2011 was record setting for the number of attempts made to impeach or otherwise remove state judges and 2012 looks to be starting off on the same footing.
According to this morning’s Wisconsin Law Journal, a state lawmaker is circulating a petition seeking to remove Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman “because he presided over cases involving a law firm that had represented him without charging legal fees.”
A statement released by the representative on her Facebook page states that rather than impeachment (which would require a finding of “corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors”) the removal method will be a bill of address. The state’s constitution is silent as to what the criteria for such a removal, however the statement alleges Gableman violated state law, the Code of Judicial Conduct, and Supreme Court rules.
Any justice or judge may be removed from office by address of both houses of the legislature, if two-thirds of all the members elected to each house concur therein, but no removal shall be made by virtue of this section unless the justice or judge complained of is served with a copy of the charges, as the ground of address, and has had an opportunity of being heard. On the question of removal, the ayes and noes shall be entered on the journals.
This would be the second legislative attempt to remove a judge for failure to recuse in two years. Oklahoma’s HR 1024 of 2011 would have asked the state’s judicial disciplinary commission to remove District Judge Tom Lucas for his refusal to recuse from all criminal cases after a request he do so filed by the county District Attorney.