United States: An open records lawsuit filed against former Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Judge Patience Roggensack was dropped on Tuesday after she gave up all papers pertaining to her work investigating the probable impeachment of a sitting judge.
None of the materials released earlier last month by Roggensack offered any insight on the impeachment recommendations she gave to Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Vos has stated that he discussed the impeachment of Justice Janet Protasiewicz with Roggensack over the phone but has declined to reveal what her suggestion was. Roggensack has likewise been silent about what she told Vos, according to the reports by Associated Press.
The Counsel’s Stand
David Prosser and Jon Wilcox, two other former justices Vos consulted for advice, likewise advocated against impeachment.
The leftist watchdog organization American Oversight filed a lawsuit against Vos, Prosser, Wilcox, and Roggensack to get any information pertaining to the potential impeachment. The organization also charged the three former justices with violating the state’s open meetings legislation.
In November, Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington rejected the open meetings claim, stating that American Oversight submitted its claim too soon and should have given the district attorney time to determine whether to bring his own complaint. Ismael Ozanne, the District Attorney for Dane County, opted not to press charges.
Remington previously denied Prosser and Wilcox’s open records complaints when they submitted records. He gave Roggensack 30 days in November to give over whatever records she possessed. Roggensack stated in a court filing on December 8 that she had no responsive records other than what had already been made public.
Her attorney, Bob Shumaker, confirmed that again in court on Tuesday.
The judge dismissed the complaint against her after American Oversight’s attorney, Ben Sparks, agreed to drop it.
AP noted that the open records claim against Vos remained unresolved. His attorney, Matthew Fernholz, stated on Tuesday that Vos has already turned over all his paperwork. He disclosed over 20,000 pages of papers in November. The court scheduled a status hearing for January 25.
Impeachment Threats Resurface
Vos first stated that if Protasiewicz did not withdraw herself from the redistricting issue, he would pursue impeachment. She did not recuse herself. Following the past justices’ advice against impeachment, Vos did not proceed to impeach her. However, he is now threatening to impeach her if she does not decide in favor of keeping the present Republican-drawn maps.
Impeachment in Wisconsin is reserved for “corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors.” Republicans claim Protasiewicz has pre-judged the issue based on campaign statements she made calling the existing maps “unfair” and “rigged,” according to AP.
Protasiewicz stated in her decision not to recuse herself from the case because while she expressed her view on the maps, she never promised or pledged how she would decide on the matter.
In November, the court heard the redistricting case, which may result in new maps being in place by the 2024 election. The court is anticipated to rule shortly.