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    Just what Wisconsin doesn’t need, an open mtgs rule for Sup Ct deliberations

    Just what Wisconsin doesn’t need, an open mtgs rule for Sup Ct deliberations

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson appears to have lost not only the confidence of some Justices on the Court, but the ability to lead the Court.

    The latest incident, in which (liberal) Justice Ann Walsh Bradley charged with fist raised at (conservative) Justice David Prosser, and then made a false allegation that Prosser used a chokehold on her, is a low point in the annals of judicial history, at least in recent memory.

    Abrahamson apparently has decided that she is incapable of keeping things under control, because she now is proposing the judicial equivalent of an open meetings law, in which the deliberations of the Justices would be open to the public.  As reported by JSOnline:

     Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is laying out her plan to make Supreme Court deliberations public.

    Responding to a recent physical altercation between two justices, Abrahamson is seeking to raise ebbing public confidence in the court….

    Right now, administrative conferences on the court are open to the public but deliberations are not. Legal scholars have said it might be difficult to open them as Abrahamson has proposed.

    The court will take up the proposals in Abrahamson’s memo on Sept. 15. In the memo, she says she wants to start a discussion and doesn’t necessarily endorse all the various options laid out:

    * The presumption should be that all conferences are open, with all conferences held either in the court’s hearing room or in a more private location where the conference would be streamed to the public.

    * The court should presume that conferences be open when the court considers which cases it will take.

    * Court conferences could be taped and then released later after the cases have been resolved.

    * An expert on conflict resolution could work with all of the justices individually.

    I don’t claim to have surveyed every court in the nation, but I’m not aware of any appeals court where the deliberations (as opposed to the oral arguments and court proceedings) are open to the public.

    The entire concept goes against the nature of appellate deliberations, where Justices should be able to improve their own legal analysis by testing that analysis in private with other Justices.   Making such deliberations public is the surest way to lock Justices into positions, politicize issues, and ensure that robust legal debate does not take place.

    Given the fiasco of the Wisconsin Open Meetings law, and the protests which disrupted the State Capitol, it is hard to see how making deliberations public will do anything other than inflame an already tense situation on a variety of issue which come before the Court.

    Encouraging the public and dispute resolution experts to do the Chief Justices’s job for her is not a solution, it simply is a symptom of the problem.  Abrahamson’s desire for the Court to go public with its deliberations is an admission that she cannot lead as Chief Justice.


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    She plans on embarrassing them and/or making the public get the idea the other justices (excluding Bradley, of course) are incompetent morons. The public does not understand how ideas are thrown out in meetings to see if they have merit. She will give the impression that the other justices are wasting the public’s time time with ridiculous things a first year law student would not voice. She will make fun of their ideas by using derisive statements with confrontational body language and snide remarks and hope they will not be re-elected when the time comes. It is the dims only hope and she should be careful it doesn’t backfire on her. She has an agenda for this. Only time will really tell us what it is.

    Is it me or does anyone else get the idea that no matter how high a dim goes in government, he/she is still under the specific orders of the dim party and has no allegience to the people and the government they are supposed to represent? These people are truly bought and as the past has shown easily sold too.

    Messes With Texas | September 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Public streaming, taping and Conflict Resolution Consultants sound expensive. If Justice Abrahamson is merely trying to prevent future brawls, she could do so a lot cheaper by either hiring a couple of really big bouncers to sit in on deliberations, or have the justices petition for mutual protective orders against each other requiring 100 yards distance between them. Deliberations could then be held safely by conference call.

    Yikes. Open judicial discussion is a very bad idea.

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