Having a Waukesha County judge jail officials who refuse to give Michael Gableman depositions at his private office is the “fairest and least invasive process” to enforce the subpoenas he issued, the former justice is arguing.
Last month, a Gableman attorney wrote a letter to Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez insisting the former justice’s intent was to compel compliance with the subpoenas he’d issued, not to jail the mayors of Green Bay and Madison in the process.
But in a filing yesterday, Gableman urged Ramirez to enforce the subpoenas, arguing the judge has the power to detain the targets if they won’t provide what the former justice seeks. The Legislature could find the targets in contempt and seek to punish them if they continued to fail to comply. But Gableman argued that would end up involving the courts anyway and the process would be “burdensome, inefficient, and overly invasive alternative.”
“There is no good reason to force the legislature to conduct a quasi-trial about the enforcement of the subpoenas when a judicial remedy has been specifically created by the legislature to address matters of recalcitrant witnesses,” Gableman argued. “Doing so would simply add inevitable process, time, and expense.”
Gableman originally issued subpoenas to Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine Sept. 28 seeking records and testimony related to the cities receiving money from a group largely funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to help cover the costs of putting on an election amid a pandemic.
In yesterday’s filing, Gableman for the first time detailed that Kenosha “appeared at the depositions.” Officials in the other four cities have submitted records, but declined to appear at his private office in Brookfield for depositions. They have argued he lacks the authority to compel them to do so.
They also have argued it would be inappropriate to have the Waukesha County sheriff detain officials living in other jurisdictions to be held in the Waukesha County jail unless they comply with Gableman’s demands.
Gableman issued another round of subpoenas to officials with the five cities and the state Elections Commission. Those included deadlines last week for them to appear for depositions.
The new brief also comes on the heels of Gableman filing a new motion seeking to have detained all of the officials who didn’t appear for depositions. He originally only sought to jail the mayors of Green Bay and Madison.
The new motion also listed: Madison Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, Green Bay Clerk Celestine Jeffreys, Elections Commission Chair Ann Jacobs, Elections Commission IT Project Manager Sarah Linske, Wisconsin Director of Enterprise Technology Trina Zanow, Milwaukee Telecommunications Manager David Henke, Milwaukee GIS Analyst Hannah Bubacz and a representative of Racine.
Read the brief here.