According to reports, the testimony before Judge Sumi this morning regarded, in part, the fact that the March 9 Senate Committee meeting to re-work the budget bill (because 14 Democrats had fled), took place in a small room which only could hold 20 spectators, and access to the Capitol was restricted to a single entrance for crowd control purposes (and even then, a closed entrance was breached).
This, the Democratic District Attorney who brought the lawsuit claims, was a breach of the Open Meetings Law and even Senate Rules. The D.A. called a witness to testify that 3000 people wanted to attend but were denied, as reported by JSOnline:
Nearly 3,000 people tried to get into a key March 9 legislative conference committee meeting, but were unable to do so, a witness testified Friday in Dane County Circuit Court.Clearly, the committee meeting should have taken place in a stadium, so that all these people -- who trapped a Republican Senator outside the Capitol on March 1, could have attended:
Rich Judge, chief of staff to Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), said 2,967 signed their names on a spontaneous petition when they couldn't get into the meeting where Republican legislators quickly passed a controversial portion of Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. The petition was dropped off at Barca's office.
Update 3:45 p.m. Eastern - The court concluded the hearing. No ruling was made as to whether there was an Open Meeting Violation (and thus no court ruling on the D.A.'s charges with regard to room and building access), but the Judge continued the TRO against the Secretary of State until the case concludes saying she had heard nothing that would cause her to vacate the TRO.
This means that the "temporary" injunction will remain for at least several weeks, because the necessary parties, namely the legislators, have immunity during and for a period of time before and after the legislative session which starts next week. The Court requested briefing on that issue and the merits of the case, with the final briefs not due for about 7 weeks.
I hate to make gloomy predictions, but based on the court rulings so far, it is likely Judge Sumi will find an Open Meetings Violation.
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