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Gableman drops countersuit against Judicial Commission

By: dmc-admin//January 12, 2009//

Gableman drops countersuit against Judicial Commission

By: dmc-admin//January 12, 2009//

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Rather than proceed with a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Gableman and his attorneys will save their arguments for a three-judge panel which will review allegations of misconduct against the justice.

In a response to the WJC’s request to dismiss the countersuit, attorneys for Gableman agreed to abandon the claim without prejudice on Jan. 5, but maintained his objection that the proceedings violate First Amendment rights.

Gableman’s countersuit, filed on Nov. 19, had sought an injunction to prevent enforcement of a portion of the state’s judicial code of conduct which he claims improperly regulates free speech in campaign advertising.

Attorneys for Gableman declined to comment beyond the Jan. 5 filing.

WJC executive director James C. Alexander said he expects the judicial panel will uphold the dismissal, but maintained that the Supreme Court has the authority to rule on the matter.

“We had said that this is a special proceeding and not subject to matters of jurisdiction,” Alexander said.

In the countersuit, attorneys for Gableman cited SCR 60.06(3)(c) as unconstitutional on the grounds it is “vague,” “overbroad” and it “does not satisfy strict scrutiny.”

Gableman called for the WJC’s action to be dismissed with prejudice and the Supreme Court to declare a clause in the rule unconstitutional for violating judicial candidates’ right to free speech under the First and Fourteenth amendments.

The WJC filed a formal complaint against Gableman on Oct. 7 alleging that on or around March 18, 2008 the then-Burnett County Circuit Court judge ran a television ad which implied that Justice Louis B. Butler Jr. enabled the release of a child molester who went on to assault someone else.

Alexander said that if the countersuit is dismissed, the merits of the complaint against Gableman will be reviewed by the panel.

“We will have to await an order from the disciplinary panel, which I assume will dismiss the counterclaims,” Alexander said. “That would leave the case going forward as a disciplinary action and the counterclaims won’t be part of it.”

No date has been set for when the panel will review the complaint.


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