American Oversight Statement on Wisconsin Court Decision Regarding Secret Impeachment Panel Lawsuit

On Tuesday, Judge Frank Remington of the Dane County Circuit Court granted Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ motion to dismiss the open meetings portion of American Oversight’s lawsuit against Vos and his panel of former state Supreme Court justices. American Oversight’s public records claims will proceed.

Statement for American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer:

“American Oversight’s lawsuit was about getting the people of Wisconsin the facts and documents in real time — as Speaker Vos’ secret panel was meeting and advising him, not months or years later. Our quick action achieved that goal, bringing to light important documents and information about the composition and recommendations of the panel — notably, the fact that former Justices Prosser and Wilcox advised against the impeachment of Justice Protasiewicz — that otherwise might have remained shrouded in darkness. 

“Importantly, our public records suit will continue and we will fight to ensure that the public has a complete understanding of Vos’ impeachment efforts. As to the open meetings claims, we appreciate Judge Remington’s careful consideration of the issues and will be considering all of our options.”  

American Oversight filed a verified complaint with the Dane County district attorney upon learning of Vos’ secret panel in September. Concerned about the fast-moving pace of the secret panel, and without action by the district attorney, American Oversight filed its lawsuit alleging violation of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law five days later. In dismissing the open meetings claims, Judge Remington concluded that, because the statute provides a 20-day period for the district attorney to act, the court lacked competence to hear American Oversight’s claims.

While concluding that the legitimate open meetings concerns could not supersede the statue’s strict waiting period, Judge Remington found, based on the allegations outlined by American Oversight in its complaint, the panel would have “plainly violated the open meetings law.”