Cudahy's Municipal Court judge, who has allowed more than 1,000 cases to backlog and indicated he would let some sit idle "until hell freezes over," was charged Monday with judicial misconduct.
A complaint was filed by the state Judicial Commission, which is asking the state Supreme Court to take unspecified disciplinary action against the judge, John Zodrow.
Zodrow, an attorney who has held the part-time, elected post since 1999, could not be reached for comment.
Cudahy Municipal Court estimates that 3,500 cases are awaiting a decision by Zodrow, according to the complaint.
He told the commission he thinks 1,000 to 1,500 cases are awaiting action, some dating back to 2002 and perhaps a few dating back earlier, the complaint says.
Zodrow also is accused of refusing for the past six months to adjudicate parking tickets because the Police Department cut off the court's access to the Police Department computer system.
The complaint quotes Zodrow as saying he puts parking stipulation cases in a box and "they can sit and collect dust until hell freezes over for all I care."
The inaction could be costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A review done in November 2008 by the Milwaukee accounting firm formerly known as Virchow Krause & Co. found more than $800,000 in fines outstanding.
Of that amount, more than $300,000 was attributed to cases that had not been decided by Zodrow. The rest of the fines were not due to the case backload and were from forfeitures ordered by the court but not yet collected, according to the analysis, which cited multiple reasons including offenders' refusal to pay.
In previous interviews, Zodrow has said he has less clerical support than other municipal courts.
Ald. Joseph Mikolajczak said he wants residents assured that the backlog will be eliminated.
"Eight hundred thousand dollars, in this economy and in any city's budget, would be a big boost in the arm," he said.
James Alexander, executive director of the Judicial Commission, said a panel of three appellate judges will preside over a trial, in which the commission will detail the charges and Zodrow will respond.
The panel will recommend to the Supreme Court what action should be taken.
The commission on average has filed only one misconduct complaint per year against a judge, Alexander said.
Recent cases involving Supreme Court Justices Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman have been high profile.
In May, the Supreme Court, for the first time, disciplined one of its own by reprimanding Ziegler. She had presided over 11 cases involving West Bend Savings Bank, where her husband, J.J. Ziegler, earns $20,000 a year as a director, when she was a Washington County circuit judge.
On Nov. 12, a three-judge panel recommended that the Supreme Court dismiss a complaint against Gableman that alleges he lied in a campaign ad last year.JSOnline.com Read the Judicial Commission's complaint against Judge Zodrow and an accounting review of Cudahy's court fines at www.jsonline.com/Milwaukee.
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