Wisconsin High Court Asked to Remove Justice From Labor Law Case

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Wisconsin’s highest Court should remove one of its members from the reconsideration of a decision on legislation limiting public employees’ collective bargaining rights, a prosecutor who challenged the ruling said.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, in a request filed yesterday, said the conflict-of-interest issues he raised in the case were ignored by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Gableman was represented free of charge in an earlier ethics case by the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, which also assisted state officials in the collective bargaining lawsuit filed by Ozanne last year.

“It is clear he has not carefully considered the motion,” Ozanne said of Gableman in yesterday’s filing.

The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in June to uphold the collective bargaining law. Gableman was in the majority. A 3-3 decision would have allowed the lower court ruling that was in Ozanne’s favor to stand.

In January, Ozanne asked that the collective bargaining case be reopened after learning that Gableman had been represented for free by the law firm. Gableman issued a written decision Jan. 20 saying that “recusal is neither justified, nor warranted.”

Viet D. Dinh, a lawyer for Gableman, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment yesterday on Ozanne’s filing.

Ozanne, a Democrat whose county includes Madison, opposed the collective bargaining law signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker. The prosecutor sought to overturn it by challenging the legality of legislative proceedings that produced it.

The case is Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2011AP613-LV, Wisconsin Supreme Court (Madison).

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Hytha in San Francisco at mhytha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net