April 3, 2007

Annette Ziegler wins the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Defeating Linda Clifford. Congratulations Annette Ziegler.
The battle between Madison attorney Clifford, 58, and Ziegler, 43, was dominated by attacks on Clifford's lack of experience as a judge and allegations that Ziegler presided over cases in which she had conflicts of interest as a Washington County Circuit Court judge. Clifford faced an uphill climb from the low-turnout, three-way primary in February, where she came in a distant second with 27 percent of the vote to Ziegler's 57 percent....

The campaign was characterized by attack advertising from both sides. Clifford hammered on the conflict-of-interest allegations and charges that Ziegler was soft on sexual offenders. Ziegler highlighted Clifford's work as an immigration attorney in an ad featuring a howling wolf and horror-film-type lettering.

Clifford drew heavy support from labor unions and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party while Ziegler had a endorsements from law enforcement, fellow judges, district attorneys and Republican-affiliated groups in the non-partisan race.
Please note that I did not take sides in this race, though I did say something very critical about Ziegler on Wisconsin Public Radio that got some play in the press.


Daryl Herbert said...

One can only imagine the fevered response from the fever swamps of the left if you had said something mean about Clifford instead of Ziegler.

Aha! Ann is campaigning for the Repukes! And when she says she "did not take sides in this race," she's obviously lying to cover up her eeevil Republicanness!

Yet somehow, I doubt those comments provoked any outrage from the right at the time, or any conspiracy mongering about your true loyalties or hidden agendas.

If you want to be a party hack, Ann, the place to start is shilling for our candidates.

Maxine Weiss said...

Ziegler sounds Jewish to me.

No no no, it's probably just German.

Whew. ---Was worried for, there, for a moment.

Peace, Maxine

AlphaLiberal said...

The Clifford campaign overdid it with the "soft on sexual offenders" bit.

But Ziegler should never have won given her own inability to conduct her existing office within the rules of the court.

Sad night. I just don't understand why people find her ethics violations to be acceptable.

PeterP said...

Althouse, a political blogger and UW-Madison law professor

...wrong way round surely? Or maybe not.

As a Brit, I find this whole notion of judges, or any other law officer, being elected by popular vote utterly bizarre.

Select good candidates, scrutinise thoroughly, probe deeply then appoint the best. Decide don't vote.

But then you good people are so locked into being democratic...or is that Democrat, or Republican - which is the point.

Not non-partisan. The younger, prettier one on the Right, the older wasp-chewer on the Left. 'Twas ever thus. Has been since Reagan anyway. (What a sex-God, my women friends tell me.)

Personally, I'd always want to be judged by someone I'd want to have sex with given the chance. ("All rise!" "Yes ma'am." Will do for me.)

My vote should count! Where do I register an interest?

hdhouse said...

Ann...I read the reference article and can't agree with you more. Ms. Ziegler appears to be someone who spends an equal amount of time on CNBC as she does in the stacks.

My parents lived in Strom Thurmond's South Carolina district until their deaths. As is known, Strom was a congressman and senator for all his working life. All of it. When the Savannah River Plant (DOE) was considering some expansion and there would be a need for contractor/employee building, Strom plunked down about 5 million in cash to buy some property near the plant. When asked how he could gather up 5 million on a government salary, he just laughed. that he would have some advance knowledge due to his seniority and position that would cause him to buy up acres before the announcement was "pure speculation".

If our elected officials, senator to Wisconsin Supreme Court had some other "virtue test" than "I've looked at what I've done and I'm fine with it"...I would sure feel better about our systems.

MadisonMan said...

I just don't understand why people find her ethics violations to be acceptable.

I don't either. Maybe I should watch TV. Then I'd know what the attack ads were saying. But if someone attacks "Activist Judges" (whatever that means) and then turns around and votes for someone who flouts judicial rules....well, I'm scratching my head, and it's not from lice.

Ann Althouse said...

Why are you assuming people find it acceptable? It's more likely that they found the prospect of Linda Clifford on the court more unacceptable. What are you supposed to do? Not vote. I mean, that's what I did, but still... what if everybody did that?

Richard Dolan said...

According to the article, the Wisconsin rule here invited the looseness in application that Ziegler evidently exhibited. The comparable federal rule (28 USC 455) makes recusal mandatory when the judge has "a financial interest ... in a party to the proceeding," no matter how small. (And despite the absolute nature of the comparable federal rule, federal judges often trip over it, too.) In contrast, the Wisconsin rule seems to add a qualifier, so that an insubstantial or insignificant financial interest can be ignored. The article says that the qualifier, in turn, has been interpreted (how definitively I don't know) to adopt a $20K standard -- an interest over $20K is presumptively not insignificant.

The largest financial interest held by Ziegler mentioned in the article related to Wal-Mart, where she owned (directly or indirectly) stock worth about $100K. Compared to the capitalization of Wal-Mart (hundreds of billions, almost beyond counting); or its revenues or profits (similarly vast), there is almost no litigation that could ever come before a judge that would ever have a material financial impact on such a company. That's not an argument for ignoring an ethical rule if it clearly applies. But if that's the nature of the "ethical violation" charged against Ziegler, then it's pretty weak beer nonetheless. Small wonder that the voters weren't bowled over by it.

Anonymous said...

Why are you assuming people find it acceptable? It's more likely that they found the prospect of Linda Clifford on the court more unacceptable.

Exactly. While you may not agree with that, MM, you're a smart guy, you understand it. Don't pretend you don't.

Unknown said...

Good article, good quote from Ann, and an accurate identification of Ann by the authors of the article.

Three for three.

Similar issues were raised regarding Alito when he was nominated to the SCOTUS.

Ben Masel said...

Ann: You got at least 2 write-ins I've heard of. Not mine.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Ben. LOL.