Attorneys for Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman say an ad run by his campaign in 2008 is protected by the First Amendment and he should not be punished for running it.
The ad targeting then-Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler focused on his time as a public defender, when he represented a convicted rapist. Wisconsin Judicial Commission attorney James Alexander says the ad implied Butler got the man out of jail, allowing him to rape again. Alexander says the ad implies Butler found a loophole that got Reuben Lee Mitchell out of jail.
Butler won a new trial for Mitchell, although the decision was eventually overturned by the state Supreme Court and he served his sentence. Mitchell then committed another rape after his release.
Jim Bopp, Gableman’s attorney, says the ad does not state there is a connection between Butler and the second rape.
A three judge panel heard arguments Wednesday on whether Gableman’s campaign ad violated the state judicial code. If the panel rules Gableman did violate the code, they would then forward a recommendation on to the remaining members of the state Supreme Court. Justices could then decide if Gableman should be reprimanded, removed from the bench, or face other disciplinary action.
The judges gave no indication when a decision could be made.