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A Racine County judge said he’s only sealed one case in his career. The case he chose to hide from taxpayers and Racine city residents? A petition for access to public records.
The unusual case, now on appeal but also absent from the Court of Appeals web-based index, has only come to light because a maverick Racine Common Council member got tired of what she calls growing secrecy and concentrated power in her local government.
“To me, it’s a huge issue,” said Sandy Weidner. “I’m willing to defy the judge’s order that it’s sealed.”
Advocates for open government are astounded and have never heard of a public records suit being sealed, or any kind of case without some record of who the parties are and why it was under seal.
“Everything I know about this case seems atrocious,” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
“These communications should never have been withheld. The trial court judge should never have allowed this matter to be adjudicated in secret. His decision should not have been sealed. The appellate court should not have allowed this secrecy to extend to the appeal.”
“These are low-level communications from local residents about local issues, not the Pentagon Papers,” Lueders said.
Patrick Kabat, a First Amendment lawyer in Cleveland who leads a First Amendment clinic at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, said it’s unheard of for a judge to seal an entire case without some public record of why.
“This is not a public records issue, it’s a courts access issue,” he said, “and state open meetings law doesn’t control that, it can’t be wished away.”
Kabat said his clinic’s focus is “reminding courts there are two parties in front of them, but the forgotten third party is the public. And its right is enforceable.”
“We have probably the worst council I’ve seen — naive, inexperienced — and so the city attorney was trying to control it all himself,” Spodick said. “Stuff never gets the light of day. He’s scaring the other council members by making Sandy an example of what happens to ‘troublemakers.’ ”
The criminals public officials who operate Racine County and the City always seems able to find a willing Racine County Circuit Judge who will hide their misdeeds and provide cover – while a comatose public remains complacent to the crimes being committed daily by Racine County and City Officials.
Does anyone remember when Racine County Circuit (Circus might actually fit better) Judge Gerald Ptacek ruled that John Dickert was acting in his official capacity as Mayor while he was campaigning during a radio interview at WRJN? Thus forcing City of Racine taxpayers to pay John Dickert’s S100,000 legal bills? A ruling which any competent Judge or conscious public would know was – at best – LAUGHABLE, and downright contrary to the laws of State of Wisconsin! Because IF John Dickert was campaigning while Mayor, it would be a criminal act! And YES! Racine County Judge Gerald Ptacek is laughing at the fools of City of Racine who paid up!
WHAT A SURPRISE!
And now here comes Racine County Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, after meeting with lawyers in his chambers (concerning Sandy Weidner’s Open Records lawsuit) , telling others there for the hearing that they had to leave because he was sealing the case.
The judge said recently he sealed the case “because of the nature of the action. It’s one that shouldn’t be open. I made a public policy determination.”
But wasn’t it an open records case? “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s sealed,” Gasiorkiewicz said.
And yeah – this is the same Racine County Circuit Judge who sentenced convicted Billionaire Child Molestor Curt Johnson to only 4 months in jail…..
In Racine County – anything goes for those with Political Power, Connections, or Wealth!
Three years and a lengthy court case later, the 59-year-old heir to “the family company,” as the cleaning product empire is known, is out of jail after just three months.
As the Racine Journal Times in S.C. Johnson’s company town of Racine, Wisc. first reported, Johnson was released on Sunday. He served three months of his four month sentence, which was reduced thanks to time served.
The convicted child molester, worth $2.7 billion, also paid a $6,000 fine as part of his punishment for two misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty to both back in June.
Both charges were drastically amended; Johnson was initially charged with repeated sexual assault of a child, which is a felony.
The corrupt Courts and Judges of Racine County are just there to provide cover for the criminal misdeeds of Public Officials and the wealthy – it happens again, and again, and again. Anything goes for those with the right political connections.