'Quarrel with the legislature': Accusations fly with open-records request to Judicial Council.

 
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Byline: Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

An open-records request the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has made to the Wisconsin Judicial Council is coming with a series of accusations of poor procedure and misrepresentation.

WMC submitted the request to the Judicial Council meeting on Oct. 18. WMC is seeking any records and communications that members of the Judicial Council sent or received from July 1 to Oct. 18 on matters related to the Wisconsin Legislative Council, WMC and Wisconsin Civil Justice Council.

Concerns about affiliation

Cory Fish, general counsel for WMC, said members of his organization are interested in learning more about the Judicial Council's possible affiliation to the Legislative Council.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, has been working with the Legislative Council on a partnership between the two agencies. In May, Wanggaard said bringing the two councils together could help end the Judicial Council's budget troubles. Money for the the Judicial Council's staff legal counsel was cut in the state's previous budget.

WMC's open-records request is meant to provide an understanding of how the idea to connect the two councils came about.

"Our primary concern is watching a committee of the Legislature undo the will of the entire Legislature if that vote would take place," said Fish. "Two consecutive sessions of Legislature have determined that the Judicial Council does not deserve to be funded with state resources."

Bill Gleisner, Brookfield attorney and chair of the Judicial Council, said he understands why WMC submitted its open-records request and believes it's reasonable.

"They want to make sure the Legislative Council isn't spending a bunch of taxpayer money that isn't allocated to Judicial Council without permission from the legislature," Gleisner said. "That would not be the case."

Gleisner said the Judicial Council would share office space with the Legislative Council, giving members a place to keep files, a cubicle to use and some staff support.

"It's a poor substitute for having our own legal counsel, but it would be better than nothing," said Gleisner.

'Quarrel with the Legislature': A disagreement over representation

Fish also raised concerns about the council's practices and representation. He said he emailed and mailed the request to Gleisner 18 or 19 business days before submitting it in person on Friday. He said Gleisner...

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