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Vol. 85, No. 8, August 2012
Wisconsin Supreme Court Lacks Prestige
The prestige of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is in free fall as a result of the Justice Prosser-Justice Bradley fracas. Criminal charges did not result because of partisan views of the facts given by six of the seven members of the court.
Ethics charges will likely never result in a finding of an ethics violation. But, if an ethics charge is sustained, the Judicial Commission will also suffer the same free fall in prestige regardless by whom or how the hearing body is created, because Wisconsin citizens will suspect the hearing body of being partisan.
The only recovery to full standing of prestige is for the chief justice to assert her authority as chief justice and call a joint press conference at which all seven justices will assume responsibility for their role – or lack thereof – in the Justice Bradley-Justice Prosser fracas or its aftermath.
All seven justices will acknowledge this because six of the seven justices are witnesses to the fracas, and because only the supreme court may impose ethical sanctions on supreme court members. There is no impartial mechanism for imposing sanctions on anyone found to be in violation of supreme court rules for judges. The seven justices must assure Wisconsin citizens that from now on they will all act as grownups to the best of their ability while transacting the business of the supreme court pursuant to the authority given to them by Wisconsin citizens. The seven justices must further vow never again to be as great an embarrassment as they were in the Justice Bradley-Justice Prosser fracas.
Donald J. Harman, La Crosse
Fairly Dividing Assets in Divorce
Thank you to the Wisconsin Lawyer editorial board for publishing my article "Valuing Retirement Benefits in Divorce" (June 2012). Hopefully, this information will result in more fair division of assets among those who endure the pain of getting divorced in Wisconsin. In my experience with this area of law, I have seen many cases in which valuations have been done incorrectly, giving results that were grossly unfair to one or the other of the divorcing parties. I hope this article will bring enough enlightenment to attorneys, judges, mediators, and others involved with these cases that incorrect valuations will become a much rarer occurrence in our state.
In closing, it is evident from the quality of your magazine that you employ high standards of excellence in producing the Wisconsin Lawyer.
Scott L. Dennison, Mauston