A Dane County judge wants to appoint a mediator to help settle disputes in a lawsuit over public access to the state Capitol building. Judge John Albert made the suggestion Friday, after both sides failed to reach an agreement on appointing a “special master” in the case. That person would have acted like a judge in resolving the dispute.
Albert says the original solution proved to be “unworkable” and noted he is trying to set up a mediator both sides can agree to work with. The Judge says that individual could help resolve the entire case.
The judge is also considering an order that would set a deadline for the state to complete reports relating to security at the Capitol. It would also require the union groups suing the state to explain why they believe a court order to restore full access to the building is being violated.
The lawsuit was sparked by extra security put in place at the Capitol after protests erupted in February over the Governor’s collective bargaining bill. State officials began blocking off sections of the building and locking doors. As the Legislature made a push to complete work on the bill, Judge Albert issued a temporary order in March requiring the state to restore building access to where it was before the protests started.
Months later, entrances to the Capitol remains restricted to just two doors and metal detectors are now in place to screen visitors. Department of Justice Attorney Maria Lazar maintains those rules are in compliance with the judge’s order, which recognized the need for the state to maintain order in the building.
Attorney Peg Lautenschlager, who is representing the unions, told the judge they hope to see a resolution soon, rather than months down the road.
Both sides are expected back in court next week and the judge could issue his order at that time.