Tag: John Doe

Wisconsin Supreme Court FINALLY Stops Nazistic John Doe Investigation Against Conservatives

Wisconsin Supreme Court Stops John Doe Investigation Against Conservatives – Legal Insurrection

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court has effectively killed the “John Doe” case which led to home raids and intimidation of a wide range of Wisconsin conservative activists.

The decision is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Here is the key finding, which completely shreds both the legal theories and motives of the prosecutors, completely vindicates the targets, and praises those who fought back legally against prosecutorial misconduct (emphasis added):

¶133 Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points. It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a “perfect storm” of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.

Andrew Grossman, who filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case and who has served as counsel to Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth (two of the targets of the investigation) in various federal civil rights litigation against the prosecutors, provided me with the following statement:

Today’s decision puts an end to one of the worst abuses of power ever seen in Wisconsin law enforcement. The next step will be holding those responsible accountable for their actions. The Court’s recognition that the John Doe was a politically motivated “dragnet” of Gov. Walker’s allies provides strong support for Cindy Archer’s civil rights action against the Milwaukee prosecutors and lawsuits by potentially any of the other John Doe targets.

Background on John Doe abuses:

We have been covering the John Doe cases for a year and a half. You can read all out posts in the John Doe (WI) Tag.

Here are some key posts:

* Revealed: Wisconsin John Doe investigation was full-blown anti-conservative fishing expedition
* Exposed: How Prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives
* Was Prosecutor’s union-operative wife behind “John Doe” investigation of Scott Walker?
* Wisconsin “John Doe” War on Walker wins “Nastiest Political Tactic of the Year”
* Wisconsin Dems used battering rams against Scott Walker supporters – literally
* Former Scott Walker Aide Sues prosecutors for WI John Doe “Home Invasion”

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Analysis:

The court found that Wisconsin statutes did not limit “issue advocacy,” and that any attempt to so limit speech was unconstitutional:

¶7 We can resolve the original action, Two Unnamed Petitioners, by first examining whether the statutory definitions of “committee,” “contributions,” “disbursements,” and “political purposes” in Wis. Stat. §§ 11.01(4), (6), (7), and (16) are limited to express advocacy[4] or whether they encompass the conduct of coordination between a candidate or a campaign committee and an independent organization that engages in issue advocacy. Second, if the definitions extend to issue advocacy coordination, what then constitutes prohibited “coordination?”

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¶41 We turn first to Two Unnamed Petitioners, the original action filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This case requires us to interpret Wisconsin’s campaign finance law, Wis. Stat. Ch. 11. By its very nature, this task involves fundamental questions regarding the scope of the government’s ability to regulate political speech. To resolve this case, we must engage in statutory interpretation of the phrase “political purposes,” which includes all activities “done for the purpose of influencing [an] election.” Wis. Stat. § 11.01(16). We conclude, consistent with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution, that the plain language of “political purposes” in Wis. Stat. § 11.01(16) is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague if it is not given a limiting construction and applied to only express advocacy and its functional equivalent. This conclusion invalidates the special prosecutor’s theory of the case and ends the John Doe investigation. Therefore, we agree with the Unnamed Movants and grant their requested relief.

The Court ripped into the investigating prosecutors (emphasis added):

¶68 Having reached our conclusion about the scope of conduct regulated by Chapter 11, we now turn to the special prosecutor’s theories of coordination and whether the alleged conduct is regulated under Wisconsin law.[23] The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection. The special prosecutor’s theories, rather than “assur[ing] [the] unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people,” Roth, 354 U.S. at 484, instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished. In short, the special prosecutor completely ignores the command that, when seeking to regulate issue advocacy groups, such regulation must be done with “narrow specificity.” Barland II, 751 F.3d at 811 (quotations omitted).

¶69 The limiting construction that we apply makes clear that the special prosecutor’s theories are unsupportable in law given that the theories rely on overbroad and vague statutes. By limiting the definition of “political purposes” to express advocacy and its functional equivalent, political speech continues to be protected as a fundamental First Amendment right.

The court made clear the investigation was stopped cold in its tracks:

¶76 To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law. Consequently, the investigation is closed. Consistent with our decision and the order entered by Reserve Judge Peterson, we order that the special prosecutor and the district attorneys involved in this investigation must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation. All Unnamed Movants are relieved of any duty to cooperate further with the investigation.

The Court went on in addition to uphold a lower court’s quashing of a subpoenas and search warrants sought by the prosecutors, finding that the John Doe powers did not allow “a fishing expedition”:

¶91 Reasonableness and particularity are not just requirements of search warrants, however. Subpoenas issued by courts, and by extension John Doe judges, must also satisfy these requirements of the Fourth Amendment. In re John Doe Proceeding, 272 Wis. 2d 208, ¶38. A John Doe proceeding, with its broad investigatory powers, must never be allowed to become a fishing expedition.

¶92 It is difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the importance of the role of the John Doe judge. If he does not conduct the investigation fairly, as a neutral and detached magistrate, the risk of harm to innocent targets of the investigation-and we remain mindful that all such targets are presumed innocent-is too great. Through the use of a John Doe 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.” Washington, 83 Wis. 2d at 822-23. Such powers, if not wielded with care and skill may serve to transform a John Doe proceeding into an implement of harassment and persecution by a vengeful or unethical prosecutor. Thus, John Doe judges must be mindful of this danger and zealously guard the rights of all citizens against over-reach.

The Court then summarized its holdings, just so there was no doubt that it had completely rejected the prosecutors’ legal theory on coordination of issue advocacy (emphasis added):

¶133 Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points. It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a “perfect storm” of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.

¶134 In Two Unnamed Petitioners, we hold that the definition of “political purposes” in Wis. Stat. § 11.01(16) is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution because its language “‘is so sweeping that its sanctions may be applied to constitutionally protected conduct which the state is not permitted to regulate.’” Janssen, 219 Wis. 2d at 374 (quoting Bachowski, 139 Wis. 2d at 411). However, a readily available limiting construction exists that we will apply and that will prevent the chilling of otherwise protected speech; namely, that “political purposes” is limited to express advocacy and its functional equivalent as those terms are defined in Buckley and WRTL II. With this limiting construction in place, Chapter 11 does not proscribe any of the alleged conduct of any of the Unnamed Movants. The special prosecutor has not alleged any express advocacy, and issue advocacy, whether coordinated or not, is “beyond the reach of [Ch. 11].” Barland II, 751 F.3d at 815. Accordingly, we invalidate the special prosecutor’s theory of the case, and we grant the relief requested by the Unnamed Movants.

¶135 To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law. Consequently, the investigation is closed. Consistent with our decision and the order entered by Reserve Judge Peterson, we order that the special prosecutor and the district attorneys involved in this investigation must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation. All Unnamed Movants are relieved of any duty to cooperate further with the investigation.

Wisconsin Supreme Court – John Doe Decision

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The Leftist Douchebaggery Continues Unabated In Wisconsin (Videos)

Former Prosecutor Says Wisconsin Investigation Fueled By “Hyper-Partisan” DA And Union Activist Wife – Hot Air

Last we checked on Gov. Scott Walker, he was (a) knotted in the polls with his Democratic challenger, and (b) fending off mind-bendingly dishonest media coverage of the scurrilous investigation into Wisconsin conservative groups – which has been summarily thrown out of court by two different judges. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals took up the ‘Joe Doe’ circus yesterday, as twice-thwarted prosecutors sought to have their secret probe reinstated; lawyers for the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the targeted organizations, argued that a scathing lower court ruling shutting down the investigation and exposing the prosecutors to misconduct lawsuits ought to be be upheld. A press account of Tuesday’s oral arguments said the judges, “repeatedly quizzed lawyers… why the federal courts should weigh in on a state investigation” at all. Leading up to the proceedings, former FEC official Hans Von Spakovsky penned an op/ed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spelling out what’s at stake in the case:

The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy… The [conservative] group’s supposed “crime” was coordinating its efforts on public policy issues with elected officials such as Gov. Scott Walker and with other conservative advocacy organizations. This resulted in SWAT-like raids in the middle of the night by armed law enforcement officials to seize “evidence,” as if these organizations were dangerous drug cartels or mob operations. Last week, I joined three other former members of the Federal Election Commission in filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief for the organizations unfairly targeted.

Based on our extensive experience interpreting federal campaign finance law, we argue that issue advocacy is at the core of our rights to free speech, to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The right of citizens and their membership associations to directly engage elected leaders is all the more important on politically charged questions of public policy. Such collaboration is the norm in the political arena, where there is extensive interaction between citizens groups and elected officials about proposed legislation. In fact, such coordination is vital to a functioning democracy… I hope that the civil rights lawsuit filed against these prosecutors is successful and results in a large judgment that deters this type of investigation from ever happening again.

As we await the panel’s ruling – which is expected before the upcoming elections – a new report from respected journalist and Brookings senior fellow Stuart Taylor, Jr. sheds fresh light on the possible motivations behind the whole imbroglio. According to a source described as a former prosecutor with firsthand knowledge of the investigation’s inner workings, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm’s efforts have been driven by intense partisanship. The source says Chisolm’s wife is a fanatical anti-Walker agitator, and assesses the entire inquiry as a vindictive political crusade:

A longtime Chisholm subordinate reveals for the first time in this article that the district attorney may have had personal motivations for his investigation. Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis high school, a public school near Milwaukee, had been repeatedly moved to tears by Walker’s anti-union policies in 2011, according to the former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office. Chisholm said in the presence of the former prosecutor that his wife “frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved… She took it personally.” Citing fear of retaliation, the former prosecutor declined to be identified and has not previously talked to reporters. Chisholm added, according to that prosecutor, that “he felt that it was his personal duty to stop Walker from treating people like this.” Chisholm was referring to Gov. Walker’s proposal – passed by the legislature in March 2011 – to require public employee unions to contribute to their retirement and health-care plans for the first time and limited unions’ ability to bargain for non-wage benefits.

This former Chisolm associate goes on to allege that the culture within his office was about as far removed from the paradigm of impartial law enforcement as could be imagined:

Chisholm said his wife had joined teachers union demonstrations against Walker, said the former prosecutor. The 2011 political storm over public unions was unlike any previously seen in Wisconsin…Chisholm’s private displays of partisan animus stunned the former prosecutor. “I admired him [Chisholm] greatly up until this whole thing started,” the former prosecutor said. “But once this whole matter came up, it was surprising how almost hyper-partisan he became… It was amazing… to see this complete change.” The culture in the Milwaukee district attorney’s office was stoutly Democratic, the former prosecutor said, and become more so during Gov. Walker’s battle with the unions. Chisholm “had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who were just fanatical about union activities and unionizing. And a lot of them went up and protested. They hung those blue fists on their office walls [to show solidarity with union protestors] …At the same time, if you had some opposing viewpoints that you wished to express, it was absolutely not allowed.”

Read Taylor’s whole story, which traces the history of the ‘John Doe’ campaign finance probe and describes the pair of lower court decisions that lowered the boom on overzealous prosecutors. Not one person has been charged throughout the ordeal (let alone indicted or convicted), and prosecutors admit that Walker hasn’t even been served with a single subpoena. Meanwhile, conservatives in Wisconsin say the groundless, never-ending, punitive, secret investigation has frozen them into a state of paralysis, which they argue is a clear violation of their rights. President Obama’s former White House counsel appears to agree:

Bob Bauer, one of the nation’s leading election law experts, counters that however valid the reformers’ concerns may be, the Wisconsin investigation raises important constitutional and policy issues. “There are serious problems with the effort to prohibit or limit issue ad coordination,” Bauer said. “I’m very wary of using the criminal law to enforce them.” Punishing coordination, Bauer said, would “drive apart natural allies who should be free to collaborate on common political goals.” …Since Bauer served as President Obama’s White House Counsel, he cannot be discounted as a conservative partisan.

This is only the latest skirmish in the Left’s apparent campaign to criminalize political disagreement – ranging from a proposed Constitutional amendment restricting political speech, to an endless ‘Bridgegate’-to-nowhere investigation in New Jersey, to the utterly preposterous indictments against Texas Gov. Rick Perry. If these tactics prove successful, what’s to stop agenda-driven prosecutors in heavily partisan jurisdictions from routinely cooking up criminal inquiries and charges for the sole purpose of hanging a dark cloud over a rival politician during an election season? By the time the target has time to clear his or her name, the political damage has been done. The attack ads already aired. The people already voted (see: Stevens, Ted and DeLay, Tom). Genuine public corruption is a scourge that must be rooted out, but abusing the legal system to harass and silence ideological opponents is disgraceful. I’ll leave you with one of Walker’s latest ads touting Wisconsin’s job growth, followed by an RGA hit on Mary Burke:

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Democrats are now seizing on new projections of a future structural deficit – estimated to emerge between 2015 and 2017 – to pummel Walker. These gripes come from the same people who left Wisconsin drowning in a $3.6 billion sea of red ink, which Walker has mopped up by reducing spending and reforming the budget, all while lowering taxes across the board. A Republican member of the state’s Joint Finance Committee offers a six-point primer on what Democrats won’t mention as they fulminate about potential structural deficits, which they suddenly care about very deeply. His first point: Walker and the Republican legislature have produced a string balanced budgets, leading to a sizable surplus and a robust rainy day fund. These latest projections employ a static analysis that assumes no efforts will be undertaken to adapt, respond, and achieve balance.

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Corruption Update: Wisconsin John Doe Investigation Was Full-Blown Anti-Conservative Fishing Expedition

Revealed: Wisconsin John Doe Investigation Was Full-Blown Anti-Conservative Fishing Expedition – Legal Insurrection

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We’ve covered the abusive anti-conservative Wisconsin “John Doe” proceedings many times before.

The short story is that two separate proceedings were commenced under the auspices of Democratic District Attorneys in order to try to take down Scott Walker.

John Doe No. 1 concerned Walker’s time as County Executive and ended without finding any wrongdoing by Walker himself.

John Doe No. 2 concerned Walker’s time as Governor and recall election. Both a state court judge and a federal judge found that even if everything the investigators claimed was true, it was not illegal. This John Doe No. 2 resulted in a federal lawsuit by two of the targets alleging that the investigators violated the targets’ constitutional rights.

Some documents released Friday by the federal Court of Appeals reveal just how abusive this John Doe No. 2 was.

The investigators conducted a widespread fishing expedition through the otherwise private records of numerous conservative activists, as described by M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin Reporter, who has followed the case more closely than anyone (h/t Instapundit):

‘Retaliation’: Docs show state prosecutors’ launched mini-NSA probe of state conservatives

Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt.

That might not be a big enough descriptor, based on records released Friday by a federal appeals court as part of a massive document dump.

Attorneys for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth point to subpoenas requested by John Doe prosecutors that sought records from “at least eight phone companies” believed to serve the targets of the investigation. O’Keefe and the club have filed a civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors, alleging they violated conservatives’ First Amendment rights.

Subpoenas also demanded the conservatives’ bank records, “emails from every major private email provider” and other information in what some have described as a mini-NSA (National Security Agency) operation in Wisconsin.

“In fact, Defendants’ submissions confirm and expand upon the scope and intensity of retaliation previously demonstrated,” O’Keefe’s attorney wrote in documents ordered unsealed by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The documents raise serious concerns about the tactics of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, two of his assistant DAs and others involved in the investigation targeting dozens of conservatives.

We are in a dangerous place when prosecutors can identify the target first, and then try to find a crime.

Hey Wisconsin conservatives. You’re not paranoid, Democrats really are out to get you.

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Officials instructed Benghazi hospital to list Stevens as “John Doe”

Via CBS News and Sharyl Attkisson

U.S. officials gave instructions for Benghazi Medical Center to use a “John Doe” pseudonym on the death certificate of Ambassador Christopher Stevens after he died of asphyxiation in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. That’s according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity because the official isn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The reason for the pseudonym, says the official, was to avoid drawing undue attention to the importance of the victim as Americans rushed to figure out how to recover Stevens’ body and return it to the U.S.

 The official provided the most complete accounting yet of Stevens’ whereabouts and passing in the eight and a half months since his death.

 According to the official, U.S. officials aren’t certain to this day whether Stevens was still alive when local Libyans made cell phone video recordings of his body being carried or dragged from the U.S. mission, possibly by looters. And they still don’t know exactly who transported him to the Benghazi Medical Center where they say medical personnel attempted resuscitation, unsuccessfully, for about 40 minutes (90 minutes, according to published accounts from a Libyan doctor). When pieced together with previously provided information, this is how the search for Stevens is said to have unfolded, according to the official: