Editorial: Justice Ziegler lowers bar for judges, lawyers
How does a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice "inadvertently" violate the state's ethics code? Shouldn't a lawyer who advanced so far in her profession have at least a minimal grasp of appropriate judicial conduct?...
How does a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice "inadvertently" violate the state's ethics code? Shouldn't a lawyer who advanced so far in her profession have at least a minimal grasp of appropriate judicial conduct?
Apparently not, according to the attorney representing newly elected Justice Annette Ziegler. During a Monday disciplinary hearing before three Court of Appeals judges, attorney James Troupis said his client, back when she was a circuit court judge, failed to recognize a conflict of interest when ruling on cases involving West Bend Savings Bank while her husband served on the institution's board.
News reports don't indicate whether Troupis kept a straight face while pleading Ziegler's defense. Certainly, his agrument wouldn't hold water if the tables were turned. What judge would find a defendant blameless because they "inadvertently" forgot laws against domestic abuse, embezzlement or murder? It's astounding that a state Supreme Court justice would allow such legal blasphemy to be uttered in her name.
But this is an era in which shameless public officials shake off humiliation like ducks shed water. One can't help but ask how much of this absurdity voters will tolerate. Will they re-elect a high court judge who doesn't understand grade school-level ethics? How about state legislators who defend double billing their campaign accounts and taxpayers for the same costs?
There's no justification for such arrogance, not even in the hazy realm of politics. It demeans voters, making them feel unempowered in a governmental system that doesn't know right from wrong -- one in which elected officials defend all wrongdoing and refuse to apologize.
Hopefully, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals will reject such rude behavior and strongly reprimand Ziegler. For a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, the bar can't be set lower without digging a hole.