Note: WJI will continue the "Walker's judges" features for judges appointed by former Gov. Scott Walker who are still on the bench. We also will add information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees as he makes them.
The information here is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Name: Daniel J. Gabler
Appointed to: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 26, 2018
Law School – Marquette University
Undergrad – Creighton University
High School –Not listed
March 2017-present – Chairman, Wisconsin Parole Commission
1999-2017 – Milwaukee County assistant district attorney
1997-1999 – Compliance officer, Goodwill Industries
1996-1997 – Public affairs manager, Time Warner Cable
Wisconsin Bar Association
Milwaukee Bar Association
Arbitrator, Milwaukee Better Business Bureau
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
St. Thomas More Society
Gabler, on his resume, lists his accomplishments as a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney.
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings: Over 27 years of experience in the legal profession, advocated for the rights and interests of individuals, families, small businesses, community based organizations, municipal governments, witnesses and crime victims through firm but fair advocacy in faithful adherence to the law – ever mindful that what I may want the law to be cannot be my guide. My guide has been the law as written and interpreted by higher courts.
Worked as a Better Business Bureau arbitrator required application of facts consistent with terms of arbitration agreement and the Wisconsin Lemon Law.
No matter how sympathetic the plaintiff / auto owner was, there were times my decisions resulted in disappointment out of my faithfulness to the law.
Most recently was chair of the Wisconsin Parole Commission.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Jury, more than 100; non-jury, more than 35; arbitration, 10; administrative bodies, More than 2,000 (parole chair).
Cases on appeal: Wrote three appeals briefs in unpublished cases. As clerk to Appeals Judge MIchael T. Sullivan, researched and drafted in part five District I Court of Appeals decisions.
List and describe the three most significant cases in which you were involved: (Gabler listed only two)
State v. Artic, 2006
In this case, I prosecuted Mr. Robert Artic Sr. for Conspiracy to Commit the Crime of Possession with Intent to Deliver Controlled Substance-Cocaine and Keeper of a Drug Place in February 2006 (06 CF 0685). It was a particularly challenging case for the evidence against the defendant was circumstantial. In addition, it was tried before a jury over the course of five days in front of a judge who had just been rotated to the criminal division, having virtually no prior criminal jury trial experience. After presenting numerous police testimony evidence and over 25 exhibits, the jury found Defendant Artic guilty of both counts.
Racine v. Weisflog, 1991
The case resulted in an opinion issued by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals that addressed uncharted parameters of a corporate officer / director’s fiduciary duties to the corporation when a business opportunity presents itself to that officer / director. As a judicial law clerk for the Hon. Michael T Sullivan, I researched, drafted and conferred with other judges on the panel to arrive at a unanimous opinion that has stood the test of time. ...
The Racine v. Weisflog holding was the synthesis of Wisconsin case law together with general principles of corporate law, and legal treatises and commentaries.
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan or partisan political campaigns:
– Eastside Republican Club, Treasurer; 1993 to 1995.
– Prior to becoming Governor, I assisted Scott Walker in his very first election when he was the winner in a 5-way Republican primary race for Wisconsin State Assembly. My help included door-to-door campaigning, making phone calls to registered voters on his behalf and providing financial support. This pattern of support continued in his victory in the 2002 Special Election for Milwaukee County Executive election, his re-election in 2004 and in 2008. I further assisted Scott Walker in his 2010 election for Governor, in the 2012 Gubernatorial Recall Election as well as the 2014 Re-election campaign via financial support, bundling donations and making thousands of phone calls at an election call center.
– Provided advice and counsel to Justice Rebecca Bradley in her Milwaukee County Circuit Court election in the Spring 2013 by sharing with her the lessons of my 2009 Judicial Campaign as well as referring her to community leaders with whom I had established relationships. I also provided financial and public support of Justice Bradley in her 2016 State Supreme Court election victory.
– Provided financial support to and a public endorsement of Judge Michael Gableman (now Justice Gableman) in his 2008 State Supreme Court election victory over incumbent Justice Louis Butler (formerly a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge) – the first sitting Justice to lose an election since 1967.
– Provided financial support to and a public endorsement of Brad Schimel in his election victory as Wisconsin Attorney General in 2014.
– Provided financial support to, a public endorsement of Milwaukee County Judge Nelson W. Phillips (Gov. Walker Judicial Appointee) in 2012. Also arranged introductions between candidate Phillips and key Milwakee (sic) County GOP leaders.
– Provided financial support to, a public endorsement of Milwaukee County Judge Michelle Havas (Gov. Walker Judicial Appointee) in 2016.
– Provided financial support to, a public endorsement of Milwaukee County Judge Paul Rifelji (Gov. Walker Judicial Appointee) in 2016.
– Provided financial support to and a public endorsement of Atty Joe Voiland (now Judge Voiland) in his 2013 Ozaukee County Circuit Court victory over his opponent who signed the petition to Recall Governor Walker.
– Provided financial support to, a public endorsement of Scott Wales (Open Judicial Seat) in 2017.
– I have also regularly circulated the Nomination Papers for various Circuit Court and Supreme Court Judicial candidates and at times have financially supported them. See answer below to Question regarding indorsements (sic) for a more complete list of those I have assisted in recent years.
Please list all judicial or non-partisan candidates that you have publically endorsed in the last six years:
Justice Rebecca Bradley, Wisconsin State Supreme Court
Judge Rebecca Bradley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge William Brash, Wisconsin Court of Appeals District I
Judge Michael Screnock, Candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
Judge James Daley, Candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
Judge Audrey Skwierawski, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Laura Crivello, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Cindy Davis, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Michelle Havas, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Michelle Havas, Milwaukee County Circuit Court (sic)
Judge Paul Rifelji, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Thomas A. McAdams, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Nelson W. Phillips, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge David Borowski, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge David Feiss, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Judge Mark Sanders, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
List previous candidacies:
Special primary election, 7th District Wisconsin State Senate, 1995
Milwaukee County Circuit Court, 2009
Describe any additional involvement in professional or civic organizations, volunteer activities, service in a church or synagogue, or any other activities or hobbies that could be relevant or helpful to consideration of your application:
– Past President, Brady Street Area Resident-Business Association
– Arbitrator, Milwaukee Better Business Bureau
– Parish Advisory Council Member, St. Eugene Catholic Church
– School Board Member, St. Eugene Catholic Church
– Assistant Scout Master, Boy Scout Troop 397, 2012 - 2016
– YMCA of St. Croix Valley, board member
– Chairman, Stewardship Committee, St. Eugene Parish
– Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout with a Bronze Palm
– Advisor, Junior Achievement of Southeastern Wisconsin
– Volunteer, Milwaukee Rescue – Joy House
List any honors, prizes or awards received:
Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office: “The Piranha Award” for a particularly difficult jury trial resulting in a conviction. Awarded to me in 2002 In re: State v. Joseph R. Baker wherein Mr. Baker was represented by Alan D. Eisenberg.
Describe any pro bono legal work in the last five years:
Due to the nature of my work as a Parole Commission Chairperson and my former work as a criminal prosecutor, I am precluded from providing pro bono legal services.
Describe any fees or compensation of any kind other than for legal services:
A very modest amount of rental income is generated from the 3 residential investment properties my wife and I own and operate as individuals (unincorporated). After accounting for taxes, debt service costs, depreciation and maintenance costs, net revenue for all 4 properties is less than (redacted) per year.
Why I want to be a judge – I seek to serve the community as a Circuit Court Judge for the following three reasons:
1.) Ensure the Rule of Law The State of Wisconsin was established with 3 distinct co-equal
branches of government. I want to work as a judge to safeguard those distinctions by following the rule of law. ... There is nothing more frustrating for a lawyer, litigant or victim than for a judge to render impulsive decisions with little or no regard to established law. And when these injustices occur it not only demeans the reputation of the judiciary but also the foundations of our representative democracy. As John Adams enshrined the in the 1780 Massachusetts state constitution: we are "a government of laws, not of men." Erratic rulings degrade the legitimacy of the courts.
2.) Limits of Government and Law: I want to help ensure that the rights and interests of all litigants are respected. I seek to continue my work to protect individual liberty rights from unjust government intrusion. As a Prosecutor I took great pride in treating witnesses, attorneys and defendants with dignity and respect - all the while acting as a vigorous advocate for public safety. I am cognizant that a judge’s decision can affect people in a profound way. I am also very mindful of the fact that those who find themselves in a courtroom as a party to an action are likely confronting the most stressful circumstances they will ever face. And with this reality comes the responsibility to listen to the litigants, apply the law and explain the law in such a fashion that the parties know the decision arises not out of a personal bias but rather a fair application of the law embedded in the constitution and as written by the legislature.
Currently as the Wisconsin Parole Commission Chair I make an extra effort to treat long-term inmates and their loved ones with dignity by personally delivering to them the disappointing news of a Parole Grant Denial. Again, explaining to the inmate the legal criteria I am compelled to follow as well as explaining to them, in detail, the basis of my decision as to engender a sense of fairness and hope.
3.) Enhance Quality of Life for the Community Through my 27+ years of legal work I have enhanced the lives of Wisconsin residents by working within the confines of the law. As Chairman of the Parole Commission, I have faithfully applied the legal criteria in rendering decisions on whether to issue discretionary grants to parole. As a result, I have released back into the community those persons who have served sufficient prison time and who have demonstrated that they no longer pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the community. Correspondingly, I have protected the public from further harm by those persons, convicted of the most severe crimes, who continue to pose a clear and present danger to our civil society if released from prison.
As an Assistant District Attorney for more than 17 years I faithfully applied constitutional and statutory law in the prosecution of thousands of some of the most violent criminals in Milwaukee County. I know firsthand the devastation caused by those who commit felonious crimes such as: strong-arm robbery, drug trafficking, gun crimes, domestic violence, home invasions, drunk driving and carjacking. At the same time I was very careful not to allow the aftermath of the crime, nor the “bad” character of the unproven culprit, to drive decisions relating to whether the alleged perpetrator should be subject of criminal charges. I used the facts and the law to guide my efforts and judgments as a prosecutor.
And so as I have respected the boundaries and limits of the executive branch functions as the Parole Chairman and as a frontline criminal prosecutor, so too as a judge would I be ever mindful to stay within the confines of the role of the Judiciary. And by this faithfulness to such limits, I would serve and to protect the rights and interests of ALL community members regardless of age, race, gender or socio-economic background.
"When executed properly by a trial judge, litigants and society as a whole have a confidence that justice has been served." Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Daniel Gabler
Best Wisconsin or U.S. Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years – Milewski v Town of Dover 2017
The court then addressed at length the origins of the meaning of the word “search” in the context of the Fourth Amendment. Specifically the court examined: 1.) whether a tax assessor’s “viewing” per statute was a search, and if so was it “reasonable.”
As an example of a textbook originalist interpretation, the majority found the meaning of “search” by citing case law as old as 1886 and citing the founders’ strenuous objection to British agents’ entry into private homes, without consent, in search of taxable goods. ...
This case falls into the “Best Case” category for two reasons: 1.) the court utilized the classic originalist analysis in defining the word “search.” The court literally “beat back” government attempts to intrude into our living rooms and bedrooms under a pitiful, hair-splitting argument that a “viewing” was not a search under the Constitution; and 2.) the resolution of the competing “government vs. individual interests” was rooted in the right of private property first principles. This case is a stark reminder of one of the key reasons why the colonialist risked all they had to establish a country governed by laws and not by men.
Worst Wisconsin or U.S. Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years – State v. Dubos, 2005
As its cornerstone the court relied upon 8 different behavioral science and law review articles published between 1996 and 2003 and concludes – while citing a 1995 Massachusetts case (an opinion that pre-dated the publications) - “[t]hese studies confirm that eyewitness testimony is often ‘hopelessly unreliable.’ ”
This conclusion on its face is farcical! First and foremost, it is unclear under what constitutional legal principle the court used to justify the reliance upon social science literature (some of which is disputed) to resolve a matter of law. (The majority makes a half-hearted attempt by citing to Justice William J. Brennan’s 1977 law review article that asserted the decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) overturning Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was based upon sociological studies.) Secondly, the court ignores the fact that much of what constitutes as evidence in criminal trials IS “eyewitness testimony.” Thirdly, witness testimony has always been subjected to “reliability” scrutiny via a jury instructions which direct jurors to “weigh the testimony” of all witnesses and take into consideration when assessing a witness’ credibility such factors as the demeanor of the witness while testifying, a motive to lie, intelligence of the witness, ability to know and the degree of specificity of the testimony. ...
In an addition to the faulty reliance upon social science literature, the majority blatantly ignored both state and federal precedent by flexing its “New Federalism” muscle by claiming Wisconsin had the “right to interpret our constitution to provide greater protections than its federal counterpart.” The invocation of a “New Federalism” claim is nothing but an attempt to cover the tracks of an activist court. This decision to cast aside stare decisis, without sound constitutional underpinnings and under the guise of improving the law, has “the predictability of a lightening bold” for the future application of the new “show-up” procedure as well as all other constitutional-criminal procedures.
Judicial philosophy – My judicial philosophy is rooted in the “rule of law.” First this means that we are a society of laws and NOT of “men” and thus they are to be enforced systematically with regularity. The founders established a unique role for the judiciary so to ensure social order and stability. The parties to an action should be able to predict with a reasonable degree of certainty the legal outcome of their dispute given the application of a law as it is written.
Critical to maintaining social order and stability is the proper application of due process rights of parties. Parties to an action must be afforded proper notice and an adequate hearing on the merits of the dispute. To that end a trial judge must apply the proper standard of review in order to correctly apply the law. When executed properly by a trial judge, litigants and society as a whole have a confidence that justice has been served.
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