Local liberal blogger Jay Bullock inadvertently acknowledges what is behind the level of mock outrage over Annette Ziegler's violation of a provision of Wisconsin's judicial code concerning disclosures and recusals. He's disappointed that she has admitted to violations of the order and settled with the state's Ethics Board:
No Ziegler under oath today. She won't be forced to detail in open court what her thinking was as she repeatedly violated the state's code of judicial ethics. She won't have to make any statements on the record that could be used against her when she runs for re-election in a decade. (emphasis supplied.)
Well, of course there won't be a hearing because there are no facts to be established. She has admitted, as the board charged, that she handled (although there was not much to do) five cases in which her husband sat on the board which state law defines as having a financial interest. The only reason to conduct a hearing would be to torment her about it and, while that may be a relevant part of a political campaign and Jay might enjoy it, it is not the board's function.
As I have blogged before, it has been clear from the outset that 1) Ziegler broke a prophylactic rule by sitting on some cases involving a bank for which her husband is a director; 2) most of the "numerous" cases on which she was said to have done this were actually defaults (the Ethics Board found five that were not) on which she literally did nothing, 3) she did not sit on the remaining five cases for financial gain because none was in the offing and 4) the cases were such that it is clear that her sitting on the case actually prejudiced no one.
The episode did reflect a certain lack of attention to the niceties of the law. It was a negative fact in the balance that voters had to conduct in deciding whether to support her or Linda Clifford. It was not indicative of moral bankruptcy or corruption. My guess is that whatever the judicial commission does will be, as the Ethics Board's actions were, consistent with this.
(Update: This post was composed in my hotel room in Newark at 5 in the morning CDT. I would like to think that this is why the penultimate paragraph initially had three typos, but it was probably that I was demonstrating a lack of attention to the niceties of proofreading.)