Pubblicato in: Giustizia

Usa. La Suprema Corte del Wisconsin rigetta una petizione sui giudici.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-04-30.

Tribunale 010

Ogni stato degli Stati Uniti è dotato di una Corte Suprema, con giurisdizione sulle leggi correnti, svolgendo anche ruolo di suprema corte di appello.

Le modalità con le quali i Cittadini scelgono i loro giudici supremi varia da stato a stato. Nel Wisconsin i giudici sono eletti a suffragio universale in elezioni nominalmente non partitiche, e restano in carica per dieci anni consecutivi. Come stabilito nella Carta Costituzionale del 1841, non può essere eletto più di un giudice supremo all’anno, così da evitare subitanei mutamenti di indirizzo giuridico.

«The Wisconsin Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in Wisconsin. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over original actions, appeals from lower courts, and regulation or administration of the practice of law in Wisconsin.

The court is composed of seven justices who are elected in statewide, non-partisan elections. Each justice is elected for a ten-year term. Importantly, only one justice may be elected in any year. This avoids the sudden shifts in jurisprudence commonly seen in other state supreme courts, where the court composition can be radically shifted if two or three justices are simultaneously targeted for an electoral challenge based on their views on issues like the death penalty. In the event of a vacancy on the court, the governor has the power to appoint an individual to the vacancy, but that justice must then stand for election in the first year in which no other justice’s term expires.

After passage of a referendum on April 7, 2015, the chief justice of the court will be elected for a term of 2 years by the vote of a majority of the justices then serving on the court, although the justice so elected may decline the appointment. Previous to the change, the justice with the longest continuous service on the court served as the chief justice. Opponents of the referendum called it an attempt to remove longtime Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a member of the court’s liberal minority, while supporters called it an effort to promote democracy on the court.» [Fonte]

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Già nel 2009 era sorta la questione dei finanziamenti relativi alla campagna elettorale, che è una competizione esattamente come tutte le altre: è molto costosa.

«In 2009, the United States Supreme Court decided Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., holding 5-4 that a campaign expenditure of over $3 million by a corporate litigant to influence the election of a judge to the court that would hear its case, although legal, was an “extreme fact” that created a “probability of bias”, thus requiring the judge to be recused from hearing the case. Wisconsin had adopted a limit of $1,000 for campaign contributions to judges, but it was unclear when mandatory recusal was required. …. during its 2009-2010 term and by a 4-3 vote, the Court adopted a rule that recusal is not required based solely on any endorsement or receipt of a lawful campaign contribution from a party or entity involved in the proceeding, and that a judge does not need to seek recusal where it would be based solely on a party in the case sponsoring an independent expenditure or issue advocacy communication in favor of the judge» [Fonte]

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Il problema è stato nuovamente portato all’attenzione della Suprema Corte del Wisconsin da una petizione firmata da cinquanta giudici in pensione.

«Elected judges in Wisconsin don’t have to automatically recuse themselves from cases involving campaign donors, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday»

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«The retired judges had asked the high court to set a dollar limit that would trigger an automatic recusal for circuit, appellate judges and supreme court justices in the state»

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La differenza con le precedenti cause consiste nel fatto che questo caso avrebbe previsto un “automatismo” nella reiezione di un giudice eletto.

Anche in questa occorrenza la Suprema Corte del Wisconsin ha rigettato il ricorso.

Ma di notevole interesse è la motivazione.

«If a judge does not act with impartiality and integrity, that judge will answer to the people of Wisconsin on election day»

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La logica è stringente: essendo il giudice eletto dai Cittadini Elettori, decideranno questi se rinnovarlo o meno nel corso della prossima tornata elettorale che lo concerne.

Una volta però ammesso questo principio giuridico, esso potrebbe, forse sarebbe meglio dire “dovrebbe“, essere esteso a tutte le cariche elettive.

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È inutile nascondersi pudicamente dietro un dito. I giudici, e con essi anche quelli delle Corti Supreme, anche se non direttamente, sono espressione di una corrente di pensiero giuridico e quindi politico.

L’idea di poter avere giudici “imparziali” è una pura e semplice utopia.


The Washington Times. 2017-04-23. Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects recusal petition over campaign donations

Elected judges in Wisconsin don’t have to automatically recuse themselves from cases involving campaign donors, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting a petition from more than 50 retired judges to impose the new rule.

The retired judges had asked the high court to set a dollar limit that would trigger an automatic recusal for circuit, appellate judges and supreme court justices in the state.

But the justices rejected the petition 5-2.

“If a judge does not act with impartiality and integrity, that judge will answer to the people of Wisconsin on election day,” said Justice Rebecca Bradley, one of those who dismissed the petition.

Howard Schweber, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the issue over recusals in Wisconsin comes after several investigations into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign probing allegations of unlawful coordination.

One case, which made its way to the Supreme Court, involved a lobbying group that allegedly backed Mr. Walker’s campaign as well as some of the sitting justices.

Some activists had pushed for those justices to recuse themselves, but none did.

“Historically, Wisconsin has always had a reputation of a very clean government including very clean courts. This, by contrast, is among the most lenient ethical standards of any court in the country,” said Mr. Schweber.

Rick Esenberg, president of Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which opposed the rule change, said the justices’ ruling showed they respected residents’ First Amendment political speech rights.

“Save for extreme circumstances, we ought to trust judges to know when campaign support or opposition warrants recusal,” said Mr. Esenberg.

The issue could be brought to the U.S. Supreme Court, though Mr. Schweber said he hadn’t seen any move in that direction yet.

In a 2009 case, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., the U.S. Supreme Court held that if a state court’s conflicts of interest were severe enough, it could violate the Due Process Clause of the federal Constitution.

“One interesting question is the situation in Wisconsin … does that rise to the level of a constitutional violation? And the answer is, as so often the case, is maybe,” said Mr. Schweber.

The question over recusals and potential conflicts of interest came up during Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing last month.

But unlike other federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court is exempt from ethics rules regarding recusals and the decision on removal is left up to the justices.

“If this were to happen at the U.S. Supreme Court, the outrage would be enormous,” said Mr. Schweber. “This is one of the reasons we don’t elect Supreme Court justices.”

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