National Review Online yesterday posted a column by Carrie Serverino discussing the ongoing debate regarding judicial independence and recusal involving certain Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Specifically, a few groups have alleged that Justice Gableman improperly received “free” legal services from a Madison-based law firm and thus should not have heard cases pending before the Court by attorneys from that firm. But, as National Review points out, these allegations appear to be ill-founded:
To begin with, Justice Gableman did not receive “free” legal services. As Justice Gableman’s attorney, Viet Dinh, pointed out in a letter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, private litigants enter into contingency-fee agreements all the time, and “Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules provide that ‘[a] fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered.’” He goes on to explain that “A contingency fee arrangement is not a ‘gift’ proscribed by Wisconsin law. … No one who hires a lawyer on a contingency fee basis feels like they are receiving something for free from that attorney.”