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Supreme Court vacates Judge Colas' contempt order


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has ruled on a motion in the Madison Teachers vs. Scott Walker Act 10 case.

Dane County Judge Juan Colas had ruled that Rodney Pasch and James R. Scott from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission were in contempt of court for continuing union certification elections when he had ruled the elections illegal. Pasch and Scott had filed an emergency motion to stay the contempt order. Yesterday, Supreme Court Justices decided that Judge Colas no longer had jurisdiction to issue the contempt order since the case file had been transferred to the Appellate Court over a year before Colas found the state employees in contempt of court.

The Supreme Court ruling states, “We conclude that the contempt order issued subsequent to the appeal from the circuit court declaratory judgment constituted an impermissible interference with the appellate jurisdiction of this court. We therefore exercise our superintending authority to vacate the contempt order, which renders the State Defendants’ motion to stay the contempt order mute.”

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the motion was not unanimous. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley were the dissenting justices. In their written opinion, Abrahamson and Bradley said the ruling authorizes the executive to disobey judges orders, keeps circuit courts from protecting their judgements, and ignores the Supreme Court’s prior restraint in applying broad superintending powers to ordinary circumstances. They also felt not allowing the six non-party unions to have oral arguments was not fair.

It’s unknown when the Supreme Court will rule on the entire Madison Teachers vs. Scott Walker case.