Prehn gets new judge in lawsuit to boot him from seat

By: - September 2, 2021 3:43 pm

Frederick Prehn | YouTube

Fred Prehn, the embattled chair of the Natural Resources Board, will have a new judge assigned to the lawsuit seeking to remove him from his post. 

Prehn’s six year term on the board expired on May 1 but he has refused to leave, saying he can stay in power until his replacement — who has already been appointed — is confirmed by the Senate. Last month, Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit that aims to remove Prehn from the position. 

On Wednesday, Prehn’s lawyers filed a motion seeking to have Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell removed from the case. Trammell was appointed to the court by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. 

In Wisconsin, judges can be substituted in civil cases if the request is made before the hearing of any “preliminary contested matters.” No hearings have occurred in the case, so Prehn’s lawyers say Trammell should be replaced. 

Prehn’s motion was approved on Thursday and a new judge will be assigned, but the case will stay in Dane County. Aside from Trammell, there are six other Dane County Circuit Court judges currently hearing civil cases. Two of them were appointed by Democratic governors. 

If the case, once decided, is appealed, it will remain in the District IV Court of Appeals, which covers Dane County. 

A number of outside groups have filed motions to intervene in the case on Prehn’s behalf. Republican leaders in the Legislature have been allowed to intervene — even though they control the confirmation process and have been coordinating with Prehn to keep him in the seat since May. An advocacy organization for hunters, Hunter Nation, has also filed to intervene even though one of its lobbyists has been instrumental in Prehn’s fight to remain on the board. 

A motion hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 28 at 2 p.m.


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.