Ziegler now faces only Supreme Court punishment before joining it

Legal News Line May 17, 2007, 7:00am

Judge Annette Ziegler

For embattled Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-elect Annette Ziegler, there's now one down and one to go. The Wisconsin Ethics Board on Wednesday stated that it had settled five ethics complaints against Ziegler for a total of $5,000 and an admission plus legal costs. The complaints stem from Ziegler's actions as a District Court judge. The Board's statement said Ziegler "has acknowledged she violated the Wisconsin Ethics Code's standards of conduct." It said government officials aren't allowed to act "in matters affecting the financial interests of businesses with which they are associated." That means today's scheduled Ethics Board hearing against Ziegler, where she faced fines of up to $25,000 plus costs on five sperate charges, has been cancelled. Ziegler settlement admitted to the Ethics Board that she heard cases involving a local bank on whose board her husband served as a paid director. She's still being probed by the state Judicial Commission on similar charges that could remove her from the bench. Settling the Ethics Board charges also meant Ziegler agreed to pay the Board's total costs of $12,000 for pursuing charges against her. Ziegler had faced fines of $5,000 for each violation if convicted at a hearing. Conservative, West Bend-based Ziegler, who easily defeated Madison-based liberal attorney Linda Clifford in a controversial election early April, could face a Judicial Commission hearing in several months and, if convicted, a Supreme Court hearing to decide punishment. With one pending problem off her plate, Ziegler is now banking on a quick resolution to the second. "I'm hopeful the Judicial Commission can complete its review in a timely fashion," Ziegler told the AP Wednesday. "I am confident they will similarly find I did not benefit from any judicial decision I made, and that I did not show any bias toward any party in any case that came before me." Ziegler went to some effort before yesterday's settlement to get the Ethics Board hearing off her list, LegalNewsLine has reported. Recently she asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to end to the action against her but was turned down. The original charges were brought against Ziegler during a March campaign for Supreme Court between her and Clifford believed to have cost over $6 million.

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