Monday, January 19, 2009

Two rules petitions not to be heard April 21

The Wisconsin Court System in a January 16, 2009 press release announced
The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to proceed with hearings on two rules petitions concerning campaign contributions and recusals.
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After the Court scheduled the hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted and scheduled oral argument in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Docket No. 08-22, on Tuesday, March 3.

The following question is before the U.S. Supreme Court in Caperton:

Justice Brent Benjamin of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia refused to recuse himself from the appeal of the $50 million jury verdict in this case, even though the CEO of the lead defendant spent $3 million supporting his (justice Benjamin’s) campaign for a seat on the court--more than 60 percent of the total amount spent to support Justice Benjamin's campaign-- while preparing to appeal the verdict against his company. After winning election to the court, Justice Benjamin cast the deciding vote in the court's 3-2 decision overturning that verdict. The question presented is whether Justice Benjamin's failure to recuse himself from participation in his principal financial supporter's case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(See State justices consider recusal rules)

In re creation of rules for recusal when a party or lawyer in a case made contribution effecting a judicial campaign (08-16), and In the Matter of Amending the Rules of Judicial Conduct (08-25)