Current and Former Justices Discuss Judicial Turmoil

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been in the news lately, not for its opinions, but for its inner workings and interpersonal conflicts. Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Janine Geske and Jon Wilcox were recent guests on Wisconsin Eye’s Legally Speaking, where they offered their opinions on many issues facing the courts. Current Justice Michael Gableman published an article in the latest issue of Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s Wisconsin Interest providing his opinions on many of the same issues.

The first subject broached by the former justices was the Judicial Commission’s decision-making process generally and as it relates to the recent charges filed against current Justice David Prosser. Both former justices expressed their concerns about how the existing Commission processes will play out when a sitting justice is the subject of investigation.

Next, the former justices discussed the allegations that Justice Gableman has a conflict of interest when the firm that represented him in the past appears before the court. Geske said she assumed there would be a complaint filed with the Judicial Commission in the future. Wilcox agreed, lamenting that the justices are operating in a “gotcha world.”

The interview also included a discussion of the court’s recent decision to limit open judicial conferences. Wilcox indicated he respected the court’s judgment in closing the conferences, while Geske disagreed expressing her disappointment in the court’s decision.

The former justices touched on the topics of court management, the legislative effort to amend the Chief Justice selection process, and the funding and propriety of judicial elections.

Throughout the interview, both former justices expressed concern about the public perception of the court, and expressed their desires that the court move forward and work to improve its reputation in the eye of the public.

Sitting Justice Michael Gableman addressed many of the same issues as were discussed in the Legally Speaking interview in a recent piece he authored for the latest issue of Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s Wisconsin Interest.

The Legally Speaking video is available from Wisconsin Eye. The article by Justice Gableman is available on the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s website.

This article originally appeared on the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council’s blog.