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Wood County court commissioner admits to judicial misconduct

A Wood County court commissioner recently admitted to allegations of judicial misconduct.

According to a complaint filed by the Judicial Commission in January, Kenneth Gorski violated the state’s judicial-ethics rules five times while presiding over a small claims case in 2015.

Gorski presided over the case although the plaintiff’s lawyer, Timothy Gebert, was a good friend, according to complaint. Gebert and Gorski have been close friends for decades, and while the case was pending, Gorski took a golfing trip to Ireland with Gebert and two other people, including Gorski’s son.

Gorski did not tell the defendant, who appeared pro se, about the trip, according to the complaint. Gebert also appeared before Gorski several other times, and Gorski did not recuse himself, although Gorski took regular golfing trips overseas and in Wisconsin with his son, another person and Gebert, according to the commission.

Moreover, during a hearing in the small-claims case from 2015, Gorski “lost his temper” twice, in one instance groaning and telling a defendant, “why can’t you just keep quiet when people are talking?” according to the complaint. Also, when the defendant made a comment that Gorski’s verdict was an example of corruption, Gorski groaned and said “That’s my middle name … corruption.”

The ethics rules Gorski had been alleged to have violated include a rule requiring judges to treat those who appear before them with respect and a rule requiring judges to recuse themselves when they have a personal bias involving any of the parties appearing before them.

Gorski filed a late answer to the complaint on March 25, admitting to the commission’s allegations.

On March 28, a three-judge panel of Wisconsin Court of Appeals judges concluded that there would be no fact-finding hearing in the case because Gorski had admitted to misconduct. The panel ordered Gorski and the commission to submit briefs on what discipline ought to be imposed for the misconduct. The commission’s brief is due Thursday, and Gorski’s brief is due 21 days from when the commission’s brief is received.

The commission will review the briefs then issue a recommendation for discipline, which will be reviewed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Gorski continues to work as a Wood County court commissioner and handles small-claims cases. He has been licensed to practice law in Wisconsin since 1985 and earned his law degree in 1980 from DePaul University in Chicago.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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