After weeks of withholding evidence from University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook’s defense team, his attorneys filed a motion to compel the court to have the prosecution release at least 2,800 pages worth of police reports and other documents, according to court records.
The emergency motion, filed Friday afternoon, asks Judge Stephen Ehlke to order the state to produce two full sets of documentary discovery — the evidence — by 4 p.m. Thursday.
Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, Cook’s attorneys, also noted in their motion that they will not disclose the personal contact information of any witnesses to anyone other than their office staff and any defense investigators.
Through email communication, Assistant Attorney General Michelle Viste advised the defense team that the state has been trying to organize all of the information into one discovery binder, court records said.
Since Cook’s arraignment last month, the defense counsel has made approximately 10 separate inquiries about picking up the discovery.
Monday, Cook’s attorneys filed a formal discovery demand, to which Viste responded, “It is not ready. We are working on a protective order that got delayed because I have been tied up with trial prep and a jury trial the past two weeks. It is our priority this week.”
In the emergency motion, the attorneys noted this was the first time they heard of a motion for a protective order. The defense also did not receive a draft of the proposed order after requesting to see it.
That following evening at 5:25 p.m., Viste agreed to release the information “sooner rather than later,” so long as Nicholson and Van Wagner agreed not to copy or release any information. The defense agreed.
Thursday, however, Viste informed the defense a new attorney— for a total of six — is working on the case and disagreements had arisen regarding discovery, which meant the previous agreement was “dead.”
“Defense counsel has seen no draft protective order. Defense counsel has received exactly zero pages of discovery. And defense counsel know that this court is not in session next week,” the defense said in the emergency motion. “We have exhausted all other means of getting discovery.”
Ehlke has yet to sign the formal order. Cook’s pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 31.