Following recent complaints against members of the state Supreme Court, a Legislative Council study committee has been formed to examine whether Wisconsin’s laws for judicial recusal and discipline are strong enough.
State Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), who chairs the panel, says members are trying to figure out whether additional guidelines are needed in helping judges determine if a conflict of interest is present in a case, which would require them to step aside. The committee is also examining if sufficient measures are in place to properly determine if judicial codes of conduct have been violated.
The panel recently heard testimony from members of the Supreme Court on the handling of an ethics complaint against Justice Michael Gableman over a campaign ad he ran against his opponent. The high court split over whether to take further action, leaving many to question if the currently established rules can effectively enforce ethics rules. Hebl says that doesn’t mean the system is necessarily broken though and it would be premature to say the situation needs corrective action.
The committee plans to hold several more public hearings on the topic, which Hebl says will help determine if changes are warranted.