March 1, 2008

Gableman's Brown-out

Louis Butler provided the deciding vote to overturn a sexual predator finding by the circuit court resulting in the release of the defendant into Milwaukee County. — Michael Gableman
According to this press release, One Wisconsin Now is set to file a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission over Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman's continuing portrayal of State v. Brown, a State Supreme Court opinion in which Justice Louis Butler joined the majority.

The Capital Times would appear to support it.

OWN suggests Gableman's description of the case runs contrary to a Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule which reads in part, "A candidate for a judicial office shall not ... misrepresent ... [a] fact concerning the candidate or an opponent."

I'm assuming the foregoing is supposed to apply to Gableman's claim of Butler's vote in Brown "resulting in the release of the defendant into Milwaukee County." Richard A. Brown is still in custody, and not even in Milwaukee County. He could die in custody tomorrow, for all we know, and never make it to town.

It's a fine point but the result Gableman describes hasn't occurred. In that sense it is a misrepresentation of a fact. I would go even further to say that Gableman doesn't know what's going to happen to Brown, nor where and how his supervised released will be administered.

Unless Gableman is seeking to add soothsayer to mindreader, among his catalog of remarkable propensities.

The other part of the Rule allegedly violated is quite a bit squishier: "A candidate for judicial office should not ... make statements that are likely to confuse the public with respect to the proper role of judges and lawyers in the American adversary system."

He shouldn't, but he may.

That provision is practically impossible to enforce. Statements that arguably fall within its purview can only be corrected with other statements. And even then, there may be confusing statements made in multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns vs. some obscure blogger with half a dozen readers.

Presumably the portion of Gableman's claim that runs afoul here is "Louis Butler provided the deciding vote." Gableman has no idea how the court's deliberations in reaching the Brown result proceeded; they take place in private. But it's also difficult to say whether Gableman's statement had the effect of confusing the public. Maybe the public was already confused.

There's little doubt this case, and this language, was selected by the Gableman campaign to inflame, if not confuse, the public. On the other hand, anybody strolling around Water St. and E. Juneau Ave. of a mild Friday evening wouldn't notice one extra sex offender anyway.


capper said...

...some obscure blogger with half a dozen readers.

I would presume that you are referring to yourself, as that young Mr. Surly has two readers, himself and Mommie Dearest.

However, I would like to ask you for pointers on how to raise my readership. For you see, my dear mother passed on, so now I only have one reader.

illusory tenant said...

First of all, my condolences on the loss of your mother. I trust that was not a very recent occurrence.

The only thing that has increased my readership, as far as I can tell, is once titling a post, "I love kiddy porn." (It was about a decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals involving the possession of child pornography.)

But I don't offer that as a pointer. In other words, I got nothin'.