skip to nav skip to content


Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes


  • Print
Sorry, but I have to throw a flag on our own team....



Somewhat predictably, the left is trying to play the race card, by claiming that this ad is somehow racist. Actually it's worse: it is misleading. And, therefore, dumb. The case in the ad is not one Butler handled as a judge or a justice... it focuses on a case he handled as a public defender, a very different matter altogether.  The viewer has no way of knowing that even as a lawyer Butler was NOT responsible for Mitchell being out on the street again. The prosecution WON on appeal. So the claim that Butler was somehow responsible for the subsequent rape is completely unfounded. The irony is that there are more than few legitimate rulings Butler has made that the ad could have discussed. Butler's record on the Supreme Court is an especially target-rich environment.


Instead, they opted to go with an ad that debases the debate and is likely to backfire on the campaign.


Owen Robinson tries to (sort of) defend the ad:


The ad uses a bit of spin. For example, the ad says “Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to rape another child.” Those statements are entirely true. Butler represented the rapist on his appeal as a defense attorney. Butler won at the Court of Appeals but lost at the Supreme Court. After Mitchell was released, he did indeed rape another child. So the statements are factually correct, if marinated in political spin.


But the spin is misleading, as Rick Esenberg points out:


I am very disappointed that the campaign ran that ad. If the point of the ad is that criminal defense lawyers are "unsafe" as judges, it works against one of the presuppositions of our adversarial system of justice (albeit a presupposition that the general public tends to be uncomfortable with). There are criminal defense lawyers who come to have a certain type of guerrilla complex and see themselves as called to throw monkey wrenches into an unfair system. They shouldn't become judges. But that's a far cry from making an argument for a client. I don't think it's fair to criticize a lawyer for his or her clients. It wasn't fair when the Senate Democrats did it to Miguel Estrada and it's not fair here. It was Butler's job to look for "loopholes" on Mitchell's behalf. I have nothing to do with the Gableman campaign, but I would have rather strongly counseled against this ad. If one wants to criticize Justice Butler's approach to criminal cases, there are far better ways to do it.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Milwaukee, WI

Broken Clouds
Broken Clouds
SE at 3 mph

620 WTMJ