Wisconsin Court Sets Hearing Date in American Oversight’s Impeachment Panel Lawsuit

The Dane County Circuit Court today set a hearing date of Nov. 10 to address nonprofit watchdog American Oversight’s public records litigation against Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and his secret impeachment panel. The District Attorney has until Oct. 25 to move to intervene in the case regarding American Oversight’s claims under the state’s Open Meetings Law.

American Oversight filed suit last month alleging that any meetings held by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ panel of former state Supreme Court justices, set up to advise on the potential impeachment of Justice Janet Protasiewicz, have been in violation of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. Earlier this week, American Oversight amended its complaint to include claims under the state’s Open Records Law, asking the court to order the release of public records related to impeachment considerations.

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer:

“American Oversight’s litigation has led to key details about the panel’s membership and their recommendations against impeachment coming to light, but there is still much the public doesn’t know about the panel’s work. We look forward to continuing the fight to ensure that any meetings are held in public view and that the people of Wisconsin have the records to which they are entitled.”

During a hearing on Sept. 29, Judge Frank Remington had set today’s date to allow the Dane County District Attorney more time to investigate before further court action.

At that hearing, former Justice David Prosser — at the time the only known member of the panel — referenced a lunch meeting with other members to discuss expectations for the work. Prosser later released records to American Oversight that included his recommendation to Vos against pursuing impeachment. Court filings in the lawsuit also revealed that former Justices Patience Roggensack and Jon Wilcox were the other two members of the panel.

Vos had threatened to impeach Protasiewicz if she did not recuse herself from upcoming redistricting-related cases before the state Supreme Court. Earlier this month, Protasiewicz announced that she would not be recusing herself. While two of the three members of the panel recommended to Vos not to pursue impeachment for that decision, Vos said last week that impeachment was still “on the table” depending on how she rules.

During the hearing on Thursday, Vos’ lawyers said that Vos’ office was preparing to release records requested by American Oversight related to the panel’s work and the potential impeachment of Protasiewicz.