Wisconsin supreme court says it is ok for judges to sit on cases involving large campaign donors

This year, 54 respected Reserve Judges brought forth Rules Petition 17-01 to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Rules Petition 17-01 would have required judges to recuse themselves from hearing cases involving their large campaign donors.  The 5-2 vote defeating 17-01 in April was along partisan lines.

In June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted again on partisan lines to close their administrative meetings to the public.  

In September, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted again on partisan lines to reduce the compensation for the Reserve Judges.  Many of whom brought forth the Rules Petition 17-01.

Once again, the right-wing majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court shows a startling insensitivity to the appearance of impropriety. Axing benefits of judges who shine the moral spotlight on the court worries citizens that we have a Wisconsin Supreme Court that will deal swiftly with judges who raise legitimate concerns.
-Tim Burns


4/20/2017 Wisconsin state journal: Supreme Court: Judges can hear cases involving top campaign donors

The conservative majority on the state Supreme Court has rejected a petition from a group of former judges to require all judges and justices to recuse themselves from cases involving big donors to their campaigns.

The justices voted 5-2 on Thursday against the petition from 54 retired judges that asked the justices to create a set of donation amounts that would trigger a judge or justice to step aside from a case.

4/20/2017 ASSOCIATED PRESS: Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Campaign Donor Recusal Rules

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court's conservative majority threw out a petition to bar judges at all levels from hearing cases involving the largest donors to their election campaigns.

The court voted 5-2 on Thursday to reject a rule change suggested by 54 retired Wisconsin judges that would've required judges to recuse themselves if they have received campaign donations of certain sizes from any parties in a case. The suggested amounts ranged from $10,000 for state Supreme Court justices to $500 for municipal judges.

Only the court's two liberal-leaning justices — Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley — voted for the change. It also had the support of liberal groups and dozens of individuals who argued that Wisconsin lags behind other states in protecting the appearance of fairness on the state's courts.

Under the proposed rules, municipal judges would step away from cases if they’ve received a campaign donation of at least $500 from an involved party. Circuit court judges would step aside if they had received at least $1,000, appellate judges would recuse if they had received at least $2,500, and Supreme Court justices would recuse themselves if they had received $10,000.

6/22/2017 Associated press: Wisconsin High Court to Deliberate Behind Closed Doors Only

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to move deliberations over rules it operates under behind closed doors.

The vote this week came amid hostility that has been present in the court in recent years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2suC6lN ) reported.

The state Supreme Court has always conducted its arguments on cases in public and its deliberations about them behind closed doors. But in 1999, the state high court became one of the first to hold its administrative meetings publicly. In recent years, the meetings would be shown live on the WisconsinEye Public Affairs Network, where justices discussed issues that often pertained to court policies.

9/27/2017 Milwaukee Journal sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court cuts stipends for judges who asked for tougher conflict standards

MADISON - Wisconsin’s Supreme Court abruptly cut stipends this month for reserve judges, reducing compensation for a group that tried to get the high court to strengthen its conflict-of-interest rules. 

The stipend reduction for reserve judges comes at a time when the head of the Supreme Court is seeking to boost pay for sitting judges by 16%. 

On a 5-2 vote, the high court ended the ability of reserve judges to receive $454 daily stipends when they go to conferences or classes they are required to attend. They will continue to receive reimbursement for meals, lodging and other travel costs