Levi Hubbell (1808-1876)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1848-1853)
Chief Justice (1851)
Levi Hubbell was the only Wisconsin judge to face an impeachment trial.
Levi Hubbell was born April 15, 1808, in upstate New York. He graduated from Union College and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1827. Hubbell was the adjutant general of New York and a member of the state Assembly. He also was editor of a New York newspaper, The Ontario Messenger.
In the early 1840s, Hubbell moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and joined a private law firm. In the first judicial election after Wisconsin became a state in 1848, Hubbell was elected circuit judge for the 2nd Judicial Circuit. Pursuant to the state constitution, he joined the four other circuit judges to form the first Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1851, he became the chief justice of this early court. When a separate Supreme Court was organized in 1853, Hubbell lost the Democratic nomination to the new court and resumed his position as a circuit judge.
In 1853, his opponents, led by Edward G. Ryan, an influential Milwaukee attorney who later became the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, sought to impeach Hubbell for judicial misconduct.
In a long, highly publicized trial, Ryan accused Hubbell of accepting bribes and hearing cases in circuit court in which he had financial interests. Although Hubbell was acquitted, his reputation was tarnished. He resigned as a circuit judge, stating that the salary of $1,500 a year was too low.
In 1863, Hubbell was elected to the state Assembly and served one year. In 1871, he was appointed the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and served until 1875. He resigned under accusations of misconduct in a government patronage scandal that received national attention. He resumed his law practice in Milwaukee.
Hubbell died on December 8, 1876.