2014 photo provided by Andy Haas Schneider for the Schimel
campaign shows Republican attorney general candidate Brad
Schimel. A judge scheduled a hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 22,
2014, over a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Democratic Party
to get law enforcement training videos made by Schimel.
Wisconsin Democrats filed the lawsuit saying they think the
footage might show Schimel made inappropriate remarks at the
MADISON — A
judge ordered the state Department of Justice on Thursday to release
videos of two training seminars Republican attorney general hopeful
Brad Schimel gave for prosecutors but decided to give the agency
time to appeal the ruling, a move that could push the release past
Democratic Party believes Schimel, the Waukesha County district
attorney, made inappropriate remarks at five DOJ-run training
seminars since 2009. Schimel has denied those allegations but
Democrats have filed a lawsuit demanding the agency turn over videos
of each presentation.
Dane County Circuit
Judge Richard Niess gave the DOJ until midday Friday to release the
videos. But he said an appeal before the deadline arrives would
trigger an automatic stay until Monday morning, when he would hold a
hearing to decide whether to extend the stay or order the videos
General Anthony Russomanno told Niess that the DOJ almost certainly
will appeal. A Niess decision to extend the stay likely would ensure
the videos aren't released for weeks or months, depriving Democrats
of what they hope could be a potent weapon against Schimel, who is
locked in a tight race with Democrat Susan Happ.
Mike Bauer, an
attorney for the Democratic Party, said the party got tips that
Schimel made offensive remarks during presentations in 2013, 2012,
2010 and 2009.
Democrats filed an
open records request with the DOJ in September seeking videos of
each of his presentations from those sessions. The agency denied the
request last week.
DOJ officials said
they couldn't find three of the videos. They did locate a recording
from 2009 in which Schimel discusses strategies for prosecuting
online child sex predators and one from 2013 that features him
talking about how he handled the victims in a high-profile case
involving a man who posed as a female on Facebook in 2008.
The man, Anthony
Stancl, convinced at least 31 boys to send him naked pictures of
themselves, which he in turn used to blackmail them into performing
sex acts on him. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2010.
The DOJ said
releasing the videos from Schimel's presentations would reveal law
enforcement strategy and compromise victim privacy, prompting the
Niess said he
viewed the two training seminar videos in private and saw nothing
unusual, at one point remarking that they made his eyes glaze over.
He heard nothing
new about law enforcement's strategies in the 2009 video, saying
most of the tactics Schimel discussed have been shown repeatedly on
television shows such as "To Catch a Predator." Technology
has changed so much over the last five years that the video is
essentially obsolete, he added.
As for the 2013
video, the judge noted that Schimel spoke about lessons he learned
in dealing with victims that everyone could use in their lives.
Schimel didn't identify any specific victims, the case already has
been widely publicized and parents could use Schimel's information
to better protect their children, he said.