Jay Bullock is keeping hope alive on this supreme court thing:
There also remains the possibility of the complaints against Ziegler working their way far enough up that she may have to resign; remember, we're talking now upwards of 100 or 150 cases in which she violated both the spirit and the plain letter of the state's judicial code of conduct. I realize that chance is remote--and, if it happens, it will look unfortunately like partisan wrangling rather than a necessary step against an unethical judge--but that's one small light we can cling to.
Turn out the lights. The chance isn't even remote. Jay makes the same mistake as Linda Clifford did. This was a real issue, but it wasn't the hanging offense that they imagined it to be.
He wants to know why Ziegler's alleged failure to comply with the judicial code is not the same as Robert Zellner fishing for porn on a school computer. He can't understand why anyone would refer to the Justice-elect Ziegler's handling of these matters as mere "sloppiness."
We've been through this again and again, but it is a huge (and wildly unfair) thing to compare an elected justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to a guy who cruises for porn on a school computer, so I will explain it one more time.
There are two categories of cases. Most of the "scores" Jay refers to involved cases in which she held stock in a party (mostly United Healthcare, no?). The rules say she has to recuse if 1) she has a more than a de minimis interest that 2} could be substantially affected by the outcome of the case. The Judicial Commission issued an an advisory that sets 20k as a threshold for recusal, but there are lots of judges that don't follow it as both the Wisconsin State Journal and Milwaukee Magazine recently pointed out.
Maybe they should (although I don't see this as self evident). Maybe the rule should be changed and the advisory should become mandatory. But all the rule calls for is the kind of "gut check" that she claims to have undertaken. As far as I am aware, none of those cases was likely to have the slightest impact on share value, so her conclusion that she could proceed is not unreasonable - given the limitations of the rule.
The West Bend cases are different. There, because her husband was a director, she had to recuse or get a waiver, but, as I understand it, the overwhelming majority defaulted. While I think that the rule still technically applies, there was no one to get a waiver from and really nothing for the judge to do. Processing the case is largely clerical. It's hard to get worked up about those.
There were a few (two or three to my knowledge) that were not defaulted and the question becomes: Did she intentionally disregard the rule? That is implausible. None of these cases were material to West Bend and none would have been handled any differently by any other judge. The defendants showed but they had no defense. Why would she intentionally disregard the rule if it would not benefit her or West Bend? Hence, the reference to sloppiness. She seems to have made a subjective judgment when she should not have. Not good, but few of us have not fumbled sometime along the way.
As for Zellner, maybe he did not know he was going for porn. Or maybe he didn't appreciate that it was against the rules. Or maybe the rule only prohibited viewing what was, in the teacher's judgment, really hard core porn. In that case, there might be some similarity.
I really don't have much of an opinion on Zellner, but the voters of Wisconsin did not elect an unethical person to the Supreme Court.