Wisconsin’s Judicial Oversight Board dismissed a complaint against state Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky over the judge’s sarcastic comments toward one of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys – but expressed “concern” about the judge’s actions.
In 2021, Karofsky questioned Trump attorney Jim Troupis during a lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump had attempted to throw out 171,000 absentee ballots dropped in Dane and Milwaukee counties but lost in a 4-3 vote by Wisconsin’s highest court.
During the conversation at the hearings on December 12, 2020, Karofsky told Troupis:
And that you come forward today and start just consuming, throwing cheating accusations without any evidence whatsoever. What – What is America? It’s not self-government. I’m sorry, it’s self management. It is not a government of a king. And you want us to annul this election so your king stays in power. And that’s so un-American.
Ultimately, the court dismissed Trump’s lawsuit just days later.
Karofsky’s comments became the subject of a disciplinary complaint against her by Fletcher Thompson, a retired Maryland attorney who was not involved in the case but said he watched the hearings online.
The Wisconsin Judiciary Commission dismissed Thompson’s lawsuit against Karofsky in November, but added an “expression of concern” about her statements to Troupis. Both the complaint and the commission’s response were confidential, but Karofsky released documents to the Associated Press on Sunday, through a lawyer, detailing the panel’s findings.
Karofsky, who was elected just months before the trial in Trump’s case, said she recalled the atmosphere of “intimidation” that permeated the December 12, 2020, hearing.
“During the argument, as I looked out my window, armed protesters walked right outside my window and around the Capitol during the verbal altercations,” Karofsky recounted on Law&Crime’s “Objections: with Adam Klasfeld” podcast during an exclusive interview for almost a year after the procedure.
Karofksy said she relied on a police escort to reach her car safely after the procedure.
Karofsky also told the AP that while judges are required to act impartially toward litigants, the judge “must not turn a blind eye to dangerous, malicious conduct by an attorney or litigant.”
“There is no need to read the code to require judges to be as quiet as a mouse when parties argue for a coup in slow motion,” Karofsky told the press in an email.
Karofsky’s attorney, Stacie Rosenzweig, had concerns of her own about the commission. In a Feb. 7 letter also published to AP, Rosenzweig warned the committee against allowing partisan actors to “hijack the (judicial) disciplinary system to silence a judiciary that has rightly sought to make frivolous and dangerous arguments.” stop those who are undermining our democracy. ”
Rosenzweig told the commission it was setting “a dangerous precedent” and cautioned against future efforts to politicize disciplinary procedures.
“By allowing the Commission to be armed in this way, the Commission has become the plaything of those determined to undermine an independent judiciary,” she wrote.
The result is not an official reprimand or disciplinary notice.
Law&Crime reached out to Karofsky’s attorney Monday but did not receive an immediate response.