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Suit against Wisconsin “John Doe” star chamber investigators can move forward

Suit against Wisconsin “John Doe” star chamber investigators can move forward

Allegations that investigation targeting conservatives meant to freeze supporters of Scott Walker

We previously covered the Wisconsin “John Doe” investigation of conservative activists, and the lawsuit brought by Eric O’Keefe:

O’Keefe did file suit, and the defendants — state and county investigators — moved to dismiss.

Right Wisconsin reports that the motions to dismiss were denied, so the lawsuit moves foward:

Eric O’Keefe’s civil rights lawsuit against prosecutors in a Democrat-driven John Doe probe into conservative targets will go on after a federal judge on Tuesday thoroughly denied a motion to dismiss the litigation.

Judge Rudolph Randa of the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, pushed aside the argument by the prosecutors-turned-defendants that federal courts generally must abstain from taking up federal constitutional claims that involve or call into question ongoing state proceedings.

The John Doe investigation, a multi-county secret probe into dozens of conservative groups, including conservative political activist O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, “does not fit into any of the categories” for abstention, the judge wrote in his decision.

“It is an investigatory process, not an ongoing criminal prosecution case,” Randa said.

O’Keefe and the Club are suing Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, his assistant DAs, Bruce Landgraf and David Robles, the probe’s special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, shadowy investigator, Dean Nickel, and retired appeals court Judge Gregory A. Peterson, the presiding Judge in the John Doe.

The complainants charge that the investigation is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt bent on punishing Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his allies for his political successes, such as public-sector collective bargaining reform, despised by the left. More so, the investigation featuring what have been described as “paramilitary-style predawn raids” on the homes and properties of conservatives, has deprived the targets of their fundamental constitutional rights, particularly abridging the First, Fourth and Fourteen amendments.

Essentially the judge ruled that the star chamber “John Doe” investigation is just a fishing expedition, not an actual prosecution, and therefore does not have the protections from suit that an actual prosecution might have.

In this part of the decision, the Judge explains just how this star chamber acts:

Wisconsin‟s John Doe procedure is an investigatory device, similar to a grand jury proceeding, but lacking the oversight of a jury. It is “not so much a procedure for the determination of probable cause as it is an inquest for the discovery of crime in which the judge has significant powers.” State v. Washington, 266 N.W.2d 597, 604 (Wis. 1978). “By invoking the formal John Doe investigative proceeding, law enforcement officers are able to obtain the benefit of powers not otherwise available to them, i.e., the power to subpoena witnesses, to take testimony under oath, and to compel the testimony of a reluctant witness.” Id.

It’s not like a Grand Jury, where prosecutors present evidence of a crime, or even an investigative grand jury, where there has to be some reasonable basis for believing a specific crime was committed by a specific person.

Rather, John Doe is a secret proceeding in search of a crime and criminals.


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(Spoken in the manner of The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns.)

>>”The John Doe investigation, a multi-county secret probe into dozens of conservative groups…”

“Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to raven. | April 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Very Cardassian. Everybody is guilty of something; a good interrogation will discover of what.

Freddie Sykes | April 9, 2014 at 4:34 pm

With all the laws and regulations, we have all commit felonies. But it is the nail that dares to stick out that catches the eye of the guy with the hammer.

BannedbytheGuardian | April 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm

OT about 2 years ago I posted that Gov Walker was intent on transforming Tertiary edukashun in Wisconsin , opening it up & voiding the bullies at UW Mad & Marquette.

Now cranberry farmers can get their degrees with a mix of commercial achievements & proven skills recognised plus online courses. Plus go to work.

I have taketo eating dried cranberries in place of lollies . Very tasty & you only need 1/2 a handful.

Great news. Maybe someday I’ll move back to my original home state.