WNA wins right to challenge secret public records case

RACINE – The WNA and other media organizations have won the right to challenge a Racine County judge’s decision to seal a Racine alderman’s public records case.

A three-judge panel of the District II Court of Appeals last week ordered Racine County Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz to “determine which specific documents” from the record, “if any,” should remain blocked from public view.

“The general rule in Wisconsin is that all court filings are presumptively open for public inspection,” the panel stated in its order. “It appears to this court that the circuit court’s order sealing the entire record is, at the very least, broader than necessary to protect the interests at stake, given the presumption of openness in public records.”

Also included among the group of challengers is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.