March 6, 2008

Gableman's distinguished service

There was an interesting editorial the other day in the Dunn County News dealing with the Butler/Gableman campaign, and in particular criticisms leveled at Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Butler by challenger Michael Gableman and his surrogates and supporters. The editorialist(s) write:
Criticism of Butler’s vote on a certain case is only valid if a critic makes a legal argument that Butler applied the law incorrectly. It is not valid to complain that his vote did not produce the result the critic preferred.
That's a fair assessment. Gableman has been making these sorts of charges against Butler at least since the two appeared for an online debate in January.

During it, Gableman repeatedly and baselessly derided Butler for grounding judicial opinions in the latter's "personal sympathies or feelings." Even the more sensible Butler critics, such as Marquette Law School's Rick Esenberg, will tell you that the results Gableman has in mind are defensible according to legal rationales. But Gableman's foolish and insulting characterizations are not.

The State Bar is hosting a formal debate between the candidates in Madison on March 25, and I sincerely hope someone gets up and expressly challenges Gableman on his evidence-free assertions. If Gableman is any kind of judge at all, he would never let a lawyer get away with comparable claims during, for example, a trial. And this campaign is essentially Gableman's own trial.

So somebody please put him on cross (without putting him on a cross; that only feeds the conservative persecution complex).

Taking judicial attendance

Meanwhile, the diligent investigators at One Wisconsin Now have uncovered more fascinating tidbits pursuant to what they call "Gableman's Suspicious Appointment" to his current Burnett County judgeship. The appointment, which was made by former Republican Governor Scott McCallum contrary to the procedures set in place by the governor's own executive order, has since been defended by Gableman in terms of McCallum's appreciation for the judge's "service" on a couple of statewide committees.

OWN obtained the minutes of one of them, the Wisconsin Judicial Council, and it turns out that of seven monthly meetings held between November 16, 2001, and May 17, 2002, Gableman only managed to turn up at two of them.

It would appear that Gableman's service, in this case, was distinguished primarily by his remarkable absence from it.

Quips blogger coldH20, "I guess he was Albert Einstein & Steven Hawking during those two meetings." Well, not exactly. Apart from once seconding someone's else's motion, the only other notable reference to Gableman in the 30 pages of meeting minutes concerns his request to be appointed to one of the Council's committees.

One would hope there was more to Gableman's involvement with the Council than that — he modestly describes himself as a "past member" at his campaign website — but OWN's evidence doesn't point to anything particularly distinguished about it.

So, scratch that "service" as one of the reasons Gableman finds himself on the county circuit court bench. And add it to the reasons why he shouldn't be elected to the State Supreme Court.

eta: Brazen Maverick spots a Gableman spot.

[Please visit the iT Butler/Gableman archive.]

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