Court Sets Hearing in Vos Secret Impeachment Panel Lawsuit

American Oversight released the following statement after the Dane County Circuit Court set a date for a hearing to prevent Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ impeachment panel from meeting in secret.

Statement from Heather Sawyer, Executive Director at American Oversight:

“Given that Speaker Vos has tasked his panel to conclude its work ‘within weeks,’ time remains of the essence, which is why we sought immediate relief through this lawsuit. During today’s hearing, Justice Prosser admitted that the group has met at least once but refused to tell the court who was involved — only heightening concerns about government secrecy. We are glad the court is moving forward with this matter, and we urge the District Attorney to act quickly to bring the workings of this secretive panel into the light of day.”

Today’s hearing in the Dane County Circuit Court involved American Oversight’s request for a temporary restraining order that would require the secret panel to comply with Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. Stating his belief that American Oversight had established a “likelihood of success on the merits,” Judge Frank Remington allowed the District Attorney more time to investigate before further court action and set a hearing date for Oct. 19.

During a radio interview earlier this month, Vos said that he was “asking a panel of former members of the state supreme court to review and advise … what the criteria are for impeachment” of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she does not recuse herself from a redistricting-related case. The Associated Press reported in September that former Justice David T. Prosser Jr. was one of three members of the panel, though Vos had refused to disclose the names of the other two. 

American Oversight filed a complaint on Sept. 20 with the Dane County District Attorney, asking the office to void any actions that did not comply with the Open Meetings Law and to take steps to prevent further secret meetings. On Monday, the group filed a lawsuit and emergency motion asking the court to issue an order preventing the panel from violating the law.

During Friday’s hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order, Prosser refused to name the other members of the panel but said that he and two others had met for lunch to discuss the issue.