The reputation of one Kenosha County circuit judge is apparently so daunting that hundreds of defendants request a different judge, creating imbalances in the workloads of different felony courts.
Judge Bruce E. Schroeder says he isn't sure why as many as 250 people since August have requested that someone other than he hear their cases.
Under state law, a person charged with a crime has the right to ask once for a different judge.
"It almost becomes irrational. I've had people file on me who had a traffic ticket for bald tires," Schroeder said.
Schroeder is known for his occasional fiery style, sharp tongue and stiff sentences.
He can also be unpredictable, says defense attorney Michael Cicchini. "From a defense standpoint, clients like somewhat more certainty," Cicchini said.
Many of the cases transferred out of Schroeder's courtroom land in the court of the Judge Wilbur W. Warren III, the county's other felony judge. Warren said Schroeder's reputation for being harsh is more a matter of perception than reality.
"I think Judge Schroeder is sometimes stern in his sentences, but the sentences are no longer on the average, no worse than any other judge," Warren said.