Friday, March 30, 2007

Only One Wisconsin Now but so much silliness

Some one could work full time responding to the inanity of the stuff they put out at One Wisconsin Now. The latest is an attack on Annette Ziegler for representing W.R. Grace in asbestos cases. Did you know she did it in 92.37% of the cases in which she appeared on the pleadings in state and federal courts? And, although we know nothing about the merits of those particular cases, the company has been accused of doing bad things in other contexts.

First, the percentage is a bit misleading. Asbestos cases generally involve a large number of plaintiffs who think that they may have been exposed to asbestos and that it may be causing current health problems suing an even larger number of defendants who may or may not have made asbestos to which the plaintiff was exposed. It is high volume work. If you looked at my current caseload, "most" of the cases are asbestos suits, even though my client never made anything with asbestos in it and I spend virtually no time on those matters. We got on some list that circulates among plaintiffs' lawyers and we keep getting sued and dismissed. The point is that, if you do any asbestos work, it is going to involve an awful lot of cases.

But I suppose that W.R. Grace was a more active defendant. A lot of companies used asbestos. Let's assume that Annette Ziegler spent almost all of her time on those cases. (This could explain why she became a judge; they are boring.) Apparently One Wisconsin thinks that this means these companies are not entitled to a lawyer. That would be a dangerous thing to assume because there has been substantial litigation abuse by lawyers representing plaintiffs in asbestos cases. It took defense lawyers to find that.

Even worse, One Wisconsin would presumably argue that no criminal defense lawyer should ever be appointed to the bench. They represent a lot of really bad people. It's kind of hard to avoid; criminal defendants being what they are.

Or maybe One Wisconsin thinks that no one is worse than a corporation. In that case, it may want to a close look at the client base of Godfrey & Kahn, Linda Clifford's law firm. It consists largely of corporations and rich people. (They tend to be the only ones who can afford firms like that.) The firm describes it's practice as "predominantly business-oriented." I happen to think that's just fine, but perhaps One Wisconsin should alert the people.

The irony, of course, is that Annette Ziegler, as a young associate, had little to do or say about who her firm's clients were and which of them she worked for. Representing asbestos defendants is a good and necessary thing as is representing people who are accused of crime. Dumping on lawyers for the clients they keep is neither.

(NB: And, yeah, I think that the Ziegler commercial taking a shot at Linda Clifford for being an "immigration lawyer" is just as unenlightening.)


Anonymous said...

Rick - I still want to know how a restraintist judge (as you call them) would contruct the constitution to make it permissable for a judge (Ziegler) to violate the rules that are meant to assure people of a fair judicial system?

Ziegler is applying for the job and we should know what she has done. I've read a number press releases from One Wisconsin Now and have found them to be very good.

I suppose it bothers you not to be on the right side of this issue so you want to shoot the messenger.

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon - Since I don't know who you are, I don't know if you have asked this before or read this blog but: How many times do I have to say that I do not think it is "permissable" for a judge to ignore applicable rules and I have repeatedly said that, based on what we know, Judge Ziegler was wrong in, at least, the nondefaulted West Bend cases. As far as I know, there were two such cases. She definitely should have disclosed or recused in those cases and probably even recused (there being no one to disclose to) in the defaulted cases. I have not criticized One Wisconsin for saying so.

But they have said a lot more than that and some of those larger claims are worth criticizing. Because Judge Ziegler did not follow the rules in these West Bend cases does not mean that any thing further that anyone says about her must be correct.

I am unaware of any response to my criticisms. That may be because, you know, who cares what I say, but I am unaware of any response that could be made.

One Wisconsin's "statistical analysis" does not suggest that she improperly favored West Bend and attacking her because she represented an asbestos defendant is silly.

Anonymous said...

So we agree that Ziegler is not a restraintist judge as you would like to see in the Supreme Court. Does this mean that you do not support either candidate?

I think it's over 200 cases revealed now with Ziegler conflicts. You're an intelligent man, you know that is just the tip of the ice berg.

I do not know the people of One Wisconsin Now, but I think they are doing us all a terrific service. Personally, I hope they continue the role their playing even after the election. Judicial corruption is something that should be stamped out immediatedly. (The German Justice ministry excuse was that it seemed like small things at first)

You seem to be well intentioned but are caught up in win/lose, instead of good/bad, right/wrong.

xoff said...

I suspect it may be Ziegler's insistence on calling Clifford an immigration lawyer that triggered the asbestos lawyer description. Lesson: Don't play with fire unless you're wearing an asbestos suit.