March 16, 2008

The lamest Gableman defense yet

An intrepid soul has ventured bravely forth in defense of Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman's freshly minted television ad which, as has been already observed, distorts reality in several decidedly reprehensible manners.

The said brave soul, Republican consultant Brian Fraley, helpfully informs us that "Louis Butler WAS, by choice, a public defender for many years and it looks like he did help a few scumbags get off."

Yes, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler was a public defender 20 years ago. Thanks for that blinding glimpse of the obvious, and also for the absurd suggestion that there's something wrong with being one (the right to criminal defense counsel is explicitly guaranteed by the United States Constitution).

So Fraley thinks "it looks like" Louis Butler had some success as an attorney. Let's hope he did! I'm not aware of anyone who attended law school with a view to being a failure.

But does Fraley have any examples? Well, no. Only the so-called example contained in Gableman's ad, a case Butler had relatively little to do with. Butler was not even the defendant's lawyer during the initial proceedings. Butler filed an appeal of the original conviction, which was his job at the time, and won on a question of whether some evidence was legally admissible at trial.

However, Butler's efforts were ultimately for naught, because although the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed the evidence in question was tainted, it found its effect on the jury was not prejudicial, and therefore upheld Reuben Lee Mitchell's conviction. That Mitchell served his initial sentence and then went on to re-offend had absolutely nothing to do with Louis Butler. Nothing.

Maybe Fraley doesn't know it, but there are laws in this country that govern what sort of testimony and evidence may be presented in court. It doesn't matter whether the defendant is an alleged child rapist or a homeless man who stole some loaves of bread from Panera's corporate headquarters. The principles are the same.

So Butler wasn't "working to put Reuben Lee Mitchell on the street," he was working to ensure another of Mitchell's constitutional rights, the one to a fair trial. Fraley and anyone else foolish enough to defend Gableman's teevee ad should take a look at the Bill of Rights sometime. They might be amazed at the number of protections that are extended to criminal defendants, let alone the panoply of more specific guarantees that arise from the Constitution's broad strokes.

And the public defender exists because the government has a lot of resources that the accused often doesn't have. The Framers of the Constitution, in their wisdom, knew this. But it would be unfair to cast Brian Fraley's understanding against that of, for example, James Madison, since few minds compare favorably with the latter's.

Next, quoting from some campaign propaganda received from the lovely and talented Gableman mouthpiece Darrin Schmitz, Fraley reminds us, in yet another glaring obviousness, that the public record is "fair game" and, by golly, even Louis Butler said so himself.

Well of course the public record itself is "fair game." But is it fair game to manipulate, distort, and constructively lie about the public record itself? Wouldn't that be the polar opposite of "fair game"? Why, yes, yes it would.

And that, believe it or not, is the entire substance of professional Republican consultant Brian Fraley's defense of Michael Gableman's disgraceful attack performance. One wonders why he decided to publish it in the first place. Far from being a defense, it's more like an expression of helpless embarrassment. And if that was not the intent, it certainly is the result.

The sole saving grace is that Fraley provided his sparkling analysis for free on the internets. Because in a more professional set of circumstances, Fraley's consulting firm, The Markesan Group, advertises first and foremost "Critical Thinking" services. Apparently you have to pay him for that. I sure as hell hope it's cheap, but not quite as cheap as Gableman's electoral strategy.

One thing is undeniable: Justice Louis Butler, in his constitutionally mandated former role, was a far more effective defender of the accused than is Brian Fraley of Mike Gableman's deliberate rubbish in his own present role as lame-o Republican apologist.

[Please visit the iT Butler/Gableman archive.]


Mike Plaisted said...

Yo, IT, Whaddup!

The interesting thing so far is not Fraley's Schmitz-scripted defense of the ad -- lame as it is -- but the silence of everyone else who regularly post fresh Scott Walker ads and any other GOP propaganda that they can distribute for free. And I don't think they are going to say anything about it, including Esenberg. The plan for them is to let this shit fly and poison the atmosphere in other ways. May I suggest that we should try to smoke them out -- this is a gut-check for those who pretend to have a legitimate interest in electoral politics. Fraley has failed; others will hide.

Other Side said...

We have tried at Whallah with an admittedly edgy, but tasty challenge titled Gableman and the Enablers

Anonymous said...

Gableman has done the electorate a real favor: his ad convincingly demonstrates his unfitness to serve as a judge.

The voters -- unlike Gableman -- are sophisticated to understand the role of a criminal defense lawyer. And I imagine the Butler campaign will remind them, with references to the fine work done by Innocence Projects, both in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Besides, we're a culture built on notions of competition and the net effect of Gableman's notion (defense attorneys should roll over for the prosecution) will be regarded as just plain seedy. It's an aggressive defense bar that keeps prosecutors from touching their inner Michael Nifong. Gableman ever heard of Nifong? Probably not; I hope he has before the election's over.

Another point, maybe tangential, maybe not. Mainstream media coverage of the race has been appallingly bad, though the J-S did run a very superficial story today (not bothering to dig up the link). IT and Michael Plaisted perform an invaluable service in covering angles the MSM either can't or won't. A triumph, in other words, of alternative over traditional media.

Bill Tyroler

illusory tenant said...

Fraley's best line has to be, "[T]he fact is ... that Butler voluntarily chose to be a public defender." Apparently this is supposed to be some sort of damning criticism.

What you're less likely to hear from the Fraley contingent is, "Butler voluntarily chose to be a public defender at $40/hr, instead of defending HMOs at $400."

Perhaps the others are waiting for Esenberg to "weigh in." Then Sykes, McIlheran, et al will know better what to say.

And once again, Atty. Tyroler, many thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I certainly hope you're correct as to the broader understanding and effect of this commercial.

Mike Plaisted said...

Thanks, Bill, but I only get 150 hits a day when I post something (sure, it's 150 Very Important People, but still...). The "alternative media" (Remember the Bugle American!) only works when it gets a boost from talk-radio (always right wing) or the MSM somewhere.

And speaking of "only", IT, Louis was a staff attorney for the agency back in the '80s and, as Bill can tell you, they weren't making anywhere near $40/hr back then. The private bar has been stuck on that mark for that long, but the attorneys working for the state didn't really get even close to a reasonable rate of pay until the unions negotiated for major catch-up in the '90s.

illusory tenant said...

Sheesh, I'd be happy to get 150 hits a month.