By Gretchen Schuldt
The state Supreme Court's own rules contradict Chief Justice Annette K. Ziegler's contention that Interim Director of State Courts Audrey Skwierawski acts improperly when she assigns reserve judges to hear cases.
Ziegler has been on the public offensive against the court's new, less reactionary majority since it dismissed former Director of State Courts Randy Koschnick, appointed Skwierawski, and reduced Ziegler's powers by transferring some of them to a committee.
“It has come to my attention that you have been signing my reserve judge orders without my knowledge or approval,” Ziegler wrote in an email to Skwierawski obtained by the Associated Press. “You never asked me for permission. You do not have my permission. Stop. These orders are in my name. You have no lawful authority to sign them. If you have signed anything else under my name, please advise immediately.”
Supreme Court rule 70.10, however, makes clear the director of state courts does have that authority.
SCR 70.10 Director; assignments. The director of state courts shall have the responsibility and authority regarding the assignment of reserve judges and the interdistrict assignment of active judges at the circuit court level where necessary to the ordered and timely disposition of the business of the court. (Emphasis added)
A state law, §751.03, says the chief justice may assign reserve judges, but the Supreme Court rule specifically assigns that duty to the director of state courts.
State law also gives the Supreme Court the authority to delegate such tasks as it seems fit. Under state statute §751.02, "The supreme court may...designate titles, prescribe duties and fix compensation."
While Ziegler has complained bitterly about the alleged illegal and unconstitutional manner in which the majority acted, she has not publicly filed a formal challenge to their actions or to Skwierawski's appointment. Koschnick said he filed complaints with the state Judicial Commission alleging Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca F. Dallet, Jill J. Karofsky, and Janet Protasiewicz violated the state Constitution when they appointed Skwierawski as interim courts director, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Koschnick also filed a complaint against Skwierawski.
Koschnick spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the complaints the day he said he filed them, apparently violating state confidentiality rules governing Judicial Commission investigations.
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