Posted by madcityradio.com on September 24, 2009 at 17:59:22:
by Bill Novak@The Capital Times
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by The Capital Times against Gov. Jim Doyle over the long-delayed release of records regarding three circuit court judge appointments in Dane County.
The motion to dismiss contends the newspaper has no legal standing to pursue a lawsuit because state statutes don't address awarding damages when a release of public records is delayed, and also because punitive damages were sought without actual damages being sought.
The state also contends in its motion that once records have been released, "there is no cause of action under the public records law."
Asst. Atty. Gen. Steven Means filed the motion to dismiss with Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust on Wednesday.
The suit was brought by the newspaper after documents requested on June 4 by Capital Times reporter Mike Miller weren't produced by the governor's office until July 8, 34 days after the public records request was made.
The newspaper said the 34-day wait for the documents was unreasonable and filed the lawsuit on July 30.
"The law prohibits unreasonable delay in releasing public records," said Paul Fanlund, editor of The Capital Times. "It seems the governor's office is saying they can't be sanctioned if they delay 35 days or 350 days, as long as they produce records before a suit is filed. Our lawyer will have a formal response in the next few weeks."
On the day the documents were released to the newspaper, Doyle announced the three new judges.
Reasons given by gubernatorial officials for the delay in the release of the documents were varied. In one instance Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner told Miller that Doyle's former legal counsel, Chandra Miller-Fienen, first had to review the letters to address privacy standards.
Soon thereafter Miller-Fienen resigned as the governor's legal counsel when it was discovered she wasn't licensed to practice law in Wisconsin.
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