Ziegler Admits Ethics Violation - Still Doesn't Get it

Annette Ziegler has with the state Ethics Board in which she admits to having violated ethics rules, and will pay a $17,000 fine. This is an unusual settlement because unilke in most cases, Zeigler had argued that the ethics board had no jurisdiction over judicial ethics, and had asked the Supreme Court to rule, which it did recently. Normally ethics violators just pay up. By agreeing to the settlement, Ziegler avoids the hearing today which would have required her to testify.

However, it's fairly clear that Ziegler still doesn't "get it". The ethics board ruled that although she had violated the ethics rules, she never profited directly from the rulings. This was fairly clear all along, and nobody ever accused her of profiting - that's really not the point of the ethics rules. She had created an impression of impropriety by not recusing herself.  This should have been clear to a judge with the "experience" that Ziegler continually touted during the election.

Today Ziegler stated "I am gratified the Ethics Board's investigation confirmed what I have
said all along - that neither myself nor anyone in my family benefited
in any way from my decisions in these cases". I don't think that was ever in doubt, but she clearly still doesn't understand (or won't admit)  that that was not the point of any of the investigation in the first place.

Ziegler is still being investigated by the Judicial Commission. The end result of that could be any number of different punishments, ranging from censure to removing her from the bench (in which case she could no longer be a judge, including being on the Supreme Court). It is unlikely that the Judicial Commission will return a ruling before Ziegler is sworn in in August.

Throughout all of this Ziegler has not made any public appearances or statements on the investigation, and has chosen to speak through her attourney in prepared statements.  She has also chosen to keep the Judicial Commission proceedings "behind closed doors" - which she has every right to do.  However, one would think that if all of her behavior was as above board as she claims, she would welcome the light of day shining on the investigation. 

Published

May 17, 2007 - 11:27am

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