Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online Petition To Urge Ziegler To Get Off Conflicted Case

One Wisconsin Now has launched an online petition to try and persuade Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler to remove herself from hearing an appeal partially funded by the business organization that spent heavily in her campaign.

The petition link is here.

I'm not sure what is left of the Court's reputation, as Ziegler's tone-deaf relationship with the institution and her colleagues seems limitless.

She's already put them into the bizarre position of having to consider her discipline for an earlier round of ethics violations.

Those stemmed from conflicts of interest arising from routinely judging cases in Washington County involving a business in which she and her husband had a financial interest.

Has there ever been a learning curve for a Wisconsin jurist apparently this steep to master? I don't get it.

Yes, in this case, she did disclose the conflict with the appellant's financial backer - - Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce - - but look at the appearance!

There are more elements to this than just the legal and technical issues, important as they are:

This looks bad. The timing is breath-taking. As I said in an earlier post, when I first saw this on jsonline, I felt like I was reading The Onion.

(Full disclosure: I am on the board of a One Wisconsin Now arm, but had no role in OWN's earlier efforts regarding the Ziegler campaign, or the creation of this online effort, having learned about it in an email this morning.)


Anonymous said...

What was that you were saying the other day about hypocrites?

This is the best part:

"Butler told the Journal Sentinel this month that he would disclose whenever a lawyer with a case before the court had donated to his campaign. On Wednesday, the Journal Sentinel asked his office why he had never disclosed a June donation from Maureen A. McGinnity, a lawyer for Menasha.

Hours later, he faxed a letter to attorneys in the case saying that McGinnity sat on his campaign's finance committee and had given him $500. McGinnity declined to comment."

James Rowen said...

This is regrettable.
I think it does not rise to the level of Ziegler's problem with regard to the role WMC played in her campaign, or in the context of her pending ethics case.
But it is a mistake on his part.
I'd be happy if there were public financing of campaigns. Maybe we should stage it, beginning with the Supreme Court, given its importance.