Monday, November 5, 2018

Media organizations file motion in Weidner sealed records case

From The Journal

Sandy Weidner
RACINE — Five media organizations are trying to intervene in the ongoing public records lawsuit between 6th District Alderman Sandy Weidner, the City of Racine and City Attorney Scott Letteney.

Last week, media organizations filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, requesting that legal documents related to the case be unsealed.

The case was sealed in February by Racine County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, but began receiving media attention in September after Weidner spoke with the Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the issue.

“The big thing for everyone to understand: This is not a feud between myself and the city attorney,” Weidner told The Journal Times.

She said the issue arose as a result of “different understandings” of what is considered confidential by Letteney as compared to prior city attorneys. Letteney was appointed in summer 2015 after having served as a deputy city attorney for almost 10 years.

The motion

 “This is one of the more extraordinary cases of excessive secrecy,” Bill Lueders, the president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, told The Journal Times. “We hope the appellate court will act quickly to reverse this case … (and) the poor decisions on part of a Racine judge.”

The five organizations filing the lawsuit are the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the USA Today Network-Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (which is distributed through USA Today Network-Wisconsin).

“The reasoning behind the Seal Orders and Open Records Decision remains unknown to the public. Indeed, all pleadings are under seal, and even the docket is unavailable for viewing by order of Judge Gasiorkiewicz,” the motion reads.

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