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Dems may lose WI John Doe law in War on Scott Walker

Dems may lose WI John Doe law in War on Scott Walker

Pending legislation will depoliticize powerful secret investigations used by Democratic prosecutors

The “John Doe” law in Wisconsin is unique in that is sets up an investigative tool which, while nominally under the supervision of a Judge, gives prosecutors wide ranging power to conduct secret investigations. Targets and those from whom records and evidence is gathered are required to stay silent about what is being done to them.

The Wisconsin John Doe law has been around for a century, but recently has come under intense criticism because it has been used by Democratic prosecutors as a political weapon against Scott Walker and conservative activists. Scroll through our John Doe (WI) tag for more background.

The short version is that there have been two John Doe investigations of Scott Walker, neither of which has found any wrongdoing by Walker. John Doe No. 1 concerned Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, and is closed.

John Doe No. 2 concerned alleged illegal coordination between conservative activists and groups and the Walker campaign during the 2012 Recall Election. John Doe No. 2 has been the subject of multiple litigations in which conservative groups allege that prosecutors used meritless legal theories to intimidate and harass the conservative movement into political silence through raids on homes and seizure of emails, texts and other electronic evidence. A whistleblower stepped forward to claim that the investigation was promoted if not instigated by the union-operative wife of the lead prosecutor, something he denies.

John Doe No. 2 is currently stalled, as both state and federal judges have found the legal theories behind the investigation are invalid as matters of law.

Nonetheless, the Democratic prosecutors are attempting to push forward and reignite John Doe No. 2, and to continue to target Walker and those politically aligned with him. John Doe No. 2 reeks of the political use of a powerful non-political investigative process. With Walker rising in the Republican presidential hopeful ranks, there is every reason to believe Democrats will seek to exploit John Doe No. 2, or perhaps start a John Doe No. 3, in the hopes of damaging Walker’s presidential chances.

Accordingly, Republicans who control the Wisconsin legislature are moving to take the politics out of the John Doe law. Wisconsin Reporter reports:

The predawn, paramilitary-style raids with children present. The assaults on free speech. The gag orders. The partisan witch hunts.

State Rep. David Craig, R-Big Bend, knows all about the latest John Doe investigation into Republican Gov. Scott Walker and dozens of conservative groups, and he says he’s no longer going to stand by as district attorneys and political speech regulators “trample on the constitutional rights” of some citizens.

Craig confirmed he and Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, are expected to introduce legislation Thursday afternoon that will significantly change Wisconsin’s unique John Doe law to ensure more transparency and accountability….

“Because of that enhanced power that our prosecution has in Wisconsin … it opens the door for potential abuse and we want to make sure that abuse doesn’t happen again in the future,” Craig said early Thursday when contacted by Wisconsin Reporter.

Craig’s and Tiffany’s bill would still allow a judge to enter a secrecy order, but it would only apply to district attorneys or other prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement personnel, interpreters and court reporters.

The Journal Sentinel reports on the hearings:

Republican lawmakers championed a bill Wednesday to end prosecutors’ ability to conduct John Doe investigations for many crimes, with one legislator taking a swipe at Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm for how he ran a now-stalled probe into the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and conservative groups backing him.

Alluding to Chisholm without mentioning him by name, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) told the Senate Judiciary Committee the Democratic prosecutor had engaged in “abuse” and been “obsessed with getting involved in the political process.”

Democrats are not happy.

If the legislature does pass a reform of the John Doe law, it will help permanently limit the use of the John Doe process as a political weapon.


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Yee haw !!! 🙂

That MIGHT be one…ONE…of the best parts of the Walker Legacy.

But there are so many from which to choose.


    sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | March 12, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    In oral arguments for Patel vs the City of Los Angeles, the Court made it plain that it does not like facial constitutional challenges to laws. Yet the Wisconsin John Doe Law’s wording is troubling on its face:

      (1) If a district attorney requests a judge to convene a proceeding to determine whether a crime has been committed in the court’s jurisdiction, the judge shall convene a proceeding described under sub. (3) and shall subpoena and examine any witnesses the district attorney identifies.

    Notice the word shall. This law may not withstand 14th Amendment scrutiny. Not even the lowest evidentiary standard reasonable suspicion is mentioned.

      platypus in reply to sequester. | March 12, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Nice. I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking that there are serious facial issues with this stupid law. BTW, I don’t remember when Patel was issued. How good is its law today?

      I always worry if an opinion is more than a few years old that some “tinkering” with the holding might have happened in the interim.

        sequester in reply to platypus. | March 13, 2015 at 11:12 am

        Oral arguments in Patel vs City of Los Angeles were heard by the Supreme Court on March 3rd. No opinion has been issued yet.

        Since Patel is a pure facial challenge the final opinion may determine the future of facial constitutional challenges to laws. The argument goes that harm cannot be shown in a pure facial challenge.

This “John Doe” law is reminiscent of what the left did to Sarah Palin, causing her to resign as Governor of AK rather than face bankruptcy.

    platypus in reply to snopercod. | March 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I mildly disagree that Sarah was caused to resign by those filthy lawfare stalkers. My read of that situation was that she chose to do that as a “monkey wrench” maneuver.

Stalinists. This is the Left, which now controls the democrat party. Democrats for decades had been able to beat back the Leftist virus in their ranks. Their weak immune system feel apart under Clinton and When I was a kid, most democrats were Bill of Rights champions and fairly decent people as a whole. They’re now a combination of infantile Lord of the Flies savages, de facto communists and vicious corruptocrats. They have one thing in common — the fanatical urge to destroy conservatives or anybody else who might force them to reason with their delusions and be held accountable for their depredations.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to pesanteur. | March 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Stalinist … good word for it.

    They hide behind race, gender, sexuality, foreign nationality, environment, academia, unions … enclaves for their radical thought. But at their root they are destructive communists, using our own government against us. “Diversity” indeed.

    Domestically much of it goes back to infiltration in the fifties, influence from Obama’s mentor Marshall, or Jarrett’s father. It is the Chicago way, the union way, the White House way for now. The cold war second front is now domestic.

Peanteur: And much like the head choppers overseas, lefties believe, while surveying the carnage to society and the rule of law, that virtue is on their side. But, hey, the commies thought likewise as they imprisoned or murdered millions of their own who realized the utopia they were chasing was just a mirage.

>“Democrats are not happy.”

Perhaps, but it’s not stopping them from LYING in their tweet, falsely claiming that Walker corruption was uncovered, thus the sole purpose of this move is Republican criminality being covered up. Right.

That the party of Her Majesty’s Secret Server (you know, the REAL crimes being committed) has no compunctions about pushing lies with every breath (and tweet) requires a more forceful condemnation than noting they’re “not happy.”

I can haz skullz?

    DB523 in reply to Amy in FL. | March 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Dear Amy… I have enjoyed so many of your posts. The cloud pics are really great, in Boston I really appreciated your CNN 2015 Blizzard impact… yes…Starbucks!!!OMG… glad I drink tea.

    And yes dear… U can haz skullz.

“They’re now a combination of infantile Lord of the Flies savages, de facto communists and vicious corruptocrats. They have one thing in common — the fanatical urge to destroy conservatives or anybody else who might force them to reason with their delusions and be held accountable for their depredations.”

You have described my beloved family liberals to a Tee. One is extremely wealthy, the other is a 1960s retread that hates himself.

Don’t remember if this was posted here or somewhere else. All you need to know about dems summed up by themselves in the last line of a NYT article on the mideast.

Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”

Published: March 10, 2011

RicanPrincess | March 13, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Excellent. About time. So what if the Dems are not happy? They always seem angry anyway.