One important, but perhaps underreported, development in our legal world is the work of the Legislature's Special Committee on Judicial Discipline and Recusal. The committee grew out of a request from Justice Patrick Crooks for the legislature to consider amendments to statutes governing judicial discipline and disqualification. Both issues have been hot button items in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the wake of hotly contested and exceedingly well financed campaigns for seats on the Court in the 2007 and 2008 election cycles. The committee, consisting of legislators and public members, is charged with studying both issues and, if appropriate, make recommendations to the legislature.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of being one of nine invited guests to testify before the Committee. Four of the nine witnesses were sitting Justices on the Court - Chief Justice Abrahamson and Justices Bradley, Crooks and Roggensack. The hearing can be viewed here. I am the last (or as I would prefer to say "clean up") witness.
Yesterday's hearing had to do with recusal although some of the speakers addressed matters of discipline, largely addressing issues concerning the deadlock in the Gableman matter and how that might be avoided in the future. Much of the discussion on recusal centered on whether the legislature should adopt an objective standard (presumably other than, as I pointed out, the one announced in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co.), how that standard should be enforced and what it should be.
More to follow.