State Supreme Court Delays Ethics Revision Committee


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided to delay its plan to appoint a committee to review and revise its current code of judicial ethics.

After a contentious open conference debate yesterday, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson agreed to the delay proposed by Justice David Prosser and the three other conservative justices on the court. Prosser says the court should review the code on its own before appointing a committee. He also disagrees with Abrahamson’s plan to not include any of the justices on the proposed review committee.

“You want to put on the committee people from the Judicial Commission, past and present. You don’t want to put any members of the Supreme Court on, and it seems to me, it’s members of the Supreme Court who are the target of a lot of this stuff. I mean, come on!”

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But Chief Justice Abrahamson says her proposal for a review is a direct response to letters from a state association of judges and from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The letters urge the court to follow the lead of 27 other states that have already updated their ethics code to reflect a model approved by the American Bar Association.

“To the extent you think anything here is personal – I don’t know what it is. There’s a lot in the code and I think it needs revision. The Judicial Commission thinks it needs revision – thinks it needs a total look-see. I’m not binding the court to anything.”

Wisconsin’s Judicial Code has not been updated since 1997. Chief Justice Abrahamson first proposed the review process in 2009, but the conservative majority on the court blocked that plan the following year.