Thursday - August 3, 2017 8:59 am

WI Supreme Court justices need to recuse themselves

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Not long ago, judicial elections were rather sleepy affairs in Wisconsin. There was no big money in these races, no special interests opening their checkbooks to try to influence the outcome of the election. But not any more. Races for the Supreme Court have become a race to raise money. More money than ever before is being spent trying to elect Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, and even smaller races like the court of appeals and even circuit court judges. Contribution limits to judicial candidates have been increased, and campaign coordination between candidates and special interests is now legal. The money is flowing like water. With all these donors, we have seen an increased likelihood that some who give money will someday appear before one of the judges to whom they have donated. But amazingly, Wisconsin has no rules that force a judge to recuse him or herself when hearing a case involving a donor. Each judge is allowed to decide for themselves whether to recuse them from a case involving a donor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a call to adopt recusal standards, a plea from dozens of retired judges who lament the big money in judicial contests. It wouldn't even allow for a public hearing on the issue. It shouldn't be this way. Our judges are expected to be fair, and above the influence of big money. That is no longer the case. After the April election, the Supreme Court should reconsider the issue of recusal. If we are going to allow judicial candidates to accept all this new money, we should at least demand that they not hear cases involving those who helped them get elected.

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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