Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lassa-Rongstad Case Before Supreme Court Today

The state's high court is due to hear oral arguments this morning in the political case of Julie Lassa vs. Todd Rongstad.

This Dane County case originated as a defamation action filed by a public official (Lassa) against the publishers of an anonymous attack mailer featuring Former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala. According to a court synopsis, the Supreme Court is expected to clarify when the identity of anonymous speakers must be disclosed in a defamation proceeding.

In the Supreme Court, the synopsis says, Rongstad argues that the First Amendment protects the identities of the members of his group. He cites federal cases that establish that groups engaged in political expression need not reveal the names of their members to the government as such disclosure might serve to restrain the freedom of association.

Now-state Sen. Lassa, on the other hand, argues that the constitutional privilege against disclosure is not absolute. She says that group members cannot be permitted to hide behind the privilege when they have acted wrongfully.

See a WisPolitics.com story from October 2003, when a settlement was announced: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=2783

Also before the court today are a case involving the DNR's pier rules and State v. John R. Maloney, the case stemming from the February 1998 death of Sandra Maloney and the subsequent murder conviction of her estranged husband, Green Bay police officer John R. Maloney. The Supreme Court is expected to decide if Maloney will receive a new trial.

See this post for case background from the Supreme Court.

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