DOJ must stop prosecuting unconstitutional tickets
“Considering yesterday’s ruling, the DOJ must immediately dismiss all of the approximately 400 remaining frivolous citations.
MADISON – Despite the settling of a lawsuit in which the parties agreed that a notice system would be implemented requiring individuals who use the Capitol Rotunda to merely give notice of their intent to do so, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has proceeded with prosecuting noon-time singers under a now defunct administrative rule requiring that small groups of individuals expressing their constitutional rights of free speech obtain a permit.
Yesterday, Dane County Judge John Markson dismissed 29 forfeiture tickets issued under this outdated policy as unconstitutionally infringing upon individuals’ right to free speech. Judge Markson also rebuked the DOJ’s policy of changing the basis under which people were cited many months after the original citation, stating that the “conduct was wrong and would warrant some sanction.” Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) issued the following statement in response to this ruling:
“Despite agreeing to change their unconstitutional policy that restricted people’s right to assemble in their own State Capitol, DOJ continues to prosecute those who were unlawfully cited for gathering without a permit. Yesterday’s ruling, which dismissed 29 tickets, is just the latest in a series of events that proves Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General JB Van Hollen are on the wrong side of history and the constitution.
“Considering yesterday’s ruling, the DOJ must immediately dismiss all of the approximately 400 remaining frivolous citations. The individuals cited were simply exercising their constitutional free speech rights, which has now been again vindicated by our courts.
“As Judge Markson acknowledged in his ruling, these Solidarity Singer citations make up more than one-third of all contested forfeiture cases opened in Dane County Circuit Court last year. It is high time the DOJ cease wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars to prosecute individuals who received unconstitutional tickets, as continuing these actions is tantamount to harassment. The DOJ has much more important, not to mention actual crimes, on which to focus its resources.”