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Annette Ziegler, “Public Clamor”, And Justice in Wisconsin

January 7, 2008

I must admit to being taken aback last week by not only the conclusion from a three judge panel concerning the ethical and legal lapses of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler, but also the tone of those remarks.  Ziegler has long been in the news since her conflicts of interest surfaced during the race for the Supreme Court in the spring of 2007. 

The panel consisting of three Court of Appeals judges recommended only a reprimand is given to Ziegler for her many self-admitted inappropriate behaviors as a circuit judge in Washington County.  While on the bench Ziegler presided over among other cases, eleven West Bend Savings Bank cases at the same time her husband sat on the bank’s board of directors.  Not only was she involved with misconduct on the bench, but she also had conflicts of interests due to her stock holdings that she had not disclosed. 

In face of the facts about the tainted judge, the panel recommended only a reprimand is needed as a form of punishment by the six members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court that will weigh in on this matter.

Let us be clear about this ‘punishment’.  Instead of a true response to a most serious violation of judicial ethics, the panel offered only an embarrassment that insults the whole legal system, and the citizens that the system is designed to serve.  The panel had an obligation to get the job concerning Ziegler completed correctly.  Not for any partisan reason, or to satisfy any personal vendetta.  They had a duty to get it right to preserve the high ideals and objective rendering of justice that citizens expect in Wisconsin.

Every person with any sense of the situation that Ziegler finds herself in, fully understands that there is a code of conduct for a judge that is clearly spelled out, as are the consequence’s for misconduct while on the bench.  For the panel to water down and dilute the matter ill serves the greater needs of justice in the state.

For the panel to recommend the Supreme Court disregard “public clamor” and accept the recommendation of a reprimand is a cold hard slap to the citizens who work hard, pay the taxes, play by the rules, and expect their governmental and judicial systems to work.  There has been a great deal of conversation in the general public about this matter.  Concerned voices have expressed themselves on editorial pages in newspapers, joined the debate on radio, and in the world of blogs.  I myself have written often about this matter and do not believe that my feelings, or those of my fellow citizens, are worthless to the debate about what the Ziegler matter does to our sense of justice in Wisconsin.

First Annette Ziegler told the electorate during the election that the matters concerning her ethical and legal issues were not important in the campaign.  Now we are told that her actions and lapses of judgment are things that she not need be held accountable for.  In addition the Supreme Court is being told to discount the voices of the citizenry that strongly object to this matter being whitewashed.

Perhaps it is time for every citizen in the state to seriously ask if the tail is not now wagging the dog.

If the severity for ethical lapses (and worse) is no more than a mere reprimand, I suggest our judicial system is in great need of repair.

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  1. Jerry Person permalink
    July 1, 2009 1:14 PM

    How can truth honor and justice bite you in the butt? The double statndards have created the largest police state in the world. Wisconsin!! The nasive amount of damage doen to the youth of Wisconsin by the judiciary the people are outraged. TheyMedia lives in fear of felon judges. Affraid to tell the truth. What could bite you hardeder?
    Judges in Wisconsin are all pure evil!
    I remember when judges and justice could be compared. Today judges are rated on convivtion rates. Honest people never stand a chance against career predators like district attorneys and judges. Remember judge violate the rights they are paid to protect. They obviously only protect there own pocket book.
    To lie and mislead is a pervert. Judges and district attorneys are all perverts.
    No system is worse than Wisconsin`s as the mumbers show. Bigotry, cash and scheming lawyers run todays courts. Today people need lawyers to witness the crime against the person by the judge and district attorney.

  2. March 11, 2008 11:14 AM

    Judges never forget their ambulance chasing days. They learn they have to be scoundrels to compete. It is part of a lawyers survival. Most lawyers are pretty boys or rich kids. Lets face it the average person thinks of making money to help the family etc. We all dream of college, but finances do not allow it. Only rich spoiled brats can make a career out of college or their dealers. I’m talking 8 to 10 years of college as a scoundrel does.
    Like running for president or governor. You must be rich and a dealer to make it. The myth of working their way through college is one in a million. Some do get grants like winning lottery. Or have connections.
    Lawyers never struggle or live a life anything compared to the average Joe. This has caused the lack of Common sense in our Courts. They have experience in decision making like how many olives in my drink.
    In Wisconsin most Circuit Court Judges are not elected as you would think. You will read every month the Governor appoints another Circuit Court judge somewhere in Wisconsin. As in the new Supreme Court race they state why they were originally appointed as Circuit Court judges by the Governor at the time.. As Circuit Court judges retire it is common practice to resign in the middle of their term. They have six year terms.
    This allows the POWERS THAT BE to stay in control in each County. It is then almost unheard of a Lawyer running against a sitting judge. It is suicide for a lawyer because spoiled rich kids (judges are very vindictive.) . It would not be fair to your clients knowing you will never get a fair ruling in front of that judge again. Scougrels are very competitive. This has allowed Scoundrels to make a mockery out of the Election system for Judges. In Rusk County the Scoundrel was appointed by Tony Earl in 1986. In Sawyer County the scoundrel was appointed by Tommy Thompson in 1994. These are Heir to the THROWN. Some Democracy. As we all Know absolute power always corrupts.
    That is why Circuit Courts now legislate from the bench because they have absolute power. They also use case law which is legislating from the bench. Also against state law that they ALL use. Like all Kings they receive their thrown from family and financial ties. The biggest scoundrel wins.
    Once this scoundrel wins Wisconsinites all loose as the records show. All Judges must be elected with two year term limits. Allowing new blood in the courts. The system as it is the defendant usually is the most HONEST person in the Court Room.
    Putting a robe on a Lawyer is like putting perfume on a PIG.
    They are still SCOUNGRELS!!!!
    We should put a rope on these scoundrels and take our Justice system back. There are laws in place just the Wisconsin Judicial Commission is King of King Scoundrels appointed as all Kings or Judges. Judicial Elections in Wisconsin are a myth at all levels.
    As in Sawyer County the local Paper is no more than a public relations firm for the County. They fear these scoundrels.
    Time to make a Democracy out of this Hypocrisy!

  3. March 11, 2008 11:12 AM

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  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 8, 2008 12:36 PM

    Fred – do you think that its better for a corrupt system to prevail over people speaking out against it?

    American justice was established on absolute rules that people should be able to rely on. Diluting those rules to the point of irrelevancy is what we are seeing and we need to take that authority out of the hands of the courts. Judges judging Judges does not work in the interest of justice.

    They could not even refer to one case of ethical discipline to compare this case with. Are we to believe that out of the hundreds of complaints through the years that were denied, maybe thousands, that the system is working?

    This most public case is showing us the problem, it appears their thumbing there noses at us.

    I think Fred is wrong and appreciate you using your writing talent for these good purposes.

  5. January 7, 2008 11:00 AM

    Take this seriously and consider the ethical lapse.

    There were a couple of cases that could have been serious issues.

    However what the Ziegler opponents did was to take minor issues and try and make a big deal out of them as well. The vast majority of the cases in question were small claims, settled out of court that went through Ziegler’s office for processing. Judge Ziegler never touched them they were just processed through her office.

    The problem lies in partisan advocates trying to make scandal where none existed in that case.

    In short, they threw too much mud on the wall, and people could not tell what was what is it was all too complicated.

    Then there are leftist advocates like yourself who wish ignore that side of this issue.

    Beware the world you are trying to create. It might bite you in the butt.

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