MADISON (CN) - Wisconsin voters will not go to the polls Tuesday knowing whether the attorney-general candidate made racist and sexist remarks, thanks to a court-ordered stay.
Though the Dane County Circuit Court ordered the state Justice Department to release the sought-after videos on Thursday, Judge Richard Niess entered a stay Monday to preserve appellate rights.
The videos in question stem from the Statewide Prosecutors Education conference. Wisconsin's Democratic Party claims to have received a tip of Waukesha County district attorney Brad Schimel making "offensive racial remarks and ethnic slurs, including but not limited to stereotyped accents, as well as sexist remarks."
Shimel is running for state attorney general against Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, a Democrat who has focused heavily on women's issues in her campaign.
The Democratic Party may appeal Judge Niess' stay ahead of Election Day, their attorney, Daniel Bach, said at Monday's hearing.
"There should be a compelling reason why the public isn't entitled to see these tapes today, and I don't know it," Bach said.
If the tapes are not released in the next 24 to 48 hours, "the public interest has been harmed and harmed irreparably," Bach said.
Niess reiterated in court Monday that, having reviewed the videos, he did not see any misconduct.
He also restated that he found "zero evidence" in the DOJ's case supporting its allegation that releasing the videos would harm crime victims enough to justify keeping public records confidential.
Although Niess said he did not think the DOJ's case has much chance on appeal, releasing the videos would ruin a chance for a de novo review of the case.
"There is injury if the due process is not allowed to work," Niess said.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.