Kevin Mathewson is a criminal defense investigator. He works for defense attorneys and takes some other non-criminal cases. Mathewson is also the Editor and an Investigative Journalist for the Kenosha County Eye, this website. As such, Mathewson is in court almost every day, with both his day job as a P.I. and his side gig, as an independent journalist. Part of his duties are to photograph court hearings in front of Judges and court commissioners for this site. This, he has done many times in front of several judges. Here is the thing, Mathewson and anyone else that want to take photos in a court room need the permission of the presiding Judge or Commissioner. Taking photos in court without such permission is a violation of Kenosha County Rule 1-6 and Supreme Court Rule 61.01. Ignoring this rule could land one a steep fine or even be tossed in jail for contempt of court. These rules are important. Minors and jurors can’t be photographed. Closed hearings also cannot be photographed.
On June 7, 2021 Mathewson was photographing a proceeding in intake court in front of Court Commissioner Loren Keating. Rittenhouse prosecutor Jim Kraus was in court as well for the initial appearances of several defendants. KCE was covering the arrest of three extremist activists. Mathewson noticed that Kraus, using his cell phone, snapped a photo of Mathewson. Mathewson immediately snapped a photo of Kraus who seemed to have been “caught red-handed.”
Mathewson knew that Kraus violated the two court rules and immediately initiated a public records request for a copy of the photo. Mathewson would use this photo to make a complaint against Kraus with the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation. Mike Graveley, Kenosha County’s DA admitted that the photo was taken, but refused to release the photo stating it wasn’t a public record. On June 13, 2021, Mathewson’s 37th birthday, he sued the DA to obtain the photograph. Mathewson represented himself pro-se, that is, without an attorney. When a DA is sued, it is standard practice for the State’s Attorney General to defend the action. However, on July 20, 2021, Graveley asked Governor Tony Evers to allow him to defend himself. The Governor granted Graveley’s request. Mathewson opposed Graveley representing his office, as Graveley was a necessary witness. Mathewson went head-to-head against Graveley in several court appearances. Since all of the Kenosha Judges recused themselves, this case went to Walworth County Judge David Reddy. Reddy ruled that Graveley could represent himself, “at his own peril.” Graveley made some discovery requests to Mathewson for private documents about Mathewson’s personal business and asked for thousands of emails. Mathewson objected to theses overly invasive and irrelevant requests and successfully argued in court, with Reddy ruling in Mathewson’s favor. At one point the Judge seemed to signal the he was poised to rule in Mathewson’s favor. Mathewson made a settlement offer to Graveley to pay the $184.50 filing fee, give up the photo and Mathewson would drop the suit. Graveley rejected the offer. At one point, The Wisconsin Transparency Project Attorney, Tom Kamenick took over the case for Mathewson and Governor Ever’s Chief Legal Counsel rescinded Graveley’s representation and took over the case. He quickly agreed to settle the case. Under the settlement, Mathewson received the photos taken by Kraus, will be paid $1,100 – $402 for court fees, $598 for attorneys fees, and $100 statutory damages.
Here is the photo that cost the taxpayers a pretty penny because Graveley didn’t want to release it. It is proof that Kraus committed misconduct. The State Office of Lawyer Regulation took no formal action against Kraus, but did “give him advice about how to avoid (breaking the rules) again.”