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MINOCQUA – The Wisconsin Department of Justice will pay at least $10,000 in Lakeland Times’ legal fees and costs in an open records lawsuit filed by the newspaper, wrote reporter Richard Moore.
The case was prompted by the DOJ’s refusal to provide names of disciplined law enforcement officers and DOJ employees in response to a 2017 public records request. Earlier this year, the agency reversed course and provided the law enforcement officers’ names — but refused to turn over the names of some of its own employees who had been disciplined, compelling The Times to sue for access.
Last month, Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered the DOJ to release the unredacted records. Publisher Gregg Walker hailed Bailey Rihn’s decision, but admonished the DOJ.
“There was never any reason to take any part of this case to court because the courts have consistently ruled that public employee names and records are to be released once a disciplinary investigation is completed, in the public interest of accountability,” Walker said. “The DOJ recognized they could not win at least part of the case and released those names in August, but it took them more than a year after we filed a lawsuit to do so, at a cost of thousands of dollars to taxpayers.”