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Aurora

Getting 'Reddy' to be county judge



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August 04, 2010 | 08:37 AM
Elkhorn — David Reddy spent hours on his campaign for Walworth County Judge knocking on doors and shaking hands.

Now that he's elected, the work really begins.

"I'm looking forward to the challenges," Reddy said in a recent interview.

Reddy's investiture as Walworth County's first new judge in 18 years was July 28. He said his first assignment will be misdemeanor traffic court, and his first day on the bench will be Aug. 16. But he'll hardly have time to get his bench warm before he has to attend more training for beginning judges.

Reddy said he had just completed a judge orientation session in Madison. He'll receive mentoring in the Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha county courts later this month, and then the state's week-long judicial college starts Aug. 30.

According to the website wicourts.gov, the Wisconsin Judicial College focuses on the techniques of judging. It is designed as an introduction for newly elected or appointed judges. It's also a refresher for sitting judges, each of whom is required to attend the college at least once every six years.

Once the training is complete and he can settle in as judge, Reddy said, he'll spend a year in traffic and then switch over to family court for two years. That will be a return to his roots of sorts, because Reddy is the former Walworth County Family Court Commissioner and Director of Family Court Counseling Services.

In fact, the county courthouse is familiar ground for Reddy. Before being a family court commissioner, he was an assistant district attorney. Before that, Reddy partnered with attorney Lowell Sweet in an Elkhorn-based law firm, which focused on civil law and probate. Sweet was one of the speakers at Reddy's investiture. The law firm's name of Sweet & Reddy raised a few eyebrows and sparked a few smiles around the county.

"That name was the topic of some humor," Reddy conceded.

Judges aren't generally known for dipping into public policy, but Reddy has said he would support creation of a drug court and an alcohol treatment court. He said the proposals were discussed at judges meetings. Walworth County already has a special court for those arrested for drunken driving.

Called Commitment Accountability Treatment Evaluation, or CATE, the program aims to eliminate repeat offenses by those found guilty of Operating While Intoxicated. The program focuses on those convicted three times or more for drunken driving.

Those in the CATE program take part in an anti-alcohol abuse treatment program. The program offers reduced jail time and fines for those OWI offenders who successfully complete the program. Those who don't abide by the program rules can find themselves back in jail completing their sentences.

Reddy said that right now there's more need for an alcohol court than a drug CATE could be the launching point for an alcohol treatment court, that would deal with all persons whose drinking problems get them in trouble with the law.

A drug court might grow out of that. Reddy said the special courts are what the counties make of them. Rock County has a Veterans Court to deal with veterans' issues, Reddy said.

Federal grants could help with start up costs.

With the Walworth County Jail now facing issues with crowding, these special courts and programs could be used to divert nonviolent offenders from jail, reducing crowding and saving the county money, Reddy said.

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