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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Wisconsin AG Keeps|Tight Grip on Videos

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - Wisconsin's attorney general asked judges again to delay release of training videos that allegedly show him making racist and sexist comments while he was Waukesha County district attorney.

The Department of Justice on Thursday petitioned the state Supreme Court to review two lower court rulings ordering release of the videos, which the Democratic Party of Wisconsin claims show Attorney General Brad Schimel making "offensive racial remarks and ethnic slurs, including but not limited to stereotyped accents, as well as sexist remarks" during a statewide prosecutors education conference.

Schimel, a Republican, won the November 2014 election by 176,000 votes and took office in January.

Schimel has fought the release, saying: "These two recordings deal with sensitive subject matter that involves the training of prosecutors to successfully prosecute child predators."

In an Oct. 16 statement he said, not surprisingly, that he agrees with the recommendation of his own Department of Justice, "to appeal the Court of Appeals decision that ordered disclosure of training videos for prosecutors in 2009 and 2013."

"The decision by Attorney General Van Hollen in 2014 to withhold disclosure of these videos was based on sound principles of victim protection and maintaining confidentiality of prosecutorial techniques," Schimel said in the statement.

His predecessor, J.B. Van Hollen, also a Republican, did not seek a third term last year.

The state Democratic Party sued for release of the tapes on Oct. 21, 2014, after the state denied its requests for access. State judge have ordered the tapes released twice.

They have remained under seal pursuant to an Oct. 30, 2014 stay in Dane County Court, which the state's Second District Court of Appeals dissolved on Oct. 15 this year.

That unsigned ruling states : "The DOJ did not meet its burden to show that the public's interest would be served by keeping the video recordings confidential."

What the videos show Schimel saying remains unknown to anyone who was not at the conference.

He said in the Oct. 16 statement that they "include the training of law enforcement using techniques that constitute a playbook of how to investigate those cases, as well as a presentation of a high-profile case during which sensitive victim information otherwise not in the public record was discussed in detail."

Dane County Judge Richard Niess, who watched the videos in chambers before ordering their release last year, said he saw "nothing that can be considered misconduct on the part of any presenters, at least not as far as I could see."

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