Michael Gableman

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Michael Gableman
Associate Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
Assumed office
August 1, 2008
Preceded by Louis Butler
Personal details
Born (1966-09-18) September 18, 1966 (age 50)
West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S.
Alma mater Ripon College (B.A.)
Hamline University School of Law (J.D.)

Michael J. Gableman (born September 18, 1966) is an American lawyer from Waukesha County, Wisconsin, currently serving as a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His term began on August 1, 2008 and ends on July 31, 2018.

Biography[edit]

Michael J. Gableman was born in West Allis, Wisconsin in 1966 and raised in Waukesha County. He is a graduate of New Berlin West High School (1984) and Ripon College (1988), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and history.[citation needed] He holds a teaching certificate for 7-12 grade history.[citation needed] After college, Gableman taught American history at George Washington High School in the Milwaukee Public School system (1988–1989) before pursuing a legal career. He graduated from Hamline University School of Law in 1993.[citation needed] He then served as a law clerk at the district court level in Minnesota and the circuit court level in Wisconsin. He became the half-time Assistant District Attorney in Langlade County and worked the other half time at a private law office while also serving as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Forest County. Gableman then worked as an assistant district attorney in Marathon County. He served as District Attorney of Ashland County from 1999-2002. In 2002, he was appointed the circuit court judge for Burnett County, and then elected Circuit Court Judge for Burnett County in 2003, with 78% of the vote.[citation needed]

In Burnett County, Gableman established an inmate community service program, a juvenile community service program, a drug and alcohol court, and a restorative justice program for which he served as chairman of the board for six years.[citation needed] He also was an adjunct professor of law at Hamline University School of Law, teaching criminal procedure and professional responsibility.[1]

In 2008, Gableman was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, winning 60 of the 72 counties of the state.[citation needed]

Judicial philosophy[edit]

Gableman is a judicial conservative, who has said of his judicial philosophy, "As a judicial conservative, I believe it is the role of the judge to apply the law and not make it."[2]

Race for Wisconsin Supreme Court[edit]

On April 1, 2008, Gableman defeated Louis Butler for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court 51% to 49%, making him the first candidate since 1967 to defeat an incumbent justice.[3]

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission brought an ethics charge against Gableman.[4] The charge alleged that a campaign advertisement in which he accused Butler of working "to put criminals on the street" and accusing Butler of finding a "loophole" that resulted in the release of a child molester, was false and misleading.[5] Gableman claimed in his defense that his free speech rights are violated by the judicial conduct rule he is accused of breaking.[6][7]

A three-judge panel was charged with the preliminary investigation into whether the campaign ad violated the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct.[8] In November 2009, the panel unanimously recommended that the complaint against Gableman be dismissed.[9] Procedure requires that the Wisconsin Supreme Court make the final determination as to whether there was an ethics violation.[10] When the court deadlocked 3-3, the commission stopped pursuing the case.[11]

Case recusal controversy[edit]

In January 2011, the group 9to5 Milwaukee filed an ethics complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board against Gableman for failing to recuse himself from a case in which he had allegedly had a financial interest.[12][13] The justice received legal counsel from July 2008 to July 2010 from the Wisconsin law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich on a contingency fee basis. Gableman received the services from the law firm as it defended him against a separate ethics charge. Gableman never declared the receipt of the services in official disclosure statements. Critics characterized the legal contingency-fee arrangement as "free" legal services, a characterization the law-firm rejected. [11]

References[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Louis Butler
Associate Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
2008–present
Incumbent