No comparing judicial cases by John Kocovsky
Mr. Kuppenheimer’s letter, “Judicial Misconduct in Wisconsin” (Viewpoint, 4/1) equates the 29 Dane County judges’ petition signing with the judicial impropriety of Supreme Court judges Prosser’s and Gableman’s actual judicial misconduct. These two actions are not the same.
First, if the petitions had not been made public, there would have not been any appearance of impropriety. But, because the Republicans insisted that the recall petitions be made public, supposedly to check for fake signatures (four found), only then was an appearance of judicial impropriety and political controversy generated. Will the Republicans next insist that the judges voting records be made public?
Wisconsin’s Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits partisan activity by judges, but it doesn’t make reference to recall petitions. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has stated that signing the petition did not violate judicial ethics. The director of the American Judicature Society’s Center for Judicial Ethics agreed that the Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit signing a recall petition. “When there might be a conflict with the First Amendment, conduct that is not expressly prohibited is allowed.”
On the other hand, there is Prosser, who has said “I will be a complement” to Gov. Walker and the current Legislature because my views “closely mirror” Walker’s. And, it was Prosser who along with Walker appeared at a Tea Party event in March 2010 sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. It was Prosser who let lobbyists for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and the Wisconsin Realtors write new “ethical” rules for the Supreme Court which allows justices to rule in cases even if the special interests that donated to elect them are a party to the case before the court. Again it was Prosser who voted against requiring judges to recuse themselves solely because the judge’s campaign committee received previous contributions from involved parties.
Then, you have fellow Justice Gableman, who the independent Wisconsin Judicial Commission concluded, violated the ethical standard for judges by running a false campaign ad against Justice Louis Butler. Gableman, who has appeared and made speeches at GOP fundraisers and Gableman who violated state ethics laws when he accepted free legal services from Michael Best & Friedrich, a high-powered law firm. Or the instance, where a lawyer who provided free legal services to Justice Gableman was forced to resign from Gov. Scott Walker’s judicial selection commission.
The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
John Kocovsky, Hazelhurst