Justice Gableman Denies Recusal Motions Seeking to Force Him Off of Cases

Justice Michael Gableman on Friday denied motions by attorneys in three separate cases asking the Justice to recuse himself from pending cases. The parties sought his removal after it was determined that Justice Gableman received contingency fee representation from an attorney with a law firm that had cases pending before the Court. The three cases are Adams v. State, Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, and Clinard v. Brennan.

In denying the motions, Justice Gableman explained that under Wisconsin law a Justice must recuse him or herself if they cannot “act in a fair and impartial manner” and by participating in the case they would “give the appearance that they were not able to act in a fair and impartial manner.”

Wisconsin law also provides that only the Justice him or herself can determine whether to decide whether to participate in the case and that other Justices on the bench cannot remove another Justice from a case.

Justice Gableman also cited U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from an end of the year report on the judiciary in which the Chief Justice addresses recusal matters:

A “Justice…cannot withdraw from a case as a matter of convenience or simply to avoid controversy. Rather, each Justice has an obligation to the Court to be sure of the need to recuse before deciding to withdraw from a case.”[i]

Chief Justice Roberts further noted in the report that a judge “should not be swayed by partisan demands, public clamor or considerations of personal popularity or notoriety, nor be apprehensive of unjust criticism. Such concerns have no role to play in deciding a question of recusal.”

Justice Gableman determined that based on the law and the motions by the parties that “recusal is neither justified nor warranted.”

This post was authored by Andrew Cook, and was originally published on the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council’s blog.


[i] See John G. Roberts, Jr. 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, available at http://www.uscourts.gov/Libraries/Statistics_PDFs/2011Year-EndReport.sflb.ashx.

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