May 8, 2012

Milwaukee columnist Joel McNally propagates a myth

How disappointing — depressing, even — to find Joel McNally, who writes an otherwise quality political column in the Milwaukee Shepherd Express, propagating this complete myth that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is somehow tasked with ordering the formation of a tribunal to assess the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's complaint against Justice David Prosser:
Nearly two months after Prosser was charged, the [Wisconsin Supreme Court] still has not been able to appoint a three-judge appeals court panel to hear evidence, decide guilt and recommend any appropriate punishment.
It doesn't need to be able to: that court has nothing whatsoever to do with appointing the panel. Why would a scribe of McNally's abilities trust the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which is presumably where McNally has obtained his premise, over the plain language of the State statutes?

Here it is again:
A judicial conduct ... panel shall consist of either 3 court of appeals judges or 2 court of appeals judges and one reserve judge. Each judge may be selected from any court of appeals district including the potential selection of all judges from the same district. The chief judge of the court of appeals shall select the judges and designate which shall be presiding judge.
How much plainer could it be? Go ahead and read Wis. Stats. §§ 757.81 through 757.99 and show me where the Supreme Court has anything to do with the commission's or the panel's work until that work is complete.

You won't find it. The complaint is filed with the Supreme Court for one obvious reason: because that body has supervisory authority over the State judiciary and the filing of the complaint is mere notice that an action has commenced. The process described in the aforementioned statutes is unique; it's neither civil nor criminal and indeed the statutes themselves explicitly acknowledge the uniqueness of that process.

Nowhere is the Supreme Court given any authority over the formation of the appellate judge panel and indeed if the Supreme Court is denying the exercise of a chimerical authority then it is thwarting the clear directives of the statute whereby the investigative process is wholly given over to the judicial commission and the appeals court judges.

Nobody should ever trust newspaper or teevee reports of legal proceedings,* especially these days when so many original sources are available online. And certainly don't trust the Journal-Sentinel, which has even editorialized that the complaint against Justice Prosser  —  whose candidacy the paper endorsed last year  —  should be dropped, again, based on the demonstrably false premise that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has formative authority over the judicial conduct panel.

The Supreme Court has nothing to do until the panel has done its work and more recently we had Prosser's "conservative" ally Justice Patience Roggensack recuse herself from a case that isn't even before her court!

The present situation is one of pure lawlessness and again I ask myself, what is the point of even posting at this blog directed to a jurisdiction where conservative media drive the political narrative and now even prominent local liberal commentators are suckered by that narrative.

Well, whatevs. Have at it, y'all. And hey, there's always Rick Esenberg.

I have a couple of "unfinished business" posts I want to throw down but after that, it's either back to hiatus or I'm going to find something else to write about other than this banging-your-head-against-a-wall stuff.

* An FYI: Worst offender, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin. That dude is dreadful.


Anonymous said...

If you had not written this blog, I would never have known any of this stuff. Sometimes there is a delay between when the information is put out there and before people "take note". The recall is a good example. Please keep at it.

Brett said...

So what now? Seek a writ of mandamus against the court of appeals given the clear statutory directive? The commission seems to be fumbling here. Did you notice in Justice Roggensack's recusal writing that the commission didn't even respond to Prosser's motion for recusal against any of the justices. What's up with that? Supposing a response isn't automatically allowed, why not file a motion to allow a response? Either the commission is gearing up or it's shutting down. I'm not sure which is going on.

Brett said...

And another hiatus? I've heard one hernia is painful enough. :)

Anonymous said...

Awwwwww. Don't go.

Seriously. Don't take it personally -- they're not doing it just to drive you crazy.

Sometimes it takes a while -- especially when the side with the power and the money and the press are doing everything in their power to control what people know.

If you stop, who'll tell the stuff you know to the rest of us? Stuff it really helps to know. That we don't read anywhere else.

Which is kind of the point you make in your post -- even a good journalist got it wrong. To me, that's a reason to hope you'll keep on keeping on.

Plus, this is only going to get more interesting, I bet. Just wait and see...