President Barack Obama has nominated former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis B. Butler, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. If confirmed by the Senate, Butler would succeed retired federal Judge John C. Shabaz.
Governor Jim Doyle appointed Butler as a justice on the state Supreme Court in 2004. He lost his bid to be elected to the court in April 2008, to Judge Michael Gableman. That race featured a controversial campaign ad, in which Gableman claimed that Butler found a loophole when he served as a public defender, to free a rapist who went on to molest another child. What the ad didn’t say was that the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal, and the rapist committed his next crime after he was paroled. Last month, a three judge panel heard arguments on whether a Gableman 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.
In September 2008, Governor Jim Doyle appointed Butler to will serve a two-year stint as Justice in Residence at UW Law School, teaching courses in criminal law, appellate advocacy and legal process. Butler has also worked with students and faculty in the law school’s moot court and clinical programs. Butler earned his law degree at UW Law School in 1977, worked in the state public defender's office from 1979-92, and was appointed as a judge on the city of Milwaukee Municipal Court in 1992. He served there for 10 years before his election as a Milwaukee County circuit court judge in 2002.