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Judge revokes ex-Gableman attorneys’ right to represent 2020 election inquiry

The out-of-state attorneys made a 'a pernicious and selfish attempt to repaint the truth,' judge in public records case writes

Former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman
Former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Screenshot from Wisconsin Office of Special Counsel YouTube

A judge has declared that attorneys for the now-fired former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who led a yearlong election inquiry can no longer represent the effort.

In a scathing opinion Wednesday afternoon, Judge Frank Remington wrote that the out-of-state lawyers representing the Wisconsin Assembly’s Office of Special Counsel “applie(d) phony legal principles to invented facts” in a public records case filed in December 2021.

The judge, who blasted Gableman’s election investigation in a Tuesday court hearing, calls the office’s legal claims “unsupported, illogical and … outright false.”

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“If my prior estimation that OSC’s brief ‘contains inaccuracies’ was improvident, it was only in the suggestion that OSC’s brief also contains accuracies,” Remington wrote. “But to read the brief casually is to witness fiction distilled from the disappointment of a losing party; a fever dream version of the facts of this case.”

A closer read, Remington continued, reveals “a pernicious and selfish attempt to repaint the truth.”

The revocation of the office’s lawyers’ ability to represent the investigation comes less than a week after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fired Gableman from the job leading the office. In court Tuesday, the attorneys for liberal watchdog group American Oversight argued that their public records case should continue despite Gableman’s firing. Remington said in court that it was possible their case had simply reached a “dead end.”

In Wednesday’s decision, Remington found that Indiana-based Republican attorney James Bopp and his team had failed to meet Wisconsin’s legal rules for professional conduct and had filed frivolous motions in the case, including one accusing the judge of bias.

Vos appointed Gableman to lead the inquiry into the 2020 election in Wisconsin in July 2021. GOP former President Donald Trump narrowly lost the state to Democrat Joe Biden, and has spent the months and years since then making false or unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him. A hand recount of Wisconsin’s two largest counties, multiple audits and a nonpartisan election review have found no evidence of widespread fraud.

More recently, Gableman publicly turned against Vos, the GOP leader of the Assembly, appearing at a Trump rally before Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary and blasting Vos while endorsing Vos’s primary opponent. After Vos narrowly won that primary, he responded by removing Gableman from his job. In a media availability on Tuesday, Vos said Gableman could lose his law license as a result of his conduct on the investigation.

Remington previously found Gableman’s office in contempt of court for failing to produce records requested by American Oversight. On Wednesday the judge lifted that order, finding that Gableman must pay $24,000 to the court after he submitted an affidavit detailing how he searched for records in the case.

James Bopp did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WPR.

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed.

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