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KCE Attends Night Court – Not Exactly Like The 80’s Sitcom

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Pleasant Prairie Municipal Court Judge Dick Ginkowski
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Did you know that there was night court in Kenosha? We didn’t. That was, until we did. Judge Richard Ginkowski holds night court on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm for the Village of Pleasant Prairie. He’s been elected to his post since 2012. He isn’t new to the criminal justice system, however. He was a cop, prosecutor, and now, a judge.

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We asked Ginkowski if we could take a couple of photographs inside his courtroom while court was in session. He granted our request. As many of you know, photos can’t be taken during court in Wisconsin without permission from the judge. KCE didn’t photograph any defendants Wednesday evening. There weren’t any serious charges that warranted that.

Wednesday evening, we saw about 20 defendants appear for their initial court dates. Ginkowski started the session with an explanation of what each plea meant. He allows defendants to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. Many judges in Kenosha County don’t allow “no contest” pleas. It is essentially the same as a guilty plea, and you will be found guilty – some people simply think it sounds better.

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Judge Ginkowski Looking at a man’s Concealed Carry License
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Wednesday evening we saw OWI’s, citations for accidents, hit and run, following too closely and, not wearing a seatbelt. On interesting case was for a man who was carrying a concealed weapon without a license. He was licensed to do so in Illinois, but he had moved to Wisconsin, so he technically needed a license for WI. The Pleasant Prairie Police Officer cut him a big break and only wrote him a ticket, not ask for him to be criminally charged. He showed the Judge that he has since received his concealed carry card in Wisconsin. Ginkowski fined the man only $30.

Many people received tickets for emissions-related suspensions. Under Wisconsin law, said Ginkowski, you might be eligible for a waiver if the repair is more that $1,000. Many defendants were pulled over driving without insurance. For one such woman, Ginkowski suggested that she adjourn the case, giving her time to get insurance, and perhaps a break on the citation. “Would you rather pay money for a ticket, or pay money for insurance?” asked the judge.

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Pleasant Prairie Municipal Court Judge Dick Ginkowski
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

After all of the cases for those present were called, Ginkowski then moved onto the larger part of the evening’s docket – the people who didn’t show up. Ginkowski then began to go through those citations. Some people got stamps of doom – “Guilty by Default.” Ginkowski took mercy on some of the lower-level citations and mailed them new summons to give them another chance to appear.

“Bull” was not present in court, but a member of the Pleasant Prairie Police Department was on hand to keep the peace.

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Pleasant Prairie Municipal Court Judge Dick Ginkowski
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Pleasant Prairie Municipal Court Judge Dick Ginkowski and PPPD Officer
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

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11 Responses

  1. It is too bad that Ginkowski has been and is a long time enabler of corruption in Kenosha County and Pleasant Prairie. He is the poster child of the “good ol’ boys.” When he reads this he can reflect on what he has done to make this so.

  2. I will try this again.

    Ginkowski has been and remains an enabler of corruption in both Kenosha county and Pleasant Prairie for his entire career. He is the poster child for the “good ol” boys.” When he reads this, he can reflect on his life and remember why this is so.

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    1. WTF? The good old boys tolerate him but don’t trust him. Did you know that they tried to control him by illegally cutting his term from four to two years (eventually reversed)? He’s prosecuted a lot of corruption cases, more so than the people who followed him.

      1. The court has nothing to do with how the town is run. It just handles the tickets written by the police department — nothing else.

  3. The system is rigged. Judge gets paid by the city, cops get paid by the city. It’s all a Ponzi scheme to fleece the average citizen

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    1. That does not seem to jibe with asking a woman if she’d rather pay a ticket for not having insurance or get insurance.

    1. The CCAP program is for circuit court cases only. The state does not have (or want to spend, take your choice) the money to expand it. The municipal courts do not receive any state funding (they actually send money to the state). Municipal courts have to rely on private software vendors and there’s no uniform program statewide. They asked the state for assistance with a uniform software package and the state’s response is that they are barely able to keep up with the demands of the circuit courts.

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