How the justices see it

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court justices divide sharply on the recusal issue. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Patrick Crooks have sought stricter standards, while Justices David Prosser, Patience Roggensack, Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman have voted to let judges take part in cases involving campaign supporters and against allowing a court majority to force a justice’s removal.

David Prosser

“Because the preservation of the court as an institution is more important than any case or any member of the court, I believe we must reject the notion that we possess the power to prevent each other from participating in individual cases.”

— Feb. 11, 2010 opinion in State v. Allen


Patrick Crooks

“Amending the statute to include a true objective standard would ensure that when a recusal motion is brought based on a judge’s having received campaign contributions, the motion would be evaluated under an objective test rather than the judge’s subjective determination.”

— Sept. 16, 2010 testimony to a Legislative Council committee


Patience Roggensack

“It is the fundamental right of each elector to cast an effective vote for the office of judge. When an unbiased judge is removed from hearing a case or cases by the operation of recusal rules, the recusal defeats the votes of the electorate that were cast for that unbiased judge.”

— Sept. 7, 2010 testimony to a Legislative Council committee


Shirley Abrahamson

“I am disappointed that my colleagues on the Supreme Court do not come back to the table to reconsider amending the Code of Judicial Conduct in light of (recent developments regarding recusal). … The time has come to beef up the safeguards that keep our justice system secure.”

— Sept. 16, 2010 testimony to a Legislative Council committee


Annette Ziegler

“The writings of Chief Justice Abrahamson and Justice Crooks (would potentially allow) an attack on virtually any justice for any reason and allow litigants to ‘pick their court’ by filing recusal motions against certain justices and not others.”

— Feb. 11, 2010 opinion in State v. Allen


Ann Walsh Bradley

“If this court is unwilling or unable to keep its own house in order, perhaps it will require action by others to step in and assist in maintaining the integrity of the court and preserving the public trust and confidence that Wisconsin judges will be impartial.”

— July 7, 2010 dissent to Supreme Court’s revision of its recusal rules


Michael Gableman

“As with the U.S. Supreme Court, (in Wisconsin) there is no one to replace a justice on our court who recuses himself or herself from a case. A justice simply should not withdraw from a case because of ‘partisan demands, public clamor or considerations or personal popularity or notoriety.’ ”

— Jan. 20, 2012 order rejecting recusal requests

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