A state Court of Appeals has rejected the state’s efforts to block media companies and First Amendment advocates from intervening in a criminal appeal of one of Scott Walker’s former aides.
In an order Wednesday, Judge Patricia Curley wrote that there’s no indication the state is pushing to unseal certain records in the case, which is what media companies want.
“Because there is no reason to believe that the interest of the Intervenors is adequately represented by the State, we deny the motion for reconsideration,” she wrote.
Earlier this month, the court allowed the group to join the appeal for the purpose of opposing a motion to seal court records filed by Kelly Rindfleisch, former deputy chief of staff to Walker when he served as Milwaukee County executive.
But last week, the state Department of Justice filed a motion urging the court to reconsider that move.
The state raised a number of arguments, including that the court should not allow intervention in criminal cases and that it didn’t have a chance to weigh in before the court made its decision.
The group’s attorney responded promptly, slamming the department for failing to push for public access to the documents.
Curley denied the Justice Department’s motion on Wednesday, saying that Wisconsin courts have repeatedly allowed media organizations to intervene “to protect public access to court records.”
Rindfleisch pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one count of felony misconduct in public office and was sentenced to six months in jail for doing campaign work out of Walker’s office, when he was Milwaukee County executive.
In her appeal before the 1st District Court of Appeals, Rindfleisch contended search warrants for her emails, home and office used in the secret “John Doe” investigation were overly broad.
The court agreed to a request from the state to add records from that closed proceeding to the appeal. But Rindfleisch is asking that those records be kept secret.
Those granted intervenor status by the court were publishers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Associated Press, Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Society of Newspaper