In three months, Dennis Resch will pound the gavel for the last time as municipal judge for the city of New London and the city of Weyauwega.
He will retire as municipal judge when his term ends, April 30.
Resch, who is in his 10th year as municipal judge, was originally appointed to the position on Jan. 1, 2005.
He said the reason he stayed this long, is the same reason he originally wanted to become municipal judge.
“You do public service because you just want to,” Resch said. “People who get into politics and people who sit on our city council, they’re there because they want to do something, give something back.”
Resch said there are only 256 municipal judges throughout Wisconsin.
“Some of them are just marvelous people,” he said. “Basically, a lot of them have given a lifetime to this.”
During his time as municipal judge he said between managing the clerk of court staff, managing the budget and doing the actual court sessions, he would spend between 15-20 hours every week. But he stressed that while serving as judge, you are a judge all the time. He also says there are strict guidelines as to what judges can and can not do.
“Technically speaking you are judge 24/7,” Resch said. “Actual hours, that really depends on the individual because there is tremendous reading that is involved in keeping up with the current case files. You are constantly learning something. The state is constantly changing the ordinances, so every year you’re always in an education mode.”
Resch is appreciative of his time serving as municipal judge, but he also said it wasn’t a difficult decision to retire.
“I’m 65 and time is ticking away. In my mind I’ve got 10 strong years to go and retire and do some other stuff, see my grandkids,” Resch said.
He said he also doesn’t want to become a judge who is 75 or 80 years old.
“I ask myself, ‘Why are they still there?’ You don’t have the same thought pattern as you did when you were 50,” Resch said. “It’s time to move on, bring the younger people in. It’s melancholy sweet at the same time.”
When Resch is in charge of a courtroom he expects everybody to maintain a professional, non-personal decorum.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to be called, ‘Your Honor,” Resch said. “It’s just not a job for everybody. You have to be able to make really tough decisions sometimes. If you can’t make tough decisions, it’s certainly not the job for you. It’s good to give good news, but it’s also part of your job to give bad news. That just goes with the territory.
“There are a lot of pressures put on you. You just have to be in a mindset to be a judge.”
He knows his last day as judge will come with sadness.
“It’s so final, you don’t get to change your mind,” Resch said.
He will miss the people the most.
“You get to know all these people in here and they are actually very dedicated employees,” he said.
Looking back over the past 10 years, Resch says he will remember the successes and the failures of his time on the bench.
“It’s not my job to punish people. My job is to enforce the regulations that are out there and make sure everybody’s rights are protected,” Resch said.
When his retirement arrives, Resch said he expects to be just as busy, if not busier, than he is now. He said his wife has projects for him to do.
“Just trying to keep up with her is going to be a challenge in itself,” Resch said. “We have a couple of places we want to go see. I want to go up to Maine and pick a lobster off the sea floor.”
Until April 30, though, Resch will continue to serve the people of New London and Weyauwega.
“I really appreciate the honor of being able to sit up there for 10 years,” Resch said. “I would like the public to really understand that New London is a tremendous community. It has a lot of potential going for it. I just want people to understand I appreciate them.”