The Gableman Smear
In a case that should make conservatives stand up and take notice, and that merits (and later will receive from me) far more ink (or cyber ink) than this blog entry can provide, yet another liberal media organ, with yet another series of tendentious stories, is doing the work of the organized political left and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) by trying to rescue Wisconsin unions from duly passed laws reining in their abuses.
It’s a complicated story, but the semi-short version is this: In an absurd and perhaps unconstitutional attempt at strangling free political speech, organs of the Left brought ethics charges in 2008 against newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who had just defeated liberal hack Louis Butler in a hard-fought race. They had the temerity to accuse Gableman of lying about Butler during the campaign, and wanted an organ of the state to adjudge what was and wasn’t acceptable political speech — First Amendment be damned.
The charges failed, eventually, on a 3-3 vote at the state Supreme Court.
Later, last year, Gableman joined a narrow high court majority ruling in favor of the constitutionality of the controversial new Wisconsin laws reining in the unions. The Left wants that ruling vacated — so they are going after Gableman again.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suddenly is all hot to report that Gableman’s lawyer during the ethics trial back then worked on a contingency fee basis — in other words, that Gableman didn’t pay the lawyer out of his own pocket. Worse, Gableman later ruled in a number of cases in which the lawyer’s firm was of counsel, including some 4-3 decisions — and ruled in favor of the client of that firm.
Egads! Scandal! The way the Journal-Sentinel-House-Organ-of-Democrats has been playing the story in multiple articles, Gableman accepted a free “gift” in the form of the contingency fee agreement (the firm was never paid because the 3-3 tie vote on the ethics charge meant that Gableman didn’t actually “win” the case, and therefore the attorneys couldn’t collect). When Gableman then was faced with other cases involving the firm that had provided him a “gift,” he therefore was supposedly required to recuse himself. Or so the paper’s biased coverage overwhelmingly suggests. And of course, it just so happens that one of those cases was the union case, which, by this logic, should be re-opened because of Gableman’s ghastly ethics.
What a nice, neat little package.
And what a crock of, uh, you know, rhymes with mitt.
To make its case, the Journal-Sentinal (pretending to be objective) turned for supposed legal-ethics expertise to Stephen Gillers, “a New York University Law School professor who specializes in legal ethics.” Never mind that Gillers is the same hack that the Left and establishment journalists (again, I repeat myself) trot out any time they need a “expert” to bash conservative legal ethics — because, of course, Gillers always somehow seems to come down in favor of whatever position benefits the political aims of liberals. How convenient.
But here’s the real kicker: How is it that a contingency fee arrangement is suddenly a “gift”? I thought the left, always in hock to the plaintiffs’ bar, loved contingency fee arrangements! That’s what gets the jackpots that are used to fund a huge part of the Left’s political apparatus. Is every plaintiff represented through a contingency-fee arrangement getting a “gift”? Of course not. As Viet Dinh, Gableman’s NEW lawyer, wrote in a letter to the editor that the Journal-Sentinel has conveniently refused to publish (although it did selectively quote from the letter in a “news” story), “Justice Gableman has the same fundamental right to representation as any other individual, and there is nothing improper or unethical about acquiring legal representation through a contingency fee agreement…. The inaccuracies are so persistent, and their pattern against Justice Gableman so consistent, that one unfortunately must consider editorial and journalistic bias.”
WAIT: There’s more. This is rich. It now turns out that a clearly left-leaning Judge in Wisconsin, the Hon. John Siefert, sued the Wisconsin Judicial Commission over a different issue in 2008. And guess what: Siefert did so under a contingency fee arrangement!! One waits with bated breath to see if the Journal-Sentinel will now run a series of “news” articles asking if Siefert improperly took a “gift.”
One will probably wait forever, and one’s breath will remain bated.