Unredacted document poses legal questions

Former UWO student may be forced to destroy professor’s investigative report

A former UW Oshkosh student who was news editor of the Advance-Titan may be forced to destroy an investigative report into a former UWO business professor Willis Hagen’s behavior after the UW Oshkosh record custodian mistakenly provided the document without redactions.

Alex Nemec, who graduated in December 2017, could face a restraining order and permanent injunction, prohibiting him from “publicizing, printing, or sharing, in any manner, whether verbally, in writing, or otherwise, the contents of those portions of the records subject to redaction and furthering order Nemec to delete and destroy any and all copies” of the records.

On Oct. 4, the Department of Justice filed an emergency motion to reopen the matter and a motion for injunction after learning the documents were released without redactions. Hagen’s attorney, Peter Culp of Dempsey Law Firm, LLP, wrote a letter to the judge in full support of the motion. A telephone conference has been scheduled for Oct. 19 in Branch 6 of the Winnebago County Circuit Court.

Hagen was mysteriously removed from one of his classes early in the spring 2017 semester and students were told the class was canceled. His course load was redistributed and other teachers took over those classes. The Advance-Titan subsequently filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

On May 3, 2017, Hagen went to court to stop the release of those records, but on Sept. 22, 2017, a Winnebago County judge ordered the redacted records be released to Nemec. Hagen then appealed the decision, and on June 21, 2018, the Court of Appeals upheld the Winnebago County Circuit Court decision.

On Aug. 15, 2018, Nemec received the records from a UWO record custodian who mistakenly provided the documents without redactions. After learning of her error, the record custodian instructed Nemec to destroy any and all copies of the unredacted records that were sent to him.
But Nemec refused to destroy the documents and has continued to push for the right to publish the contents of the documents.

Hagen has continued to fight Nemec over the release and publication of documents for one year and seven months.

Nemec has been advised by his lawyer not to make any comment regarding the case. However, in the court documents, his attorney, Christa Westerberg of Pines Bach LLP, wrote, “We believe reopening the case is premature, and the Court’s involvement will ultimately be unnecessary.”
Hagen did not respond to several attempts for a comment from the Advance-Titan.”