FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 16, 2011
Contact: Rep. Gary Hebl, 608.266.7678
Hebl calls investigation into Justice Gableman potential ethics violations
“Justice Gableman should recuse himself from Michael Best cases until this is resolved”
Today Rep. Gary Hebl, ranking Assembly Democrat on Judiciary and Ethics, called for an immediate and thorough investigation into recent reports that Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman received thousands of dollars in free legal services to defend himself against ethics charges. The case ended with a deadlock on the Supreme Court.
The state ethics code prohibits receiving anything of value for free, yet according to a letter to the Journal Sentinel from the law firm Michael, Best & Friedrich, Justice Gableman did not pay for legal services provided by the firm.
“These reports are extremely troubling as they called into question the objectivity and ethical standards of one of the highest ranking judges in our state,” Hebl said. “I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation. If a justice has taken gifts from an attorney and a firm that routinely appear before him in court, this also raises questions regarding the objectivity and fairness of numerous Supreme Court rulings.”
This current ethical dilemma resulted from a previous ethics investigation. Eric McLeod of Michael, Best & Friedrich represented Justice Gableman in that investigation. Even though it has come to light that Justice Gableman received free legal representation, he has not recused himself from cases involving McLeod or Michael Best, which currently has five cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Rep. Hebl called for an investigation by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board and the State Bar of Wisconsin.
“Given the deeply troubling nature of the situation and the impact it could have on the reputation of our state’s justice system, this investigation needs to commence immediately and Justice Gableman should recuse himself from all cases involving Michael Best until this is resolved.”