Role of open records in Wisconsin judicial races

If you live in Wisconsin and have watched any television at all the last week, you know that it is an understatement to call the current election contest between Judges Louis Butler and Michael Gableman for Wisconsin Supreme Court “fierce”.  

In this contest, political operatives on both sides have used open records requests with gleeful abandon. In both cases, records were located through FOIA requests that caused at least momentary embarrassment or confusion for their opponent.

In another Wisconsin judicial contest, police officers have complained that Municipal Judge Richard Steinberg has treated them poorly in court, also alleging that citizens in the courtroom complain about the judge. Steinberg used the FOIA process in a clever way–filing an OR request to see any complaints filed against him by ordinary citizens. None had been.

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