September 17, 2009

Gableman's restatement of the law

An Indiana lawyer, speaking on behalf of a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, reveals his view of the adversarial system of American law:
Reporter: Let me ask you first of all, [regarding] the contention from [the Wisconsin Judicial Commission], that it really hinges on that final statement, 'Mitchell went on to rape again.' Without the argument that using the word 'loophole' implies that he was set free because of Justice Butler in some way, what does that final statement have to do with Louis Butler?

Jim Bopp: Well, it's the type of person that he was willing to represent, and the type of person that he was willing to find a loophole for. It had everything to do with Justice Butler's, uh, judgment, that he was willing to find a loophole to let such a heinous — or to relieve — such a heinous criminal from responsibility for his crime. Whatever that meant, in terms of finding a loophole.

Justice Butler at the time, as a criminal defense lawyer, was urging that Mitchell get, be released. In fact the Court of Appeals ordered him to be released* based upon this loophole. And so it has to do with [Butler's] judgment and his willingness to subvert our system of criminal, uh, bringing criminals into account. That's what it has to do with.
Can a judge who sits on Wisconsin's Supreme Court possibly agree with this proposition, that exercising the constitutionally guaranteed right to effective counsel in criminal matters is "subversion"?

Is this an accurate reflection of Michael Gableman's own attitude when he's sitting in judgment of an appeal in a criminal case?

I'm not aware that the United States Constitution distinguishes among the "types of person" that are entitled to representation.

And I hardly think that seeking a new trial for a defendant against whom evidence was admitted in contravention of the plain language of a Wisconsin statute has anything to do with a willingness to "relieve" the defendant from responsibility for a particular charge.

Whatever one might derive from or say about Gableman's defense against his ethics charges, it is not an especially admirable one. Indeed, it's offensive, in at least two separate senses of the word.

Yesterday when the WJC's counsel was asked, "Who is really harmed?" by Gableman's celebrated television advertisement, counsel responded that it was primarily "the institution of the courts."

That may well be but I believe a far better argument could be made that the individual who suffered the most harm in this affair is Michael Gableman himself. And he continues to suffer harm by way of this manner of statement made by his attorney.

Of course the correct answer to the reporter's question is: Nothing. It's only there in support of the claim-by-implications that Louis Butler's actions were in some way causally connected with the crime.

But the correct answer would not serve Michael Gableman's past — and apparently current and perhaps even future — purposes.

* In fact, this is false. That court made no such order.

It's more than a little ironic that Mr. Jim Bopp would make such an obviously false statement of the record in a case where he's defending the "literal truth" of each and every of his own assertions.

Clearly, Mitchell's "release" and subsequent offense were meant to be causally connected by Gableman to Butler's having "found a loophole," which is what the Judicial Commission's allegations are all about.

Yet Mr. Bopp claimed yesterday, on the record:
There is no effort to attribute the finding of the loophole to his release and subsequent molestation of a child. There is no claim made that that is the sequence of events or the result of the finding of the loophole.
It's extremely difficult to imagine anyone actually believing this.

Whosoever does believe it perhaps could be summoned from among Mr. Jim Bopp's speculative collection of speculative persons who would find nothing morally objectionable about raping 11-year-old children with learning disabilities.

Unfortunately yesterday's proceedings dwelt more on the individual veracity of particular "statements" — English sentences removed from context — than the "statement" so obviously conveyed by the advertisement itself in toto, complete with visual and aural effects.

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