Court Watch

Judge Gabler Provided False Information

Appointed to bench by Walker after his application falsely described municipal court violations.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Feb 20th, 2019 10:51 am
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Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Daniel Gabler provided false information on his judicial application about two Milwaukee Municipal Court cases that resulted in financial penalties against him and his wife.

Gabler provided the information in application materials he submitted to Gov. Scott Walker‘s office when seeking appointment to the bench. Gabler did not respond to emails about the matter sent to his office.

Gabler was found guilty twice in the past four years of building code violations at two Milwaukee rental properties he owned with his wife, Marybeth. The couple has since sold at least one of them.

Walker appointed Gabler to the bench in December. Gabler previously was chairman of the State Parole Commission.

Gabler, in his judicial application, acknowledged the two court cases, but laid the blame on a contractor.

“The origin of these most unfortunate actions was the omissions of a once reliable contractor,” Gabler wrote. “In these cases I contracted with (the contractor), including a transfer of a substantial down payment, to complete the work as required by the city.

“After months and months of promises and months of delay, I discovered that (the contractor) fled the country with my money in his pocket and without performing the necessary work.”

Yet Gabler was fined $280 in one of the cases in May 2015, six months before he hired the contractor in November 2015, according to Municipal and Circuit Court records. The property involved in that case is in the 300 block of E. Wilson St.

The contractor was hired to work at a different property owned by the Gablers. That property, which the couple has since sold, is in the 2200 block of S. Chase Ave.

The Gablers live in Bayside.

The Municipal Court case stemming from the Chase Ave. code violations involved the housing unit –not the garage the contractor was allegedly hired to fix, according to the city Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) and Circuit Court records.

A small claims case Gabler filed against the contractor said the two reached a verbal agreement in November 2015 calling for the contractor to make several repairs to the garage at the Chase Ave. property. The city had issued a raze order for the structure in April 2015. In its order, the city cited structurally defective walls, structurally defective columns or beams, defective exterior finishes, exterior trim and door units.

The Gablers were supposed to comply with the order by Nov. 11, 2015.

The contractor was supposed to replace door headers and doors, tuck point the concrete block, replace the roof and paint the garage, according to Gabler’s lawsuit, filed in May 2016. The agreed-upon price was $12,500; Gabler alleged he gave the contractor a $5,000 down payment.

Gabler eventually won a $10,388 judgment in the case and settled for $5,500, according to Circuit Court records.

The Gablers had the garage torn down by mid-July of 2016, according to DNS records.

Meanwhile, the city was preparing to take the couple to court over orders inspectors issued for the housing unit at the same address. The Gablers were told in November 2014 to replace defective fascia boards, roof eave boards, and exterior trim boards. The city also ordered the couple to paint wood and metal surfaces.

Building code violations are taken to Municipal Court if the property owner does not correct them within a certain time period.

On Aug. 16, 2016, the Gablers were each fined $440 for the violations, according to Municipal Court records.

The next day, the city reinspected the Chase Ave. property and found additional problems. This time the Gablers were ordered to paint; replace defective and missing boards in the roof eave; replace missing downspouts and connect to gutters; replace defective gutters; replace missing mortar on exterior walls; replace defective trim boards; and replace defective and missing siding.

In the earlier, 2015 building code case, involving the property in the 300 block of E. Wilson Street, Gabler was found guilty in May 2015 of the violations and was ordered to pay $280 in penalties;  charges against Marybeth Gabler were dismissed without prejudice, according to Milwaukee Municipal Court records.

Gabler’s Wilson St. property originally was cited in May 2013 for 12 violations; four remained by the time the penalty was levied. The Gablers did not comply with orders to paint wood and metal surfaces and repair or replace a defective service walk, according to records.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

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