private practice from 1978 to 1994. In 2010, he was chosen Judge of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates.
Zuidmulder continues as a judge on the Brown County Circuit Court bench, where he has served since 1997. He has been chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Administrative District since 2010. The Eighth District encompasses Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie and Waupaca counties. Before joining the bench, Zuidmulder served 22 years in private practice. He previously served as Brown County district attorney and as an assistant state attorney general.
The Committee of Chief Judges consists of one chief judge from each of the state’s 10 judicial administrative districts. The committee chair, informally known as “the chief of the chiefs,” presides over approximately seven committee meetings per year. As needed, the chief judges convene subcommittees to consider issues and problems facing the trial courts.
Needham also serves on the Supreme Court Finance Committee, Judicial Committee on Child Welfare, and Statewide Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. He previously served on the Criminal Jury Instruction Committee, Judicial Education Committee, and six years as deputy chief judge of the Tenth Judicial Administrative District.
More information about the Committee of Chief Judges, including a list of current chief judges and deputy chief judges, can be found at: http://www.wicourts.gov/courts/committees/chiefjudges.htm.