Gableman motions to dismiss judicial ethics charges over rape ad

By John O'Brien | May 19, 2009


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman's defense against misconduct charges continues, with the first-term justice filing a motion to dismiss them last week.

On May 11, Gableman filed a motion for summary judgment with a three-judge panel that is hearing a complaint brought by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The complaint focuses on an advertisement Gableman ran that was critical of his 2008 opponent, then-Justice Louis Butler.

The three-judge panel, on Tuesday, wrote that the WJC has 30 days to respond, and Gableman has 15 days after that to reply.

Court of Appeals judges Harry Snyder (District 2) and Ralph Adam Fine (District 1) and David Deininger, a reserve judge make up the panel, which will recommend the punishment, if any, Gableman should face.

A Gableman ad said Butler found a loophole to put a pedophile back on the streets, where he molested another child.

"The advertisement directly implied and was intended to convey the message that action or conduct of Louis Butler enabled or resulted in (Reuben Lee) Mitchell's release and Mitchell's subsequent commission of a criminal molestation," the complaint says.

"Each of these statements of fact constituting the message is false."

Butler was a public defender from 1979-92 and represented Mitchell for three years while Mitchell appealed his conviction. He was found guilty of raping an 11-year-old girl with a learning disability.

Both the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court agreed with Butler's argument that certain evidence had been wrongly admitted during Mitchell's trial, though the error was not significant enough to grant Mitchell a new trial.

He was released on parole in 1992 and three years later convicted of second-degree sexual assault of another child.

"Louis Butler did not cause, facilitate or enable Mitchell's release from prison and had no responsibility for or connection with Mitchell's subsequent commission of a crime," the complaint says.

"Prior to publication of the advertisement, Judge Gableman was familiar with the facts and holdings of both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions...

"At the time Judge Gableman approved and published the advertisement, he had no reason to believe that Louis Butler had any responsibility for or involvement in Mitchell's release from prison in 1992 or that any action by or work of Louis Butler had anything to do with Mitchell's commission of the subsequent criminal molestation referred to in the advertisement."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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