Wisconsin is about to join Michigan as the second state to sort out the thorny issue of recusal and judicial elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Caperton v. Massey last year, according to lawyers we spoke to on Tuesday and this piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
And the two states are set to take very different strategies. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court is expected as early as Thursday to adopt a rule backed strongly by the 188-lawyer firm Godfrey & Khan. The firm represented two business lobby groups opposed to strict recusal rules for judges. As we reported in October, the League of Women Voters and other organizations put forth a proposal that would have required judges in Wisconsin to step aside any time a litigant who contributed at least $1,000 to their election campaign came before that judge. The business lobby groups opposed that rule and retained Godfrey partner Mike Wittenwyler to help draft a looser alternative. That proposal says that campaign contributions — of any amount — do not necessarily require a judge to step down from a case.
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