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Wisconsin Supreme Court expected to rule on newspaper legal bills issue today

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Judges gavel and stryker By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Judges gavel and stryker By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court was expected to rule Tuesday on whether Juneau County officials have to provide unedited copies of legal bills to a newspaper in Mauston.

The Star-Times asked for the full legal bills in 2010 from an investigation into a county sheriff’s officer.

The county’s insurance carrier hired a law firm and paid the attorney fees. The firm released edited documents with information that was blacked out.

The Star-Times then sued the county, saying it violated the state Open Records Law. But a circuit judge in Mauston said the legal bills were not public records – and even if they were, the county had the right to black out certain information because of attorney-client privileges.

A state appeals court reversed the ruling, saying the entire documents must be released. The county then appealed to the Supreme Court. 

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