Judge Tlusty retired effective Aug. 1


Retiring Judge Jay Tlusty receives a plaque of recognition from the Wisconsin Supreme Court recognizing his 18 years of service on the bench, being presented by Judge Robert Russell, as Michelle Livingston (Court Stenographer) and Judge Tlusty’s family look on.

The Honorable Jay Tlusty, Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge in Branch 1, retired effective Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. His last day in the office was Friday, July 29, although he remained on call over the weekend until the new judge was sworn in Monday morning.
On his final day in court as acting Lincoln County Judge on Friday morning, July 29, Tlusty faced a full courtroom and attendees via Zoom, but this time it wasn’t to decide a case or render a verdict. It was to hear from family, peers, and colleagues who came to pay tribute to Tlusty and his 18 years serving Lincoln County in his role as Judge.
Prior to being elected as Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge in 2004 in a race against Don Dunphy, in which he won by nearly 1,000 votes, the then-48-year-old Tlusty had practiced law in private practice in Lincoln County for 23 years and was part owner of the Russell & Tlusty Law Office in Merrill. He retired from private practice to advance to the position of Judge.
Between private practice and his time on the bench, Tlusty has been employed in the legal profession for 41 years. However, despite retiring as Branch 1 Judge, Tlusty isn’t leaving the legal field or the community. Tlusty will continue to serve as a Circuit Court Reserve Judge in the future.
Retirement will be a change from the long dark nights working alone in the echoing chambers of the 119-year-old Lincoln County Courthouse. At the farewell celebration, he was both honored and good-naturedly teased by colleagues about his long hours and dedication to his role in working for justice for Lincoln County residents.
His wife, Maxine, also teased him about the time he was “held hostage” in the Courthouse on one of those long nights when he couldn’t exit because a skunk was wandering around outside between the Courthouse door and the parked vehicle where she sat waiting for him.
Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Robert Russell presented Tlusty with a plaque from the Supreme Court recognizing Tlusty’s 18-year-contribution to the justice system serving Lincoln County. Then Russell, along with a number of other retired and standing judges, including Judge Gary Carlson, Judge Gregory Huber, and Judge Greg Grau, were among the speakers to wish Tlusty well and give him a healthy measure of good-natured teasing, as well.
Colleagues and others also spoke, including representatives from the Sheriff’s Department, Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Social Services, and Tlusty’s own staff. Tlusty’s daughters, Michelle and Melanie, spoke via Zoom, as well.

Judge Jay Tlusty discovered he was interested in a career in the legal field back in the 9th grade when researching and completing an assignment for Ralph Wehlitz in his Social Studies class. The two have stayed in touch over the years and Wehlitz attended Tlusty’s retirement celebration.

In comments thanking everyone who came, Judge Tlusty recognized and gave tribute to his former ninth grade social studies teacher, Ralph Wehlitz, who was present. Tlusty shared how an assignment in Wehlitz’s classroom, researching and presenting the pros and cons of three different careers, helped influence his decision to pursue a career in the legal field. Tlusty said he researched careers as an architect, a business executive, and a lawyer in that ninth-grade assignment, which included interviewing Attorney John Thiel who worked in the office building he would later inhabit as a lawyer.
Tlusty said he quickly decided he wasn’t cut out to be an architect, but he did attend college for business and then went on to law school. The rest, as they say, is now history.
Maxine Tlusty mentioned having a “honey-do list” to keep the Judge busy as soon as his retirement officially began on Monday, colleagues spoke of getting together for brunch and coffee, and Jay Tlusty is sure to be enjoying more of the baseball games he loves, as he embraces his retirement. Beyond that, Tlusty said, “We’re just gonna take time … We’re gonna do a little bit of traveling and then decide how we want to become involved in the community.”

Judge Jay Tlusty poses with his wife, Maxine, during his retirement celebration at the Lincoln County Courthouse on Friday, July 29, 2022.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top