Gavel Grab

Judicial Recusal Debated in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Wisconsin Public Radio has produced an explanatory piece about  judicial recusal and how the court’s rules have become a campaign issue in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race.

In 2009, the Wisconsin Supreme Court weakened its recusal policy significantly, saying that campaign expenditures could not be a cause for an elected judge to recuse.

Challenger Ed Fallone, a Marquette University law professor, has called for changing the rule.

“I think that when someone leaves the courthouse, and they have perhaps lost their case, they need to feel that they were treated fairly,” he said at a recent debate. “When they discover that that judge had received substantial campaign contributions from someone on the other side of the aisle — either the party or their lawyer — they’re going to doubt whether they were treated fairly.”

Incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack, defending the rule, said it should not be assumed that a judge will be influenced by campaign cash.

“That just really isn’t the circumstances,” she said. “We have an elective system and the judges are presumed to be honest, fair and independent. So we have to be careful that in our efforts here about recusal, we don’t basically besmirch the judiciary as a whole.”

Voters will choose the next Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, April 2.

A Milwaukee County judicial race was the topic of a Huffington Post article entitled, “Club for Growth Wisconsin Spending Big In Milwaukee County Judicial Race.” Prosecutor Janet Protasiewicz is challenging incumbent Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Bradley. Club for Growth has spent $167,000 in support of the incumbent.



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