State Supreme Court rejects Vos attempt to avoid deposition in records case

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is scheduled to sit for a deposition with a liberal watchdog group Wednesday after the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied his last-ditch effort to avoid it.

Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered Vos to sit for the deposition earlier this month as part of a lawsuit filed by American Oversight. The group filed an open records request with Vos last year seeking emails connected to an investigation he ordered of the 2020 presidential election. Bailey-Rihn ruled in November that Vos had “unjustifiably withheld and refused to release” the records.

Vos challenged the order but was twice rejected, first by a unanimous District 3 Court of Appeals and then Tuesday night by a divided Wisconsin Supreme Court, where conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s three liberals to uphold the deposition order.

Hagedorn took issue with the way Vos’ attorneys had presented the case, which was a “petition for supervisory writ” rather than an appeal of a lower court ruling.

“This petition comes nowhere close to meeting these legal standards,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following the law here means the petition must be denied.”

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Justices Annette Ziegler, Patience Roggensack and Rebecca Bradley dissented, writing that there was “zero support in the law” that a sitting legislator could be deposed during an ongoing session of the Legislature. But Hagedorn said it’s up to Vos to make that legal argument and the court can’t do it for him.

“Our task is to decide disputes based on the claims raised by the parties, not picking sides and not preferring any particular outcome,” Hagedorn wrote. “The rule of law compels no less.”

The ruling was the latest case where Hagedorn broke with conservatives, having previously ruled with the court’s liberals in several lawsuits challenging the 2020 election.

Vos is scheduled to sit for the private deposition with attorneys for American Oversight at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The case is one of several connected to an investigation of the 2020 presidential election being conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who was hired by Vos last June.