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John Doe (WI) Tag

The "John Doe" investigations of Wisconsin conservatives, targeting particularly Governor Scott Walker, was a shameful chapter of political abuse of the prosecutorial process. My most recent post was The rotting corpse of Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation still stinks, which details the history of investigations based on unconstitutional attempts to silence conservatives. The cases eventually were thrown out and shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But not until lives had been ruined, and people terrorized.

You may recall the two John Doe investigations of Scott Walker, his supporters and almost the entire Wisconsin conservative movement. It was a nasty, vicious investigation which saw military-style raids in the middle of the night. There was John Doe No. 1, investigating Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. They never came up with any wrongdoing by him.

Who's the horror movie figure that keeps on popping up just when you think you've killed him? That's pretty much the nature of the anti-conservative witch hunt carried out under Wisconsin's so-called John Doe law. Every time the investigation seemed to be beat, the investigating prosecutors would rear their ugly heads. There was John Doe No. 1, investigating Scott Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive. They never came up with any wrongdoing by him. Then there was John Doe No. 2, regarding Walker's alleged unlawful collusion with conservative groups during the recall election. It is John Doe No. 2 that has generated litigation over the past three years. In the end, every court that ruled on the issue found that the entire prosecution legal theory was legally unfounded -- that even if these conservative groups did what they were alleged to have done, it was constitutionally protected speech and not illegal. Lives were ruined over an attempt to punish constitutionally protected speech by conservatives. We have several dozen posts about the history of John Doe No. 2 . Scroll through our John Doe (WI) tag. The investigation was revealed in The Wall Street Journal on November 18, 2013, Wisconsin Political Speech Raid - Subpoenas hit allies of Scott Walker as his re-election campaign looms:

The saga of the two John Doe investigations of Scott Walker, his supporters and almost the entire Wisconsin conservative movement has been covered here dozens of times. It was a nasty, vicious investigation which saw military-style raids in the middle of the night. (note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July). Here are some key posts in our extensive coverage of the John Doe investigation:

We extensively covered the two Wisconsin "John Doe" cases in which prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives in Wisconsin. John Doe No. 1 concerned Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive. John Doe No.2 was the more notorious, as a Democratic lead prosecutor unleashed the equivalent of SWAT teams on conservatives, raiding homes, seizing electronic records, and generally terrorizing innocent people. It was a nasty, vicious investigation (note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July 2015). https://youtu.be/FPoSV9v7J1s John Doe No. 2 was definitively shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which found that it was based on a faulty and unconstitutional legal theory, and employed outrageous tactics that never should be repeated (emphasis added):

There he goes again, going about his business of slaying another progressive dragon. The saga of the two John Doe investigations of Walker, his supporters and almost the entire Wisconsin conservative movement has been covered here dozens of times. It was a nasty, vicious investigation (note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July). An important chapter was turned when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered John Doe No. 2 investigation closed, as a violation of the constitutional protections of free speech and association, Wisconsin Supreme Court stops John Doe investigation against conservatives. 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):

On Thursday night, September 3, 2015, I was a guest on the Todd Herman Show on KTTH 770 AM in Seattle. Todd is a frequent reader of Legal Insurrection, and I appreciated his many compliments. We talked Scott Walker, the John Doe investigations, and Walker's struggling presidential campaign.
"In this case, their entire theory of probable cause was legally invalid, and it was so held by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.... They were trying to find a crime.... [T]he chief of the KGB under Stalin had a very famous quote: Find me the man, and I will find you the crime. And that's what this was. They wanted to get Scott Walker, and they spent four years looking for a crime, and that's not what's supposed to happen in this country.... This was meant to get Scott Walker. They couldn't have cared less what some conservative activist was doing unless they could pin it on Walker."
* * *
"I'm a fan of his, because he just quietly went about his business and completely eviscerated the public sector union movement.

The Wisconsin "John Doe" investigations of conservatives has ended in fiasco ... for prosecutors. John Doe No. 1, clearly aimed at Scott Walker, focused on Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive. Despite enourmous efforts led by Democratic prosecutor John Chisholm, no evidence of wrongdoing by Walker was found. John Doe No. 2, focused on alleged illegal coordination between conservative activists and the Walker campaign during the 2011 Recall Election, was far more notorious. Prosecutors, again led by Chislhom, used SWAT-like raids on homes, seized electronics and electronic records, and pretty much terrorized almost the entire conservative activist community in Wisconsin. Prosecutors denied that Walker was the target, something belied by the intimidation of all those who surrounded him. John Doe No. 2 ended with a stinging rebuke to prosecutors by the Wisconsin Supreme Court:

We previously have featured the story of Michael Lutz, the Wisconsin whistleblower and former prosecutor who alleged that the union-operative wife of "John Doe" prosecutor John Chislhom was behind the targeting of conservative activists that recently was thrown out by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Was Prosecutor’s union-operative wife behind “John Doe” investigation of Scott Walker? (quote via Stuart Taylor):
Now 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.”
Lutz stuck to his story even after furious pushback, as reflected in this interview with Charlie Sykes:

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.

We previously covered Cynthia Archer, Wisconsin Dems used battering rams against Scott Walker supporters – literally Archer was a woman whose home was raised by paramilitary-style commandos working at the behest of Milwaukee County Prosecutor John Chishom as part of "John Doe No. 2." Archer's only alleged crime was being a former aide to Scott Walker, and being conservative. That flimsy pretense was enough enough to make her a target in the second (hence, John Doe No. 2) secret investigation of Walker, based on the allegation that there was illegal campaign coordination among conservative groups and the Walker campaign during the Recall election. We have covered the legal proceedings extensively. The federal and state courts have rejected the prosecution's theory in the face of lawsuits alleging, among other things, that the laws on campaign coordination and the investigations violated freedom of speech. The key case as to the investigation now is on appeal in the state court system, and the John Doe No. 2 investigation is on hold. Our John Doe (WI) Tag traces the history of the cases. But lost in this legal wrangling is the damage done to real people, such as Archer. She explained what happened to her to David French in National Review:

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an Order this morning denying the Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Wisconsin John Doe case. For background, see our prior posts, including Will Supreme Court take blockbuster “John Doe” campaign case?:
The case is O’Keefe v. Chisholm.... The issue on which review was sought had little to do — on the surface — with the substance of the abuses in the John Doe case, but rather, focuses on a technical legal point as to whether and when federal courts can or should stop state investigations.... But, the nature of the case necessarily involves the underlying ability of states to regulate campaign coordination and how that ability interacts with First Amendment rights.
While the Court will not hear the case, the underlying investigation currently is on hold anyway because of a separate federal court order not involved in the Supreme Court petition, and a state court order putting the investigation on hold. Here is the Supreme Court Order: http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/051815zor_a86c.pdf

The U.S. Supreme court has not yet decided whether to grant a petition for writ of certiorari to review a decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled the federal courts should not have issued an injunction halting the "John Doe" investigation targeting conservative groups in Wisconsin. The case was on the Supreme Court conference list for Friday, April 24, 2015, and a decision was expected to be part of Orders issued today, but there was no order. Andrew Grossman, one of the counsel for the petitioners, tweeted this morning: The case is O’Keefe v. Chisholm. You can find all the pleadings here. Since the vast majority of cases are not accepted by the Supreme Court, it's hard to know what, if anything, the delay means. The issue on which review was sought had little to do -- on the surface -- with the substance of the abuses in the John Doe case, but rather, focuses on a technical legal point as to whether and when federal courts can or should stop state investigations. Here's how ScotusBlog summarized the issues:
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