Explaining that a temporary injunction was necessary to avoid "irreparable harm to a constitutional democracy such as ours," on March 21, 2019, the Honorable Richard G. Niess issued an order enjoining all of the "laws" passed and all 82 appointments "confirmed" by the Wisconsin Legislature during its December 2018 "Extraordinary Session." Judge Niess determined that this was an illegal meeting, unauthorized by the Wisconsin Constitution, and therefore none of the actions taken during that meeting had any effect. He observed, "The rule of law-the very bedrock of the Wisconsin Constitution-cannot, in any respect, abide enforcement of laws that do not exist."
Last week, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed a decision in favor of a student journalist at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh who sought records about a business professor subject to prior employment investigations. The University agreed to release the records but the professor sued to block release. Pines Bach attorneys Christa Westerberg and Aaron Dumas represented the journalist at the request of the Student Press Law Center.
Last month, the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission named Attorneys Aaron Dumas and Christa Westerberg to its Pro Bono Honor Society for 2017. Each year, the Commission honors state lawyers who have helped to provide equal access to justice under the law by performing at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono legal services. Dumas and Westerberg exceeded the requirement, assisting a student journalist obtain public records, representing non-profit organizations, and helping mediate a case for a prisoner who alleged inadequate medical care while incarcerated.
Attorneys Aaron Dumas and Lester Pines settled a civil rights claim against Wisconsin State Representative, Dale Kooyenga, with the State of Wisconsin paying $30,000 in damages for Kooyenga's theft of a sign with a proper permit that had been displayed in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Kooyenga took the sign because he objected to its criticism of President Trump and his supporters. Commenting on the settlement, Lester Pines was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "We are pleased with the settlement because it is an acknowledgment by Rep. Kooyenga that he violated the Eighth Commandment-thou shall not steal."
Pines Bach partner Christa Westerberg, assisted by attorney Aaron Dumas, prevailed last week in an Open Records law case on behalf journalist and open government advocate Bill Lueders. Lueders had requested copies of emails from a state legislator and was offered over 1,500 pages of printed emails. He then requested electronic copies, was denied, and sued to obtain them.
Aaron Dumas and Lester Pines, along with attorneys from the Pittsburgh firm of Cohen & Grigsby, P.C., won an arbitration on behalf of an Pennsylvania limited liability company (LLC) in a dispute about the refusal of a Wisconsin LLC to recognize that it was bound by a purchase agreement to transfer its membership shares in a third limited liability company to the Pennsylvania company. Following a two-and-a-half day hearing in November, the arbitrator in a written decision issued on December 7, held that the Wisconsin LLC breached the agreement. The arbitrator's remedy was a specific performance order, directing that the transaction be closed and the membership shares transferred before December 31. It closed on December 20.
Last week, a Circuit Court Judge in Winnebago County ordered the University of Wisconsin (UW) to release personnel records to a student journalist represented by Attorneys Christa Westerberg and Aaron Dumas. The journalist, Alex Nemec, went to court after the University blocked his request for records related to the investigation of Will Hagen, a business professor at the UW in Oshkosh.
Pines Bach attorneys Christa Westerberg and Aaron Dumas are partnering with The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) to defend a student journalist who's seeking records from the University of Wisconsin (UW). The student, Alex Nemec, is the news editor of The Advance Titan, the student-led newspaper at UW Oshkosh. His request for records relating to the investigation of a professor has been blocked, and the case is now in court.
Professional Homecare Providers garnered another key victory in Waukesha County Court on February 14, following up on that court's ruling last September that the Department of Health Services may only recoup past payments to Medicaid providers if the Department cannot verify that the services were provided or if the Department determines that the amount paid was inaccurate or inappropriate for the services. On the Professional Homecare Providers' motion, brought by Attorney Diane Welsh, the court determined that the Department has failed to comply with the September order, violating its order and the injunction it imposed by continuing to pursue recoupments against individual nurses for prohibited reasons. As a result, the court issued a warning to the Department and ordered it to pay the providers' fees and costs for bringing the motion. Attorneys Susan Crawford and Aaron Dumas assisted in obtaining the supplemental relief sought by the Plaintiffs.