Friday, March 18, 2011

Pinning the "Liberal Activist Judge" Label on Judge Sumi

The Warren Court
("Liberal Activist Judges")

Here are a couple of rules that guide attorney conduct when an attorney is practicing in Dane County Circuit Court.  First is a Supreme Court rule (SCR) that is part of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, the ethics code binding on every attorney practicing law in Wisconsin:

SCR 20:8.2  Judicial and legal officials
(a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Second is a Dane County Circuit Court Rule that has been adopted by the Judges of Dane County to ensure respect and decorum.  It is binding on lawyers that practice before the Dane County Circuit Court

Code of Professional Responsibility, Courtesy & Decorum for the Circuit Courts of Dane County
In order to enhance the administration of justice, this code establishes uniform standards of courtroom decorum applicable to judges, court commissioners, attorneys, court personnel and the public in Dane County Circuit Courts.

I.    Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall at all times maintain a cordial and respectful demeanor and shall be guided by a fundamental sense of integrity and fair play in all their professional activities. II.   Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall at all times be civil in their dealings with one another. All court and court related proceedings, including discovery proceedings, whether written or oral, shall be conducted with civility and respect for each of the participants.
III.  Judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks and staff shall abstain from making disparaging, demeaning or sarcastic remarks or comments about one another, and shall not engage in any conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile or obstructive.

. . .

XII.   All participants in the judicial process, whether judges, court commissioners, lawyers, clerks or staff, shall conduct themselves in a manner which demonstrates sensitivity to the necessity of preserving decorum and the integrity of the judicial process.

I occasionally spin through Ann Althouse's Blog to see what she is saying about events in Wisconsin politics.  Ms. Althouse is a self-described conservative and a law professor at the UW-Madison Law School.  Her Blog is called "Althouse."  Because she approaches her posts from a more conservative bent, she tends to draw a number of commenters on her postings who are, shall we say, excitable.  I was curious to see what her commenters were saying about Judge Sumi's decision today to enjoin publication of the union-busting budget repair bill, 2011 Act 10.  I knew I could count on Professor Althouse to have posted about it.  Here are some commenter entries this afternoon (there was lots of good discussion too):

"Do these people have an ounce of respect for the majority of people who voted in November to address the budget? Apparently not. Nice seque from the redhead ideologue pushing for partisan judges to make law when the majority confounds the progressive plan."
"There were two hours of notification, as required. And the Capitol was literally under siege by a Union mob determined to interfere with the legislators doing their jobs, which one would think might represent an "impractical" situation. But, hey, I guess when you've got a Judge in your pocket you might as well use 'em, right? "
"They went in front of this douchenozzle for the same reason the NFL players filed in Minnesota. Home field I don't know for sure.....but I bet it is left field."
"Sumi has decided that even though the open meetings law exempts special sessions which is CONSTITUTIONAL under the 4th amendment of the Wisconsin Constitution. I think that Sumi should get another pair of eyeglasses or Psychiatric help to compensate for her obvious mental disorder--Liberalism.
"Yeah Chris, seriously. You lost. No open meetings law was violated. This judge is a Democrat and wants to help out her liberal buds. The overpaid public-sector union leeches will still lose their collective rights. And again, you lost libtard. Now suffer."
After the Judge's ruling today, a number of politicians issued statements on the ruling, and as you might expect, the Dems were praising what the Judge did, and the Republicans were critical.  Here is part of one of the statements released as a press release by a politician:
"The Department of Justice plans to appeal today's motion granting a temporary restraining order enjoining the Secretary of State from publishing the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly referred to as the Budget Repair Bill. The Legislature and the Governor, not a single Dane County Circuit Court Judge, are responsible for the enactment of laws.
Decisions of the Supreme Court have made it clear that judges may not enjoin the Secretary of State from publishing an Act. Further, the Secretary of State is without discretion to refuse to publish an act because of perceived procedural irregularities or constitutional concerns. Decisions of the Supreme Court are equally clear that Acts may not be enjoined where the claim is that a rule of legislative procedure, even one as important as the Open Meetings law, has been violated."
The politician who made these statements?  Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen.  He is the attorney for the defendants in the case, for Pete's sake.  Promoting public respect for the law and the Wisconsin judiciary should be a deep and abiding duty for Wisconsin's Attorney General.  Did Van Hollen throw the stale "liberal activist judge" label at Judge Sumi?  Not explicitly.  But if you parse that language it is clearly intended to convey that message.  She is a "single Dane County . . . Judge" acting like she is "responsible for the enactment of laws." I think the Attorney General violated both the rules with which I began this blog post.  But even if he didn't, he should do his talking in briefs filed with the Court, rather than seeking to be an integral part of the Republican Party propaganda effort.  His statement and this utterly shrill one by the Brothers Fitzgerald today simply smack of frustration over how dramatically the GOP has screwed the pooch in handling the Budget Repair Bill.  I guess eventually we will see whether Judge Sumi or AG Van Hollen, the top law enforcement official in the state, has a better grasp of Wisconsin law.  The Republicans are going to be scared to death of attempting a re-do on the bill in the legislature for the reasons I discussed near the end of this post.

1 comment:

  1. Wasn't she appointed to the bench by Tommy Thompson, a Republican Governor?