Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Shirley Abrahamson, Perjurer?

A follow-up to my two posts last week on Wisconsin chief justice Shirley Abrahamson’s lawsuit to prevent a voter-adopted referendum from displacing her as chief justice (while leaving her as an associate justice): 

Abrahamson filed a verified complaint—that is, a complaint accompanied by her verification “under penalty of perjury” that she (1) “reviewed the foregoing complaint”; (2) believes “the allegations [as] to which [she has] personal knowledge … to be true”; and (3) as to the allegations to which she does not have personal knowledge, “believe[s] them to be true based on information obtained by my counsel.” (See the 17th page of the linked complaint for her verification.)

The notary public’s certification states that Abrahamson executed her verification on April 6, 2015.

Unfortunately for Abrahamson, the vote on the referendum took place the following day, April 7. Thus, Abrahamson’s statement under penalty of perjury on April 6 that “On April 7, 2015, voters approved” the referendum could not have been true at the time she made it. Further, Abrahamson surely knew the statement was not true. Ditto for all of her other statements in her verification that treat the election as something that had already occurred and the referendum as having been approved.

It is no small thing for anyone—much less a judge—to “declare under penalty of perjury” something that is not true. (That her counsel may have told her that the complaint would be filed only if the referendum was adopted does not alter the fact that what she declared “under penalty of perjury” was not true at the time that she made the declaration.)

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