Racine County judge suspended without pay; SCOWIS cites 'obviously unethical' behavior

MADISON — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a Racine County judge for five days without pay, citing "concerning" and "obviously unethical" behavior.

The unanimous court in an unsigned order Tuesday, May 21 said that Racine County Judge Michael Piontek's judicial misconduct in two cases from 2014 warranted the suspension.

In one case, Piontek called a prosecutor without notifying the defense attorney. In the phone call, Piontek said that any plea negotiation should involve the defendant being convicted of a felony and those involved in "scams like this" need to be stopped.

The Supreme Court says Piontek appeared to only admit his "obviously unethical" wrongdoing after he was caught.

In the case, Piontek did an independent internet investigation and relied on incorrect information at sentencing. The Supreme Court calls it "clearly improper" to conduct the research and not give the defendant's attorney a chance to respond.