Thursday, November 12, 2009

Public Interest Group that Filed Complaint against Justice Gableman Shocked by Judicial Panel Recommendation

[We have received the following press release and are pleased to publish it on behalf of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.]

Milwaukee: Today a three-judge Judicial Conduct Panel appointed to probe a complaint against Justice Michael Gableman recommended that the state Supreme Court dismiss the complaint.

The complaint, which was originally filed by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, maintains that Justice Gableman made false statements in a 2008 campaign ad directed at Justice Louis Butler. The ad, which sparked outrage from the legal community, editorial boards, and the public at large, was compared by many to the infamous “Willy Horton” ads.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin released the following statement from Executive Director Robert Kraig :

“This is a shocking turn of events in a case that has drawn national attention. It is a sad day for truth in Wisconsin when a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court can lie in a campaign ad and not be punished.

Two of the judges found a way to split hairs -- finding the language technically true, but misleading. And then finding a judge can't be disciplined for misleading the public. It is unbelievable. As Judge Deininger said, "Justice Gableman...'found a loophole.'"

The Judicial Code expects judges to have high standards. This is why the Code provides that a candidate for judge cannot knowingly or with reckless disregard misrepresent a fact concerning an opponent. Clearly anyone seeing the Gableman ad knows it was not true. It was misleading.

Judge Fine in his concurrence acknowledges the majority is splitting hairs and would find the ad was a violation of the judicial code. His quarrel is whether the Code violates the First Amendment. Since when does the First Amendment allow a liar to go unpunished? Defamation, libel and slander are all actionable civil wrongs.

One hopes the Wisconsin Supreme Court will not follow the recommendation of the three judge panel and will in fact discipline Justice Gableman for his outrageous and untruthful campaign ad.”


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