Walker Budget Would End Independence of WI Judicial Commission

Among the changes that Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would make for funding of the state judiciary is a provision to end the independence of the state Judicial Commission, which investigates claims of judicial misconduct.

The budget would give the Wisconsin Supreme Court direct control of the commission. A Walker aide characterized the proposed shift as merely administrative, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“I’m not convinced the Supreme Court budget is the best place for the commission, with all due respect to the governor,” Justice Annette Ziegler said. “It looks like the commission is under our authority and control when frankly it shouldn’t be.”

Justice Ziegler was reprimanded by the Supreme Court in 2008 following a complaint brought against her by the commission. The complaint involved her “not disclosing her husband’s ties to a West Bend bank when she handled cases as a Washington County circuit judge,” the newspaper said.

“If the Judicial Commission is going to investigate members of the Supreme Court, it’s difficult for them to do that to the extent the court has the ability to retaliate against them in some way,” said Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.