Thursday, July 08, 2010

Judicial Commission Discontinuation of Gableman Prosecution

Citizen Action of Wisconsin , which filed original complaint against unethical campaign ad, reacts to dismissal of case

Milwaukee: This afternoon the Wisconsin Judicial Commission ended its prosecution of Judge Michael Gableman for the controversial campaign ad he ran against Justice Louis Butler in 2008. Citizen Action of Wisconsin, the group that filed the original complaint, made the following statement:

“This is a dark day for the integrity of Wisconsin ’s judicial system,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “In yet another remarkable turn of events in this case, the Judicial Commission stated that its prosecution was valid, and that Judge Gableman should have been punished, but that they have no further authority to act given the division on the Supreme Court.”

“We understand that the Supreme Court deadlock placed the Judicial Commission in an extraordinarily difficult position, but believe that it should have followed the advice of Chief Justice Abrahamson, Justice Bradley, and Justice Crooks to hold a jury trial,’ Kraig continued. “The deeply disturbing message that is sent by the conclusion of this case is that Supreme Court judge’s are above the law, and that the institution does not have the capacity to police itself.”

The complaint, which was originally filed by Citizen Action of Wisconsin in March 2008, maintains that Justice Gableman made false and deliberately misleading statements in a campaign ad directed at Justice Louis Butler, violating the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct. 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. It falsely charged that Justice Butler’s actions had led to the release of a felon who committed another crime. In October 2008 the Wisconsin Judicial Commission agreed with the Citizen Action complaint, ruling that an attack ad by Michael Gableman showed “reckless disregard for the truth” and constitutes “judicial misconduct.” The Judicial Commission found the ad to be willfully false, and a clear violation of the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct. The affirmed that opinion in their press release today announcing the dismissal of the case.

Last week the Supreme Court deadlocked 3-3 on the case, leaving the case in legal limbo. In a well reasoned opinion, Chief Justice Abrahamson, Justice Bradley, and Justice Crooks found that the ad was willfully misleading and thus violated the Judicial Code of Conduct. "False statements knowingly made or false statements made in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity are not protected by the First Amendment," the justices concluded.


Blogger CJ said...

Disappointed? Yes, absolutely.

Surprised? Not at all.

July 13, 2010 8:53 AM  

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