Judiciary

Ethics Complaint Says Wis. Justice Misrepresented Facts in Campaign Ad


An ethics complaint accuses a new Wisconsin Supreme Court justice of misrepresenting the facts and making false statements in a campaign ad.

The complaint against Justice Michael Gableman is based on a television ad that suggested his opponent, an incumbent justice, helped free a child molester, report the Wisconsin Law Journal and the Associated Press.

The ad said, in part: “Louis Butler worked to put criminals on the street. Like Reuben Lee Mitchell, who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities. Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child.”

The complaint (PDF) by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission says Butler did represent Mitchell in an appeal in the 1980s when he was a public defender. Butler asserted the trial court should have excluded certain evidence, but the state supreme court held the error did not warrant a new trial. Mitchell was not released from jail until his parole.

Gableman’s campaign manager, Darrin Schmitz, says the ad is factual and the complaint tramples on the justice’s free speech rights.

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