Racine City Council Alder Sandy Weidner appeared in Racine County Circuit Court Tuesday September 25, 2018 facing contempt of court charges.
She is accused of violating court orders by speaking to news media about an open records case that has been sealed by Circuit Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz.
During a closed session meeting, Racine City Attorney Scott Letteney gave a PowerPoint presentation about some Common Council members using their city email account to send confidential information to constituents. Letteney was allegedly seeking “an advisory opinion from the city’s Ethics Board on whether the aldermen’s actions violated the city’s ethics ordinance,” according to a story by the Journal Sentinel.
Weidner told the Journal Sentinel she felt that Letteney was trying “everything in his power to ‘monitor my behavior.’”
Ultimately the matter was referred to the Ethics Board. Weidner requested copies of the presentation, but Letteney refused to give them citing that they were privileged because the committee had met in closed session.
After Weidner went to the media, a contempt of court charge was filed against her. At the hearing Tuesday, Gasiorkiewicz chastised her for not complying with the seal order, according to a story by the Journal Times.
According to the story:
“This court’s position, ma’am, is that whether or not you agree or disagree with my seal order, it is the order of this court,” Gasiorkiewicz told Weidner at the hearing. “You must be compliant with that order, even if you think it is imprudent or an abuse of exercise of discretion, you must be compliant with that order until a court of appeals, which your present council has brought before it as an issue, makes its determination.”
Although the court calendar outside Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz’s courtroom indicates that the hearing for Racine City Council Alder Sandy Weidner on contempt of court charges Tuesday September 25, 2018 will be closed, the judge said he never intended to close the contempt of court hearing to the public.
Weidner’s attorney, Mark Hinkston, had to withdraw from the case so Judge Gasiorkiewicz reschedule the matter for October 3 to give her time to find a new attorney.