Thursday, April 3, 2008

The finger pointing aftermath

Everybody seems to have something to say about the recent Gableman victory/Butler loss. Those of us who are more liberal leaning are justifiably unhappy about the situation, while some more conservative voices (though not all) are pretty pleased with the outcome. Fair enough--that's all pretty par for the course.

Things get interesting, though, mostly in the comments sections of various blogs. Hyperbole is running rampant, and lots of finger pointing is being done. Both sides of the debate are guilty of it, but what has especially caught my eye is the frequent refrain by certain conservative voices that "Butler lied about Gableman!" This is usually in reply to someone pointing out the many documented cases of the Gableman campaign and/or its supporters spreading falsehoods about Butler.

I don't fool myself into thinking that Butler's campaign came out squeaky clean in this mess of an election. Still, when I ask these voices to provide some evidence of these alleged lies about Gableman, I have so far been met with resounding silence.

The only thing I've been able to dig up on my own are stories about the Greater Wisconsin Committee (GWC) airing an advertisement that critics say misrepresent his record and reversal rate. As far as I know, this is what all the commentators are referring to, so this is what I'll address.

From a press release issued by the Gableman campaign:

The new GWC television ad states, “And Gableman’s decisions are ruled incorrect and overturned by higher courts about 1/3 of the time.”

Judge Gableman’s actual record and reversal rate is as follows:

23,545 cases presided over.
44 cases have been appealed.
Of the 44 appealed cases:
23 cases affirmed.
13 cases dismissed.
6 cases reversed.
2 cases affirmed in part/reversed in part.

Judge Gableman has been reversed 6 times in 23,544 cases (.02%). Even of the 44 appealed cases, 77% of them have been affirmed and only 13% have been reversed – not 33% as the GWC falsely claims.
So is that the lie everyone's crowing about? Because if so, the issue isn't as cut and dry as all that. The 23,545 figure cited as the total number of cases presided over includes 8,800 uncontested traffic tickets. If you were to remove those cases from the total (which seems like a reasonable thing to do, especially since they were trying to frame the debate in terms of "criminal convictions"), that 33% figure seems somewhat less, well, untrue.

Maybe I'm missing something, though. What lies did Butler tell about Gableman? I'm open to being proven wrong. Again, I think both sides in the election comported themselves rather disgracefully (though I'm certain you can tell which side I think was worse). Still, the evidence seems to weight rather heavily against Gableman and his supporters, and I don't think trying to compare Butler's tactics to his is doing a whole lot to bolster the pro-Gableman cause.

In the end, if we're to continue electing our Supreme Court Justices, it would be extremely preferable to do so based solely on the merits and qualifications of the candidates. If we were to remove all of the attack ads, traffic tickets, moneyed business interests and partisan bickering from the equation, I think the outcome would be quite different.


Jesse said...

I blame the 20,000 progressives who didn't go vote and could have flipped the tally.

Emily said...

Voter turnout was shamefully low.

illusory tenant said...

I only mentioned the uncontested traffic tickets because it's so obviously prima facie ludicrous. There are many, many other cases that need to be removed from that total.

Emily said...

IT - You're right, of course. It's hard to sum up everything that was wrong with their argument in one post, though, so I stuck with the traffic ticket example.

John P said...

As a conservative, I did not vote Butler because he was black, in fact I could care less. I really did not pay any attention to the 3rd party ads or the campaign ads. I could not even tell you what they said. I did not vote for Butler because I disagreed with most of his rulings. I am not a lawyer, and I do not claim to know the law, but I was outraged about the lead paint ruling, the medical malpractice cap rulings, the Dairyland race track ruling. This is why I did not vote for him.

Doyle appointed Butler to the bench, knowing full well that he was crushed in the election against Justice Sykes. That is real arrogance.

I do not recall the left being this upset when Doyle beat Mark Green, with all of Xoff's group's misrepresentations and Doyles. Do I know if Butler lied against Gableman? I do not know, I have not researched any of Butler's claims. I have not researched any of Gableman's claims against Butler either. I do seem to recall that the first attack ad was made by a lefty third party group.

I also find it funny that some one like illusory tenant, writes like he knows it all, but does not have the guts to use is own name. At least emily has some guts.

Emily said...

For what it's worth, John, IT just outed himself.

illusory tenant said...

Hi Emily; it's you that's right. Sorry if I wasn't more clear earlier. If you take a look at the Yearend Caseload Summary for Burnett County (it's online) you'll see a breakdown by type of all the cases which add up to that 23,545 figure.

What I meant was that not only shouldn't those 8,800 uncontested traffic tickets be included to calculate the rate of reversal on appeal, there's also several hundred other cases that shouldn't have been counted either.

I only mentioned the uncontested traffic tickets because they were the funniest. But there's a lot more that should be added to the 8,800.

-Deb- said...

My guess is that WEAC's ads indicating that Gableman is soft on child molesters is probably a bit off the mark, though I don't have to content handy to fact-check.

The Lost Albatross