Wisconsin Judge Compels Ex-Chief Justice to Surrender Impeachment-Related Documents

by Madison Thomas
Wisconsin impeachment controversy

In Wisconsin, a recent judicial order has mandated that Patience Roggensack, the former Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court, disclose any records concerning her counsel to the Republican Assembly Speaker on potentially impeaching a sitting justice.

Roggensack, alongside two other ex-Supreme Court Justices, was approached by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for guidance on impeaching Justice Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal judge. This inquiry is rooted in Protasiewicz’s impending decision on a controversial redistricting lawsuit, which Democrats hope will lead to revised legislative electoral maps.

American Oversight, a progressive watchdog group, filed a lawsuit to obtain records from Vos and the three ex-justices. While Vos, David Prosser, and Jon Wilcox complied, providing various documents including Prosser’s email dissuading impeachment, Roggensack remains the sole former justice yet to submit any records.

In an encounter at Roggensack’s residence, a process server was unable to serve her a subpoena, with an elderly man at the door denying knowledge of her.

Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington, emphasizing Wisconsin’s commitment to transparent governance, gave Roggensack a 30-day deadline to produce any relevant records. Remington highlighted the obligation of all former justices to disclose such documents, irrespective of their initial understanding of the task.

No response was received from Robert Shumaker, Roggensack’s attorney, following requests for comments.

Recently disclosed records from Vos, now publicly available, reveal a text conversation where he discusses a potential poll by the conservative Institute for Reforming Government on judicial recusal, aiming to sway public opinion. Vos’s texts suggest leveraging the Institute’s resources for this purpose.

Initially, Vos contemplated impeaching Protasiewicz if she didn’t recuse herself from the redistricting case. Despite her decision to stay on, Vos held back on impeachment, aligning with the advice from the former justices. However, he now indicates possible impeachment if Protasiewicz rules against the current Republican-crafted maps.

The Wisconsin Constitution delineates impeachment criteria as “corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors.”

Republicans allege that Protasiewicz’s campaign comments, labeling the current maps as “unfair” and “rigged”, indicate bias. Protasiewicz, however, clarified that her campaign remarks were not a commitment to how she would rule in the case.

The redistricting lawsuit, coinciding with Protasiewicz’s addition to the court that tipped the liberal-conservative balance, seeks to have all state lawmakers compete in new districts next election. The Republican-led Legislature’s 2011 maps have fortified their majorities, a factor highlighted by an AP analysis as evidence of one of the nation’s most gerrymandered districts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wisconsin impeachment controversy

What was the Wisconsin judge’s recent order regarding the former chief justice?

A Wisconsin judge ordered the former Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Patience Roggensack, to produce records related to her advice given to the Republican Assembly Speaker on whether to impeach a current justice.

Who is involved in the potential impeachment controversy in Wisconsin?

The controversy involves former Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Justice Janet Protasiewicz. Vos sought advice from Roggensack and two other former justices on impeaching Protasiewicz.

What triggered the impeachment discussions against Justice Janet Protasiewicz?

Impeachment discussions were triggered by Protasiewicz’s role in a pending redistricting lawsuit, which Democrats hope will lead to new legislative electoral maps, and her alleged pre-judgment of the case based on campaign comments.

How did American Oversight get involved in the Wisconsin impeachment issue?

American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, filed a lawsuit seeking records from Robin Vos and the three former justices regarding the impeachment advice, highlighting the importance of transparency in government actions.

What stance did the former justices take on the impeachment issue?

Former Justices David Prosser and Jon Wilcox, along with Vos, turned over records suggesting a stance against impeachment. Roggensack has not disclosed her advice, leading to the judge’s order for her to produce records.

What does the Wisconsin Constitution say about impeachment?

The Wisconsin Constitution reserves impeachment for “corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors,” a criterion central to the debate over whether Justice Protasiewicz’s actions warrant impeachment.

More about Wisconsin impeachment controversy

  • Wisconsin Judge’s Order on Impeachment Records
  • Impeachment Advice Controversy in Wisconsin
  • American Oversight’s Involvement in Wisconsin Politics
  • Protasiewicz’s Role in Redistricting Lawsuit
  • Transparency in Government and Judicial Decisions
  • Constitutional Criteria for Impeachment in Wisconsin

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Dave_in_Madison November 11, 2023 - 3:42 am

This is typical of our state politics lately, No surprise here. But really, 20,000 pages from Vos? That’s a lot of reading for anyone, let alone a watchdog group!

MikeS47 November 11, 2023 - 4:43 am

Wow, this is quite the story! Politics in Wisconsin are really heating up. I mean, a former chief justice getting roped into this? Crazy times…

LegalEagle88 November 11, 2023 - 7:23 am

Interesting case from a legal perspective. The line between judicial conduct and political involvement is really blurred here. How will this affect public trust in our courts?

WisconsinPatriot November 11, 2023 - 8:26 pm

They’re all the same, politicians and judges alike. Just power plays, no real justice or concern for the people. So much for ‘open government’ huh?

JennyLovesNews November 11, 2023 - 8:59 pm

Can’t believe this is happening. Shouldn’t judges be above politics? Everything’s so polarized nowadays. What happened to impartiality in the judiciary?


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