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As I See It

Let someone else decide when judges should recuse themselves

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It’s time for a change on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Actually, lots has already changed when it comes to Wisconsin’s highest court. Technically, the race for a seat on the Supreme Court is non-partisan. But that has become a joke. There are clear liberal/conservative factions of the court, with almost all of the court’s rulings coming by a four to three margin. There are 4 conservatives on the court, and three liberals. The problem is that while these positions are to be non-partisan, in recent years we have seen special interest groups spending big money to get their favorite candidates elected. That way they have friends not just in the legislature, but the executive branch as well. That come to a head recently, when Supreme Court Justice David Prosser refused to recuse himself from a high-profile case. This is the case of whether Governor Scott Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with issue groups. Prosser was among those in the majority voting there were no illegal activities, and to end the probe. But Prosser also received large campaign donations from the same groups that were part of the probe. And despite calls for him to do so, he ignored calls to recuse himself. Under the current system, that decision is left to individual justices. That process should change. Wisconsin needs an outside group to remove the bias and be charged with deciding when prosecutors should not hear a case because of potential conflicts of interest. We need an impartial referee to make that decision, not someone who already has skin in the game.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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