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As I See It

Judges should be held to higher standards



Wisconsin’s public records laws are among the strongest in the nation. Basically, they say that governments and elected officials have to keep records of their actions and share them with the public, except under very specific circumstances. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for the Wisconsin court system. In fact, judicial conduct remains almost entirely secret in the Badger state. Right now, complaints filed against judges are heard by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. Those complaints are never made public, unless some form of public discipline is handed down. Wisconsin’s Director of State Courts insists the public should not be able to see complaints filed against elected judges, saying “judges occupy a unique position of trust and authority in our system of government.” It seems to Bill Lueders, President of Wisconsin’s Freedom of Information Council, that for that reason our judges should be subject to high standards of openness and accountability. He argues that currently complaints against a garbage collector or bus driver are subject to a greater degree of openness in Wisconsin than complaints against an elected judge. Keep in mind, judges aren’t subject to performance evaluations, and if complaints are filed against them that don’t lead to a public rebuke, the public never knows about it. Judges should be held to at least the same standards as bus drivers, but right now that is not the case in Wisconsin.

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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