Matt Rothschild

John Doe Foes Fight High Court Appeal

Lawyers for those investigated take steps to block appeal of Doe case to U.S. Supreme Court.

By , Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Feb 2nd, 2016 02:14 pm
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Governor Walker delivers remarks at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's Business Day in Madison. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Governor Walker delivers remarks at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s Business Day in Madison. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Lawyers for two people embroiled in the now-halted John Doe II investigation are seeking to block any appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is due on March 1.

They are doing so in two ways.

First, they want to deny the district attorneys who are attempting to prosecute the case the opportunity to get outside legal help.

Second, they are casting doubt on whether these district attorneys even have the authority to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s the background: The John Doe II investigation was looking into alleged illegal coordination between Scott Walker and several conservative groups during the recall campaigns of 2011 and 2012.

On July 16, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the John Doe II investigation and ordered the destruction of all the evidence in the case. The special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, urged the justices to reconsider.

On December 2, they affirmed their decision to halt the investigation. They amended the part of their decision dealing with destroying the evidence by saying all the evidence should be sealed and handed over to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

They also dismissed Schmitz from all but a custodial role in the case but suggested that several district attorneys previously involved in the case could take over if they petitioned the court to do so.

The district attorneys of Dane, Milwaukee, and Iowa counties submitted such a petition, and the court permitted them to join the case on January 12. On January 27, the three district attorneys filed a motion with the Wisconsin Supreme Court to allow pro-bono outside appellate counsel to have access to some of the evidence for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Feb. 1, lawyers for two unnamed individuals caught up in the John Doe filed an objection to this motion. Eric Wilson of the law firm Godfrey & Kahn wrote that “the district attorneys lack the authority to retain ‘outside appellate counsel,’ whether or not pro bono, to present their case to the United States Supreme Court.”

Wilson also claimed that the DAs can’t simply replace the special prosecutor: “The suggestion that a district attorney could unilaterally replace, implicitly or explicitly, the special prosecutor here flies in the face of months of continuous litigation.”

And Wilson suggested that the district attorneys do not have the authority to appeal the July 16 decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Under Wisconsin statutes, he wrote, “that appellate function has been reserved with narrow exceptions to the Attorney General and the Department of Justice.”

If the Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees with Wilson’s arguments, the door to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the John Doe II case will be slammed shut.

That would be an ironic twist because in its December 2 ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said: “Our decision to terminate Attorney Schmitz’s authority is not meant to interfere with the ability of the prosecution team to seek Supreme Court review.”

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Categories: Politics

7 thoughts on “John Doe Foes Fight High Court Appeal”

  1. Stan says:

    It appears you’re protesting a bit too much. Interesting.

  2. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    I would agree Stan. Schimel and Walker’s allies seem very scared about what might come out to the public, aren’t they?

    Go ahead WMC judges, try to pull the cover-up while Ms. Bradley Foundation tries to run for a 10-year term. See how well THAT goes over on a public that already doesn’t trust you.

  3. Nick Haviland says:

    The rats are getting shown up with some lighting. They’re terrified !!

  4. Kent Mueller says:

    If I was I Supreme Court Justice Prosser or Gableman, to name two of four, I wouldn’t be sleeping well until SCOTUS rejects this, because my sense is if SCOTUS gets one look at this case and sees the willful disregard of Caperton v, Massey, a lifetime of disgrace awaits. There’s a real cost to all that money they took.

  5. Mike Carey says:

    So their argument quoting the article is that “Wilson also claimed that the DAs can’t simply replace the special prosecutor: “The suggestion that a district attorney could unilaterally replace, implicitly or explicitly, the special prosecutor here flies in the face of months of continuous litigation.”
    But isn’t that exactly what the Supreme Courtinexplicably decided to do? “They also dismissed Schmitz from all but a custodial role in the case but suggested that several district attorneys previously involved in the case could take over if they petitioned the court to do so”

    It appears they want the argument both ways. When it works for them it’s allowed. When it doesn’t, no Way!! This makes me believe the investigation absolutely has to continue. If you are reduced to making these types of aguments to get your case thrown out, you did something wrong and you know the prosecutor can prove it.

  6. gerald braden says:

    Projection, projection, projection. The truth is reversed here. I say let the case go to the US Supreme Court, then let’s see who is or should be afraid of the proper judgement. This John Doe matter is an embarrassment to our city and state. DA Chisholm needs to retire before he is forced out of office. The good citizens of this region have been violated simply because the liberals have forced their suspicions onto anyone and everyone who potentially be useful to unseat Gov. Walker out of office. How is that working out for you. I hope every law suit already in motion against these thugs will finally bridle this bullish tactic that the lawyers can do anything they want, even if they violate the US & Wis. Constitutions and human rights. Shame, Shame, Shame.

  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    Aren’t conservatives attacking Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing Scott Walker did (re: the email server, not the designation of emails as classified)? And how were six people convicted of wrongdoing if it was just liberals out to target Walker allies? Why did two Republican DAs participate?

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