Legal Ethics

Paper Says Wis. Supreme Court Justice Voted on Cases of Law Firm That Represented Him for Free

Updated: Represented for free by Michael Best & Friedrich in a legal ethics matter, a Wisconsin supreme court justice then helped decide cases in which a party was represented by the same law firm, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In one of those cases, State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman arguably cast the deciding vote in a 4-3 ruling that eliminated collective bargaining for most public employees, according to the newspaper.

While determining whether a judge should step down from hearing a case due to an actual or perceived conflict of interest is a judgment call, two law professors told the newspaper that they think Gableman shouldn’t participate in cases involving Michael Best.

The justice didn’t response to the Journal Sentinel’s request for comment.

The legal ethics case against Gableman went nowhere after the supreme court split 3-3 in June 2010 on whether he had lied in a campaign ad.

The Associated Press reports that a state lawmaker and a government watchdog group are asking the Judicial Commission to look into whether the conduct reported in the Journal Sentinel’s story violates ethics rules for judges.

An earlier post provides more details about the previous ethics case in which Michael Best represented Gableman:

Wis. Justice Sees Politics Behind Ethics Complaint Over his Election Ad

Updated at 2:13 p.m. to include Associated Press information.

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