Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ziegler settles with Ethics Board

Supreme Court Justice-elect Annette Ziegler has agreed to pay $5,000 and the state Ethics Board's legal costs to settle a complaint the agency filed against her over cases she heard in her Washington County court room involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.

The Ethics Board, which estimated its legal costs at about $12,000, said in a release Ziegler had acknowledged Wisconsin's Ethics Code's standards of conduct in hearing the cases involving West Bend Savings Bank.

"To demonstrate that they are fair and neutral, judges should not participate in or adjudicate cases involving parties with which they or members of their immediate families are associated; Judge Ziegler did," SEB executive director Roth Judd said in a statement. "Even so, the Ethics Board found no evidence that Judge Ziegler used her position to obtain any financial gain or advantage for herself or for her family."

Ziegler stressed in a statement that the board found she and her family did not benefit in any way from her decisions in the cases.

The Supreme Court refused last week to grant Ziegler's request to take original jurisdiction in her suit seeking to block the Ethics Board complaint, which was scheduled for a hearing tomorrow. That hearing has been canceled.

Ziegler said she continued to believe the Judicial Commission was the proper body to examine the case. But given the court's decision and her desire to quickly complete any reviews of her work as a circuit court judge, she decided it was best to settle. She is scheduled to take the oath of office for the Supreme Court in August.

"Finally, I'm hopeful the Judicial Commission can complete its review in a timely fashion," Ziegler said. "I am confident they will similarly find I did not benefit from any judicial decision I made, and that I did not show any bias toward any party in any case that c ame before me."

Read the settlement:

Read the Ethics Board statement:

Read the Ziegler statement:


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