Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in a video promoting the partisan review of the 2020 election. (YouTube | Office of the Special Counsel)
A Dane County judge has ordered former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to pay $2,000 a day until he complies with open records requests related to his partisan review of the 2020 election.
Judge Frank Remington also wrote a withering condemnation of Gableman’s “sneering” conduct at a June 10 hearing in which he “destroyed any sense of decorum and irreparably damaged the public’s perception of the judicial process,” Remington wrote. Remington referred Gableman to the office that regulated the conduct of Wisconsin attorneys and judges, an action that could lead to a suspension of Gableman’s license to practice law.
Gableman appeared in court last week in a lawsuit brought by government watchdog group American Oversight. At the hearing, Gableman insulted the American Oversight attorney, Christa Westerberg, and Remington, before invoking his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
American Oversight has for months been attempting to get Gableman to comply with open records requests it has filed for information regarding his review.
After explaining why Gableman is being held in contempt for his failure to follow a court order to release the requested records, Remington said that the former Justice was not following his sworn oath to “comport himself honorably; with respect for the court and courtesy to fellow attorneys.”
“The transcript of these events does not tell the whole story,” Remington wrote. “It does not show Gableman’s raised voice, his accusatory tone and his twisted facial expression. It does not show that as he spoke, he pointed and shook his finger at the judge. If Gableman’s behavior on the witness stand was not enough, during a short recess, he made clear what he thought of the judge and opposing counsel,” referring to comments by Gableman that were picked up by a courtroom microphone in which he insulted both Remington and Westerberg.
For part of his order, Remington defends Westerberg and criticizes Gableman’s attack on her as sexist.
“Gableman’s conduct was an affront to the judicial process and an insult to Atty. Westerberg, by their very suggestion that she is not capable of litigating without the help of the judge,” he wrote. “The sophomoric innuendo about Atty. Westerberg coming back to chambers is a sad reminder that in 2022, woman lawyers still have to do more than be excellent at their job.”
Gableman’s comments about Westerberg’s ability as a lawyer came two months after he insulted the appearance of Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe.
“Black dress, white pearls, I’ve seen the act, I’ve seen the show,” Gableman said about Wolfe’s clothes in a radio interview in April.
The lawsuit in Remington’s court is one of three open records lawsuits pending against Gableman.
In a statement, American Oversight’s chief counsel Dan Schwager said the organization hopes the contempt order will finally push GAbleman into releasing the records.
“Multiple courts have repeatedly ruled that the records of the Assembly’s partisan election review belong to the public,” Schwager said. “We hope this decision will finally compel Mr. Gableman and the Office of Special Counsel to comply with Wisconsin law and the court’s orders, stop blocking transparency, and release all the records of their biased work to the public. It is increasingly clear that this unprofessional ‘investigation’ is little more than a charade intended to prop up former President Trump’s dangerously false claims of election fraud, and after spending nearly a million dollars of taxpayer money, the people of Wisconsin deserve all the facts.”
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