1intermediate appellate court. It was founded in 1978. The court is composed of 16 judges from four districts headquartered in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Wausau, and Madison. The judges are elected to six-year terms in district-wide, non-partisan April elections. Vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment and the appointee is required to stand for election to a full six-year term the following spring.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court appoints the chief judge of the Court of Appeals. The chief judge handles administrative matters for the entire Court of Appeals while continuing to participate fully in deciding cases. The chief judge term lasts three years.
Each of the four districts of the Court of Appeals is managed by a presiding judge, appointed by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals. The presiding judges take on these additional duties for two-year terms.
Like most high-volume intermediate appellate courts, the primary function of the Court of Appeals is to correct errors that occurred at the circuit court level. The published opinions of the Court are binding precedent unless overruled by the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has recognized that the Court of Appeals has a "law defining and law development" function.
The Court generally sits in three-judge panels to decide the merits of an appeal. Several categories of cases, however, are decided by a single judge. These include: small claims actions, municipal ordinance violations, traffic regulation violations, mental health, juvenile, contempt and misdemeanor cases.
The Court of Appeals issues a written decision in every case. The Court's publication committee determines which decisions will be published. If a decision is published, it may be cited as precedential authority. No testimony is taken in the Court of Appeals. The Court relies on the circuit court record and the written briefs of the parties. The Court hears oral argument when the judges feel it would be beneficial to their decision.