Usually attorneys talk with their clients before launching major legal actions.
But when Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's Department of Justice launched an effort to appeal Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi's order blocking publication of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union law, the state lawyers did not even discuss the matter with the supposed "petitioner" in their action.
Van Hollen's lawyers claimed in their filings to be representing Secretary of State Doug La Follette. The "Petition for Leave to Appeal" filed by the Department of Justice lawyers concludes with the words "Secretary La Follette respectfully requests ... an ex parte order granting temporary relief from the TRO entered by Judge Sumi on March 18, 2011."
But the Department of Justice attorneys did not consult La Follette about whether he has any objection to Sumi's order. If they had, they would know that the secretary of state is not complaining about the judge's order. Indeed, La Follette says, he has already acted in accordance with it, in a move that he says allows him to "fulfill the public trust in my office."
The secretary of state delayed publication of the law because of his own concerns regarding the legal wrangling over the measure as well as his desire to help local officials resolve questions and confusion regarding the sweeping measure. "Based on the temporary restraining order entered on March 18, 2011, I have ordered 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 not be published until further notice," he says. "This means that the act will not become law until the present legal issues surrounding the act are resolved."
La Follette, the state's longest-serving constitutional officer, adds: "The Circuit Court that entered the temporary restraining order has scheduled a March 29, 2011, hearing to determine whether the Wisconsin open meetings law was violated. I intend to fulfill the public trust in my office by abiding by the temporary restraining order, by respecting the court's decision and by allowing the judicial process to reach a conclusion regarding 2011 Wisconsin Act 10."
Unlike others, La Follette has during this ordeal respected his oath of office and the duties required of him as an elected official.
The appeals court judges who will be considering whether to lift Sumi''s order would do well to consider La Follette's statement, as opposed to the shamefully deceptive "petition" filed by Van Hollen's lawyers.
The attorney general and his minions are acting as politicians, not lawyers.
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor email@example.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.