MUSCATINE — Thursday afternoon brought some good news for Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson. The Iowa Supreme Court denied the city’s appeal, and her case will now return to district court.
Broderson, who was ousted by the Muscatine City Council in May and then almost immediately reinstated by a judge, has been fighting her removal from office in Muscatine County District Court. So far, the crux of the case has been the release of closed session meetings, allegedly held by the city council to plan for litigation against the mayor.
Lawyers for the mayor requested transcripts of seven closed session meetings, some of which Broderson attended, as well as some that excluded the mayor. The city provided the judge with five of the tapes, which he reviewed and determined should be used as evidence, because they show if the council held animus toward the mayor.
After City Administrator Gregg Mandsager asked the judge to keep the tapes confidential because they could damage his reputation as a city employee, Judge Mark Cleve issued a protective order, prohibiting the transcripts from being released to the public.
Despite the judge issuing the protective order, Muscatine filed an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court, asking the court to reverse the district court ruling and keep the closed session tapes out of the removal case.
Thursday, Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins denied the city of Muscatine’s appeal and immediately lifted a stay on court proceedings. Now, the city is required, once again, to send Broderson the transcripts.
“We are very pleased, and we know that with the elections on the horizon, it was important that we get to a resolution of this as quickly as possible,” Broderson said in an interview.
While attorney for Muscatine, Amy Reasner, argued the closed meetings should be kept confidential under attorney-client privilege, lawyers for the mayor countered by saying the city was attempting to stall court proceedings past the Nov. 7 election, in which Broderson is running for re-election.
The mayor’s lawyers, William Sueppel and Catherine Gerlach, argued the city council was attempting to make the court ruling “moot” by pushing the final decision past Broderson’s first term.
“Additionally, the city’s [appeal] is a method to avoid having any findings of fact by a District Court judge made regarding any…