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    Wisconsin's New Code Governing Judicial Elections

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a new rule, effective Jan. 1, 2005, to guide the campaign activity of judges and candidates for judicial offices. Key parts of the new rule follow.

    Shirley Abrahamson

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Wisconsin's New Code Governing Judicial Elections

The Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a new rule, effective Jan. 1, 2005, to guide the campaign activity of judges and candidates for judicial offices.15 Key parts of the new rule follow.

Campaign Finance

1) Judges, judges-elect, and nonincumbent candidates for judicial office are prohibited from personally soliciting or accepting campaign contributions.

2) Campaign committees may solicit and accept lawful contributions to judicial campaigns from lawyers and other contributors. Contributions may not knowingly be solicited or accepted from litigants with matters before the court to which election is sought.

3) No restrictions are placed on membership on campaign committees or the choice of campaign consultants or managers.

4) No special rule is imposed on disqualification or recusal.

5) No new rule sets the timing of judicial campaign fundraising.

6) No special rule governs the use of judicial campaign funds.

Campaign Content

1) The rules prohibit campaign rhetoric that commits or appears to commit a candidate for judicial office to a decision with respect to particular cases, controversies, or issues likely to come before the court. Campaign rhetoric concerning court rules or administrative practices and policies is not restricted.

2) The rules governing judicial elections explicitly prohibit misrepresentations by candidates, as well as rhetoric that is knowingly misleading or knowingly likely to confuse the electorate with respect to the proper role of judges and lawyers in the American adversary system.

3) No special rule controls campaign speech about decisions of a sitting judge or decisions of an appellate court.

Other Political Activities

Judges, candidates for judicial office (including those seeking appointment to the bench), and judges-elect are prohibited from membership in a political party during the term of office or while a candidate or judge-elect; office-holding or leadership in a political party during the term of office or while a candidate or judge-elect; and active participation in the affairs of a political party during the term of office or while a candidate. These prohibitions do not apply to an individual who is a candidate for appointment or election to the bench while holding a public office that requires him or her to have a partisan political affiliation.




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