Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Panel recommends public reprimand for Ziegler; case heads to Supreme Court

A public reprimand is sufficient discipline for Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler's conflict-of-interest problems, a special judicial conduct panel has recommended.

The panel made the recommendation based on the then-Washington Co. judge handling cases involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.

The ultimate decision of what -- if any -- discipline Ziegler should face rests with the Supreme Court. But the panel wrote in its recommendation that there's no chance Ziegler will commit the same misconduct in the future and the public attention her case has received has already put other Wisconsin judges on notice to avoid similar mistakes.

The panel, comprised of three appeals court judges, found a more severe discipline wasn't warranted. It noted that neither she nor her family benefited financially in any way from her handling the cases and none of the parties in the 11 cases where misconduct occurred had sought to re-open them. The panel also noted Ziegler reached the correct result in each decision, though she should have known not to participate in the cases.

"Given her knowledge of her husband's relationships with the bank, red flags of danger were prominently flying. Justice Ziegler did not see them," the judges wrote.

See the panel's recommendation: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080103_JCP_Ziegler.pdf

Ziegler and the Wisconsin Judicial Commission have each notified the Supreme Court that they will not file any additional briefs in the case.

"We respectfully request that this matter be taken under advisement by this Court without additional briefing or oral argument, " Ziegler's attorneys wrote in the letter.

See the Ziegler letter: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080108ZieglerLetter.pdf

See the Judicial Commission letter: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080109ZieglerNoBr.pdf

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