On another widespread misinterpretation of the significance of a legal development, I know that there are some lefty bloggers who think Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy's dismissal of a lawsuit by development partnership Prism alleging impropriety in the award of the Kenilworth Building contract shows that those allegations were "baseless" and that no one acted improperly. Jay Bullock is one.
The allegations may have been baseless, but it is simply not possible to draw that conclusion from Judge Malloy's decision. As Sean Hackbarth suspected in an e-mail query to me on Thursday, the decision had nothing to do with the merits of those allegations.
Malloy was ruling on a motion to dismiss. Essentially, a motion to dismiss says, even if all the allegations in the complaint are true, the plaintiff can't win and, therefore, the case should be dismissed. By definition, it does not pass upon the truth or falsity of what is alleged.
In this case, Malloy found that the matter was "moot." In our legal system, judges generally don't pass upon the legality of things that can no longer be fixed. The case brought by Prism was review of an agency decision under Chapter 227 in which damages are unavailable. All you can do is reverse the agency or tell it to act again.
In this case, however, that wasn't possible because the Kenilworth contract had already been let. In other words, the pork was out of the pen and could not be put back in. Under those circumstances, Judge Malloy concluded, the case is moot. There was, he believed, nothing he could do to fix what had happened (if, indeed, it merited fixing), so there was no reason to proceed.
Although Judge Malloy apparently made some statements from the bench on the irregularity of the process, you can't read much into that either. There was not a full exposition of the merits of the underlying allegations.
In short, the decision means Prism is out of luck. It doesn't tell us a fig about whether there was something wrong with the way in which the Kenilworth contract was awarded.
BONUS OBSERVATION: Nor does it mean anything that the State Department of Justice is arguing that the State Election Board was correct in forbidding Mark Green's transfer of federal funds to his state account. It is the AG's job to represent state agencies. Had the SEB gone the other way, so would the DOJ.