Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wisconsin Supreme Court takes an ethics action, but...

While I'm glad to see the State Supreme Court taking the action - -  
Supreme Court suspends Racine County judge for ethical violations
- - I can't help but gape at the ironies, er contradictions, er hypocrisies, in light of these episodes:

* The recent partisan appearance and talk by the Court's newest Justice-elect:

Former Scott Walker chief legal counsel and WI Supreme Court Justice-elect Brian Hagedorn delivered on Saturday to a room full of equally ignorant and one-dimensional partisans this unprecedented and supremely negligent pander: 
Hagedorn tells Republicans they 'saved' Supreme Court
* When conservatives on the Court allowed special interests to write a revision of the judiciary's conflict-of-interest rules:
Realtors, WMC Wrote WI Supreme Court's No-Foul Ethics Rule 
* With one national group giving the Court a failing ethics grade:
The Center for American Progress surveys the states on judicial ethics, gives Wisconsin an "F," and slaps David Prosser's face at the top of the Internet version of the report.
Read it here:
Wisconsin: F (35 points) 
Wisconsin received a failing grade after its state supreme court adopted a recusal rule that literally instructs judges not to recuse themselves from cases involving campaign contributors. In 2010, the four-justice conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to institute a recusal rule written by the Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a group that subsequently donated nearly $1 million to support conservative Justice David Prosser’s re-election in 2011. The rule says that recusal is not required “based solely on … a lawful campaign contribution.” The majority’s comments that accompany the rule say that requiring recusal for campaign cash “would create the impression that receipt of a contribution automatically impairs the judge’s integrity.” In other words, the four justices in the conservative majority are worried that mandatory recusal would lead the public to think that judges are biased.
I'd dealt with these issues in earlier posts, including here, and here.
And yet the Court refused to change the rule, and its collective mind.  
Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects recusal changes when campaign donors are litigants
Seal of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.svg
*  There was the dismissal of an ethics complaint filed with a judicial commission against one Justice because his colleagues couldn't agree on a remedy for running a demonstrably false campaign ad.
Three justices said the commission should dismiss the complaint because the ad was technically true, if distasteful, and protected speech under the First Amendment. Three others said Gableman knowingly made a false statement, violating a rule that says judges cannot misrepresent their opponents’ backgrounds, and the case should have a trial.
* Not to mention another ethics case brought against another Justice which was allowed to die after most others recused themselves, and the Justice eventually resigned. 

* Then there was yet another rule change that would keep such complaints secret.

Other than all that, things look pretty good.

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