By Gretchen Schuldt
COVID cut an uneven path across state courts in five mid-size counties last year.
Douglas County's criminal case backlog actually shrank by 17% from December 2019 to December 2020, while Shawano County's, highest among the five counties to begin with, grew by 46%, tops among the five. The number of pending criminal cases in Shawano County in December 2020 was more than three times the number in any of the other four – Douglas, Pierce, Marinette, and Oconto counties.
WJI examined the numbers of pending cases in the state's five largest counties here and the five smallest counties here. This post, using Wisconsin Court System statistics from December 2019 and 2020, looks at pending cases in mid-sized smallest counties, as measured by population.
Douglas County population: 44,295
Biggest change: The number of pending misdemeanor cases dropped by 74, or 37%.
Of note: Pending cases fell in every category from 2019 to 2020, for a total decline of 95, or 17%.
Median age of pending cases: 2019 – 108 days; 2020 – 104 days, down 4%.
Pierce County population: 42,212
Biggest change: The median age of pending criminal cases shot up by 41 days, or 26%.
Of note: Pending felony cases were up by 19, making up almost half of the total increase of 39.
Median age of pending cases: 2019 – 156 days; 2020 – 197 days, up 26%.
Marinette County population: 41,872
Biggest change: The number of pending felony cases rose by 80, or 48%.
Of note: The number of pending criminal traffic cases fell by 20, while the number of other misdemeanors rose by 22.
Median age of pending cases: 2019 – 86 days; 2020 – 153 days, up 66%.
Shawano County population: 40,881
Biggest change: The number of pending felony cases rose by 263 cases, or 51%.
Of note: Shawano County's pending case numbers were far greater in both years than those in any other of the five mid-sized counties. In 2019, Shawano had 958 total pending criminal cases in December. Douglas County was next, with 556 pending cases. Those two counties were numbers one and two, respectively, again in 2020. Shawano County had 1,402 pending cases; Douglas County had 461.
Median age of pending cases: 2019 – 177 days; 2020 – 230 days, up 30%.
Oconto County population: 38,965
Biggest change: The number of pending felony cases rose by 71, or 46%.
Of note: The number of pending criminal traffic cases dropped by 13, while other pending misdemeanors rose by 23.
Median age of pending cases: 2019 – 107 days; 2020 – 141 days, up 32%.
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