March 31, 2008

Help prevent a tragedy — II

Continued from Part I ...

Remember Jeffrey Dahmer, who committed some of the most deplorable acts that anyone is even capable of imagining? So incapable of imagining, I suspect, that if Jeffrey Dahmer hadn't committed them, and people hadn't heard about them, then probably hardly anybody would have ever imagined them themselves? That Jeffrey Dahmer, right.

Well, even Jeffrey Dahmer had a criminal defense attorney. What entitled Dahmer to a criminal defense attorney is the United States Constitution, which Burnett County conservative Republican Mike Gableman's loudest and deepest-pocketed hooters and hollerers, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, calls a "needless technicality."

Which is funny, because WMC can get away with disgorging malodorous effluent like that because the United States Constitution allows it to, because political speech is arguably the most protected speech of all. So WMC can actually deliberately vomit and expectorate on the United States Constitution whilst claiming the very protections afforded to it by the United States Constitution. How's that for dramatic irony.

Lately, Charlie Sykes and his fellow one-trick caged orangutans are making much of the nickname that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler earned when he worked for the State Public Defender 25 years ago. Sykes and Co.'s pick to replace Justice Butler, the barely coherent Mike Gableman, has for all intents and purposes made it the defining aspect of his definitively sleazy campaign.

Clyde Winter will tell you more, if you don't already know.

When many people hear that an attorney defended a child molester, they say, "Oh my god, he defended a child molester? How can anybody defend a child molester?!" But just because a lawyer defended a child molester, that doesn't mean that the lawyer defended child molestation. No, the lawyer defended the child molester's constitutional rights to a fair trial and a number of other specific protections enumerated in the United States Constitution.

Lawyers, in addition to most real humans, know what it means to "defend" the accused, or even the convicted, on appeal. They understand that even child molesters have constitutional rights. But those rights have more to do than with just defending child molesters, they also have to do with prosecuting child molesters, which is what we all want.

Furthermore, people who prosecute child molesters not only know that, but they know that the best defenders of child molesters make for the most solid and effective prosecutions of child molesters. Because a good defense lawyer makes the prosecutor work hard to prove her case. And the best prosecutors want to work hard to prove their case because they want to do good work. And the best defense lawyers make the best prosecutors do their best work.

On the other hand, the last thing prosecutors want to face is a bad defense lawyer. Because the bad lawyer forces the prosecutor to work hard too, but in those instances that hard work is not good hard work, it's annoying and frustrating hard work, and, most importantly, inefficient hard work, which makes for potentially the least effective prosecutions.

Because prosecutors have a big caseload, and they want to devote their best, hardest work to all of those cases. And they can only do their best, hardest work when a good defense lawyer forces them to. And that's what prosecutors want. Prosecutors take pride in their work, just like every other self-respecting, hard working attorney.

Nobody knows that better than Dodge County District Attorney Steven G. Bauer, who actually withdrew his support for Mike Gableman. Not only that, but DA Bauer announced in print that he wouldn't even vote for Mike Gableman. Because DA Bauer knows the score, and he knows how the system works, and he was revolted by the way that Mike Gableman and his lieutenants were misrepresenting that system, and especially distorting the role that people like DA Bauer play in that system, not just Louis Butler's former role in that system, as a public defender 25 years ago.

You may find an equally good argument against the candidacy of Mike Gableman, but I bet you you can't find a better one. And DA Bauer stated it, right out there in the public press, as forcefully and as eloquently as anyone could have. And I don't care whether DA Bauer is a conservative Republican or a card carrying member of both the ACLU and PETA. That doesn't matter one bit. Because he nailed that sucker, and what he wrote is a powerful indictment of the disgraceful campaign Mike Gableman has run, and is running, in his quest to appease his monied backers and quasi-intellectual supporters.

Think about that. When Louis Butler was a public defender 25 years ago, he earned a nickname that wasn't just complimentary and in recognition of his skills as an attorney, that nickname contained a little needling joke, because Butler was — and continues to be — held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and peers.

Because if his colleagues and peers wanted to needle Louis Butler in an uncomplimentary way, they would have needled him in private, not in public, and not even in Justice Butler's presence. Trust me on this. So really, that particular nickname, containing as it does an element of good-natured needling, is a double-plus-good compliment.

And think about that when you're considering the idiotic simian jabberings of Charlie Sykes and his pals among the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce crowd.

Not only are they missing the point by an astronomically wide margin, they're parading their fundamental ignorance for all to regard. But that's their job, and it's a free country, and everyone's entitled to make a living.

But that's not the reason Sykes and the rest are playing on Butler's nickname. They're weaselly, but they're not stupid. They're playing on it because they know that a lot of people don't quite get the substance, and the meaning, of how the nickname came about in the first place. So essentially what they're doing is exploiting people who may not know any better for political goals. That's right, they're exploiting people for their own selfish purposes.

And, I can't help thinking, a lot of these people who are exploiting other people will at the same time tell you that they're religious, and devout, and righteous, that they're followers of a man who dedicated — some will tell you gave — his life for propositions entirely at odds with the idea of exploiting other people. Think about that.

Louis Butler is one of the smartest and best judges in Wisconsin. Having recently plowed through dozens of Butler's written opinions, there is no doubt about that. And he's not just one of the smartest and best judges in Wisconsin, I'd argue he's one of the smartest and best in the country. Mike Gableman is ... well, unfortunately, Mike Gableman. Gableman's entire campaign has been premised on falsehoods and personal attacks intended to tear down the personal and professional integrity of a good man. It's clear he could only fail spectacularly on that account. And it's equally clear that that's the best he could come up with.

What is certain is that Mike Gableman has definitely earned one thing. He has earned your best efforts to get to the polls tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1. And the reason why Gableman has earned those efforts is not so much so you can vote against Gableman, although that certainly is a major consideration, given the contemptible conduct of his political campaign.

The main reason that the effort should be made is to vote for Louis Butler for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so he can return and continue the public service he has been performing for the last 15 years, which is as a judge that plays it straight down the middle, meting justice where it is warranted and required by law, and not in response to any third-party monied interests or out-of-state concerns that are shamelessly trying to outright buy our courts.

The choice could not possibly be more obvious, or simple.


William Tyroler said...

On the other hand, the last thing prosecutors want to face is a bad defense lawyer. Because the bad lawyer forces the prosecutor to work hard too, but in those instances that hard work is not good hard work, it's annoying and frustrating hard work, and, most importantly, inefficient hard work, which makes for potentially the least effective prosecutions.

A fabulous point, and quite possibly the strongest (if rarely posited) argument in favor of vigorous defense. And within the idea of effective prosecutions is the idea of reliable results, including deterrence of runaway prosecutions. Even if every prosecutor isn't exactly Mike Nifong, there is a bit of Nifong in all of us: it's only human nature to look for short-cuts, to advance personal agendas. Not always and not necessarily, but that's not the point, which is that a staunch defense acts as a bulwark against giving in to such temptations.

Display Name said...

In honor of April Fool's Day, I'm going to vote twice.

illusory tenant said...

Make sure they're both for the same guy.

Terrence Berres said...

"What entitled Dahmer to a criminal defense attorney is the United States Constitution"

See, generally, Knapp [I] 2003 WI 121.