The exterior of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Some insults sting for a long time, especially if you’re a lawyer and the slight comes from a judge.

A Milwaukee public defender says he was insulted in court by Jeffrey Conen, a retired jurist who was back on the bench as a reserve judge earlier this month. Conen found him in contempt of court for making the allegation.

The incident, now under review by court officials, has many in the public defender’s office calling for Conen’s removal from the reserve court.

Judge Jeffrey Conen in a 2018 photo.

Conen is one of four reserve judges helping staff an extra branch of the Milwaukee Circuit Court to try to chip away at a massive backlog of cases resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The others are Thomas Wolfgram, Jeffrey Kremers and Daniel Konkol. The judges have been taking the bench a week at a time.

Reserve Judge John Franke has dedicated six months full-time to a second branch dealing with the backlog of felony drug cases.