The Wisconsin Supreme Court reprimanded Justice Annette Ziegler, who recently joined the Court, for conflicts of interest in cases that she handled as a circuit judge. Ziegler committed obvious judicial ethics violations in hearing cases involving a bank on which her husband was a director. Legal and ethics experts have decried the decision as insufficient — arguing that Wisconsin judges use a double standard for their own misdeeds and that lawyers are treated more harshly in such sentences.
Ziegler was recently elected to the Court in a push by business groups to replace the once liberal leaning Court with conservatives. With this decision, she will be allowed to continue as a member of the Court for the full ten-year term despite the finding of her colleagues that the unethical conduct was obvious: “Given her knowledge of her husband’s relationships with the bank, red flags of danger were prominently flying.”
Her husband a paid director of West Bend Savings Bank, which was involved in the cases. It is hard to imagine how a judge could sit through such cases without realizing that there is something terribly wrong. Yet, the Court said that she did not directly benefit financially from the cases — a bit of a spin given the fact that the case benefited the bank and paid her husband.
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