Judicial Ethics and Responsibility Issue Advocacy 2007
In 2007, Greater Wisconsin Committee was actively involved in researching the judicial record of Judge Annette Ziegler. Through our extensive research efforts, we found a troubling pattern of conflicts of interests. We also found numerous cases involving sexual assault of children where Ziegler gave the defendants unusually light sentences.
Greater Wisconsin Committee ran television ads educating Wisconsinites on these issues and encouraging people to contact Annette Ziegler to voice their opinions.
Justice-elect Annette Ziegler agreed in May 2007 to pay $5,000 and the state Ethics Board's legal costs to settle a complaint the agency filed against her over cases she heard in her Washington County court room involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.
The State Supreme Court issued a public reprimand to Justice Ziegler in May 2008, finding that her failure to recuse herself in 11 cases constituted "serious and willful" misconduct. It was the first time in state history a sitting justice had been reprimanded by the court.
Judicial Ethics and Responsibility Issue Advocacy 2008
In 2008, Greater Wisconsin Committee ran an extensive statewide issue campaign continuing our issue work in the area of judicial issues.
Through our research we found repeated disturbing circumstances in which Judge Michael Gableman engaged in highly questionable ethical behavior related to political contributions and fundraising.
We also examined Gableman’s record as a judge and found an astonishing number of cases demonstrating Gableman’s consistent poor performance as a prosecutor and judge. We ran five different television spots in each of the states major media markets over a period of six weeks, using messages developed through our research and polling.
These issue ads urged citizens to contact Michael Gableman about his performance as a judge, as well as calling on him to hold himself to higher ethical standards.
A complaint was filed in July 2008 with the state Office of Lawyer Regulation, requesting a formal investigation of potential professional misconduct by Judge Gableman, for allegedly making political fundraising calls from his state office and telephone.
Another complaint in March 2008 asked the state Judicial Commission to investigate whether a commercial from his campaign violated the judicial code of conduct. Both investigations remain open.