An advocate for limits on campaign contributions to judges and for public financing in judicial elections will take the oath of office for the Washington Supreme Court next month.
Lawyer and former state appeals court judge Charlie Wiggins defeated incumbent Justice Richard Sanders in a razor-thin victory in November; when Wiggins was certified the winner, he captured only 50.34 percent of the vote, according to a profile of the jurist in the Kitsap Sun.
“You can’t peg him as an activist or nonactivist judge, or a liberal or conservative,” said University of Washington law professor Bill Anderson. “I don’t think he’ll blaze any trails in any direction. I think he’ll just be a professional judge. Consistent, honorable, objective.”
Wiggins wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Caperton v. Massey, on behalf of 27 former Supreme Court justices from 19 states.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for a West Virginia Supreme Court justice to hear a case involving the financial interests of a major donor to his election campaign, and it required the justice to disqualify himself.
According to Wiggins’ campaign website, he argued in the amicus brief that the new West Virginia justice’s ability to be impartial was compromised, and that a justice should not sit on a case involving a company that donated money to his or her campaign.