Research: Materials on 1853 Impeachment of Judge Levi Hubbell

In 1853, Levi Hubbell, Judge of Wisconsin’s Second Circuit Court and Associate Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, became the first—and still only—judge in Wisconsin history to have articles of impeachment filed against him by the Wisconsin State Assembly. A total of 11 articles with 70 specifications were filed against Judge Hubbell, containing a range of allegations, including taking a bribe; imposing criminal sentences that were less than allowed by law; presiding in cases in which he had a direct financial stake; presiding in cases in which he had previously acted as an attorney; taking money paid into the court for his personal use; and giving legal advice on suits that were likely to come or were already pending before him, among others. After a month-long trial in the State Senate, described by one historian as a “family quarrel out of control,” Judge Hubbell was acquitted of all charges.

Below are helpful primary and secondary sources related to the impeachment proceedings against Judge Hubbell:

Primary Sources

Report of the Committee of investigation in Relation to the Charges Preferred by Wm. K. Wilson Against Levi Hubbell, Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. Available online at HathiTrust.

Articles of Impeachment Against Levi Hubbell, with his Answer, and the Rules of the Court for the Trial of Impeachments. Available online at HathiTrust.

Trial of Impeachment of Levi Hubbell by the Senate of the State of Wisconsin, June 1853, Reported by T. C. Leland. Available online at HathiTrust.

Journal of the Court for the Trial of Impeachments, State of Wisconsin vs. Levi Hubbell (1853). Available online through the University of Wisconsin Law School Digital Repository. (Permission granted by the William S. Hein Company to make this resource freely available via the University of Wisconsin Law School Digital Repository.)

Secondary Sources

John Bell Sanborn, The Impeachment of Levi Hubbell (Wisconsin Historical Society 1906). Available online at HathiTrust.

Marilyn Grant, Judge Levi Hubbell: A Man Impeached (Wisconsin Magazine of History 1980). Available online at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Ellen Langill, Levi Hubbell and the Wisconsin Judiciary: A Dilemma in Legal Ethics and Non-Partisan Judicial Elections (Marquette Law Review 1998). Available online at the Marquette Law Review.