A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling restricts the public’s ability to recover fees when suing for records.

By Chris Young and Luke Henkhaus, July 21, 2022, Reporters Committee

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision in a public records dispute could have a dramatic impact on government transparency in the state, resulting in fewer requests for records and, as one dissenting justice put it, “a less informed electorate.”

The question at the center of the case, Friends of Frame Park v. City of Waukesha, concerned the issue of attorneys’ fees — specifically, whether the government should be responsible for paying them when a records requestor’s lawsuit leads an agency to turn over public records that were wrongfully withheld, even if it does so voluntarily.

In a 4-3 ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that a community group was not entitled to recover legal fees from the city of Waukesha under the Wisconsin Open Records Act after its lawsuit seeking access to a draft city contract ultimately prompted officials to make the document public, but without a court order forcing their hand.

Read more here:  https://www.rcfp.org/fee-shifting-public-records/