WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- The issue of if a government committee member can make an audio or video recording of a closed-session meeting for their own purposes may be reviewed by a judge. That is what Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett asked Marathon County’s Executive Committee for permission to do Wednesday.
Corbett is asking for a judge to review the recently passed ordinance and issue what’s called a declaratory judgement. “Well, that’s a method under Wisconsin law where you can go to court and have a dispute decided by the court without having to have filed an actual lawsuit or have a violation of an ordinance.”
Marathon County Board Supervisor Oliver Burrows contends that he should be allowed to record the meetings which he is already entitled to participate in so there is an accurate record of what happened. “What we’re also talking about here, I believe, is a 14th Amendment situation about due process. If I want to bring an action, I want to be able to have an accurate of what occurred, as well as if I’m called to be deposed as to what I said and did.”
Corbett canvassed other Wisconsin counties, and he found none with any rules, procedures, or policies regulating electronic recording of closed session meetings. “I did receive a couple of responses saying no, they didn’t have such a rule, and a couple of other responses saying they have a policy against such a thing, but no specific rules like we’ve adopted.” Corbett did not ask the other counties if they already record every meeting.
When asked, “What if the county recorded all meetings, would this satisfy this concern?” Burrows doesn’t believe it would. “I don’t think so, because again, if a board member comes into conflict with the board as a whole, what’s going to happen is that there’s the possibility of contention over the release of those recordings under discovery because of the fact that you have one party, a supervisor, a board member, against the body politic if you will, the board as a whole.”
The Executive Committee voted 5-4 to approve requesting a judge make a declaratory judgement, which both Counselor Corbett and Supervisor Burrows agree would be beneficial to avoid legal proceedings. Expect that request to go before the full county board next Tuesday.