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Capital Times: “Ziegler Should Quit The Bench”

November 30, 2007

With lucid writing another state newspaper makes the only conclusion one can about the seriously flawed and unethical life of Annette Ziegler.

State judicial ethics rules require judges to disqualify themselves from participating in cases when a reasonable person would question their ability to be impartial. On Thursday, Ziegler participated in oral arguments on a tax case that is a top priority of WMC, her campaign’s chief benefactor.

As a national watchdog on judicial ethics issues, James Sample, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, has observed, “The argument could certainly be made that it would be reasonable to question her impartiality (in this case).” But we don’t have to take Sample’s word for it. Ziegler has effectively admitted the conflict.

Early in November, the justice disclosed in a letter to lawyers representing the parties involved in the case that WMC had been a key supporter of her campaign. But the letter from Ziegler, whose shamelessness has extended to openly lying to the voters of Wisconsin about the facts of her ethical abuses, also informed the lawyers that she intended to participate in deliberations regarding the tax case.

That combination of an admission of a conflict and a refusal to recuse is what disqualifies Ziegler from further service on the court. And if she does not recognize that fact, then the other justices must speak up to assert a basic standard of judicial responsibility.

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