The Supreme Court of hacks

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DISCLAIMER: I have reviewed the facts and I am no longer confident in the assertions I made in the post below. Illusory Tenant has a very comprehensive post discussing the factual inaccuracies of some of McCabe’s statements that I based my conclusion on.

There was a heated show-down today between Supreme Court Justice David Prosser and a representative of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a group which advocates campaign finance reform and has been heavily critical of the special interest-dominated State Supreme Court.

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign told the state Supreme Court during public testimony on the proposals that public confidence in the court has dropped significantly with most now believing that campaign contributions influence decisions.

Prosser fired back with a series of comments he pulled from the WDC blog and Web site, include a June post in which McCabe wrote there “is no way in hell either Prosser or Crooks should be anywhere in the room when the Supreme Court” hears a new appeal from former GOP Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen on his retrial on felony corruption charges, which an appeals court overturned.

Prosser, a former Assembly GOP leader, served as a character witness during Jensen’s trial.

McCabe was absolutely right to criticize Prosser, and the case he lays out on the blog is rather convincing.

No word yet on whether Justice Prosser plans to once again serve as a character witness for Jensen. Pertinent to this issue is the Supreme Court’s own rule, SCR 60.03(2), which states: “A judge may not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge may not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or of others or convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge may not testify voluntarily as a character witness(emphasis added).”

You couldn’t make this stuff up! How could Prosser possibly have the gall to go on the offense with that kind of obvious wrong-doing on his part? I know how. Because Prosser is a politician, not a jurist. As former Assembly Republican leader, he knows better than anyone that there’s no better defense than a good offense, especially when dealing with wonky “good government” types.

But even if Prosser did have enough tact to avoid handing out judicial favors, he and his colleagues would still continue to reward their political friends on the bench – today they made sure of it by ruling that justices do not have to recuse themselves from cases in which a party has contributed a significant amount of money to a judge’s campaign.

What a pathetic disgrace this court is.

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4 Responses to “The Supreme Court of hacks”

  1. Alec S Says:

    Great stuff, Sconz. Seems like the argument Prosser settles on is this: its not our fault no one trusts us, its small time bloggers like yours. That logic is ironclad.

    “How could Prosser possibly have the gall to go on the offense with that kind of obvious wrong-doing on his part? I know how. Because Prosser is a politician, not a jurist.”

    The question remains whether anyone can get through our system without being or becoming a politician.

  2. illusory tenant Says:

    The case [McCabe] lays out on the blog is rather convincing.

    Not really.

    Initially, Prosser was pissed that McCabe “implied” — I would have used a stronger word — Prosser would be hearing State v. Scott Jensen (2008AP000552) when it’s clear from case filings that Prosser wasn’t participating. In fact, it had been clear for months prior to McCabe’s lecturing of Prosser. McCabe didn’t have an excuse for that; instead, he tried weakly to shuffle the goalposts around.

    So on that account, at least, Prosser was justified in going after McCabe, who should have checked the record before he started criticizing Prosser for something he had nothing to do with.

  3. illusory tenant Says:

    By the way, are you sure Justice Prosser testified as a “character witness” at Scott Jensen’s 2006 trial? That’s a term of art, and if I were you I’d ensure McCabe was using it properly before taking his word for it (or anyone, for that matter).

    Furthermore, even if Prosser did testify as a character witness (and I don’t believe he did), it’s acceptable — although not discouraged — so long as the witness is properly summoned. Note the rule says “voluntarily testifies.”

    Let’s be careful out there.

  4. illusory tenant Says:

    (Not encouraged, that is.)

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