The state Supreme Court has reprimanded Justice Annette Ziegler. During her election campaign , it was revealed that Ziegler, then a Washington County Circuit Court judge, had presided in 11 cases in which West Bend Savings Bank was a party. Ziegler's husband served on the bank's board of directors. The court found that state law requires a judge to recuse herself from presiding in a case in which the judge's spouse is a director of a party to the proceeding, and that Ziegler's failure to do so constitutes misconduct as defined by the legislature, and that Ziegler's failure to recuse herself from the cases or obtain a waiver diminishes public confidence in the legal system.
The state Constitution provides that judges may be subject to reprimand, censure, suspension, or removal for cause in disciplinary proceedings. In deciding on a public reprimand, the court stated that any discipline less severe would not adequately convey the gravity of Ziegler's violation of a “bright-line rule” of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or foster public trust and confidence in the judicial system. The high court's decision is in keeping with earlier recommendations by the state Judicial Commission, and a judicial conduct panel that a reprimand was appropriate punishment for the misconduct.