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High court to discuss judicial recusal proposal

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will be deciding whether to take up a proposal to adopt an objective standard for judicial recusals.

The justices are expected to discuss the proposal in an open conference starting at 9:30 a.m. on March 16 at the Supreme Court Hearing Room in the state Capitol.

The proposal, which was signed by 54 retired judges, would call for judges to step aside in a particular case when they have received more than a certain amount of campaign donations from a party.

Their recommendations would vary by type of judge. Specifically, their proposals call for the thresholds to be set at:

  • $10,000 for Supreme Court justices;
  • $2,500 for Court of Appeals judges;
  • $1,000 for circuit court judges;
  • $500 for municipal court judges.

The petitioners are also asking for a state constitutional amendment that would give the Supreme Court a way to still form a quorum when justices have been prevented by recusal requirements from ruling on a case. Their proposal calls for allowing Court of Appeals judges to be appointed as temporary substitutes.

If the justices decide to take up the proposal, the next step would be to invite the public to submit written comments and schedule a public hearing for the proposal. The justices would then vote on the change and issue an order containing the official language and laying out the court’s reasoning behind the decision.

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