Case Name: Rice v. Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors

Type of Case: Open Meetings

Court: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Case #: 2011-CV-9399

Filed on: June 17, 2011

Current status: Judgment for Plaintiff; forfeiture assessed against Defendants

On April 21, 2011, the Milwaukee County Board passed a tentative redistricting plan based on the 2010 decennial U.S. census. This proposed plan reduced the number of supervisors by one, eliminating the seat held by Joseph Rice, one of the Board’s few conservative members. However, the Board had failed to provide any notice in its pre-meeting agenda that it would be considering the redistricting issue. After Supervisor Rice objected to proceeding on the issue without the legally-required notice to the public, the Board attempted to issue an “emergency” notice.

On behalf of Supervisor Rice, WILL filed a complaint in Milwaukee County Circuit Court alleging that the Board and its Chairman, Lee Holloway, had violated Wisconsin’s Open Meeting Law. After a summary judgment hearing, Judge Jane Carroll held for Supervisor Rice, formally declaring that the Board had violated Open Meetings Law. Although the court decided not to undo all of the work that had gone into redistricting, it did levy the maximum penalty against the Board as a whole and Chairman Holloway individually.