Bruce Murphy

Chisholm Considering Appeal of John Doe Ruling

Four DAs discussing whether to appeal state high court decision to U.S. Supreme Court.

By - Dec 9th, 2015 12:38 pm
John Chisholm

John Chisholm

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who launched two John Doe probes that targeted Scott Walker and other groups and individuals, is considering whether to appeal a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that shut down the second probe.

“Obviously we’re discussing that and talking to everyone we need to about that,” he told Urban Milwaukee.

Those talks include four other DAs who were involved in the investigation, Chisholm noted: Columbia County DA  Jane Kohlwey, Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne, Dodge County DA Kurt F. Klomberg, Iowa County DA Larry E. Nelson.

The group is bipartisan. Kohlwey and Klomberg are Republicans and Chisholm, Ozanne and Nelson are Democrats. The special prosecutor for the second John Doe probe was Francis Schmitz, who has disclosed that he voted for Walker in the recall election and was once a member of the Republican Party.

But last week the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in the latest twist of an increasingly strange saga, essentially fired Schmitz. The four-person conservative majority had already shut down the Doe probe, but last week ruled that Schmitz, who intended to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, was never legally appointed a Doe prosecutor, meaning he may lack standing to appeal the high court decision. The court ruled the appointment was improper because special prosecutors are allowed to be appointed only in certain circumstances, such as when the district attorney has a conflict of interest.

Schmitz said that “if I have the resources, (I) intend to pursue an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court,” but some legal observers say that may be difficult given the state high court decision. “It’s certainly a major impediment,” says Chisholm.

Chisholm says at this point he can’t say if he will appeal. “It’s not a clear path forward.” And there’s not much time to decide, he adds: “We have until December 15.”

The League of Women Voters has blasted the actions taken by the high court, first for stripping Schmitz of his authority in the John Doe II case, “making it impossible for him to appeal the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court,” LWV executive director Andrea Kaminski complained. “As if that was not enough, the same majority ruled late Friday afternoon that the four county District Attorneys who still might have been able to appeal the case to a higher court had only 14 days in which to start that process… If these justices are confident of the legal basis for their July ruling, why are they so determined to keep this case from being appealed?”

But the state Supreme Court’s decision declared it was “not meant to interfere with the ability of the prosecution team to seek Supreme Court review.”

“This case deserves to be appealed,” the League declared, echoing last week’s call by Matthew Rothschild, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for an appeal by Chisholm and the other DAs.

The first John Doe probe resulted in six convictions, including of three aides to then County Executive Walker. John Doe II targeted alleged coordination between the Walker’s gubernatorial campaign and independent advocacy groups like #Wisconsin Club for Growth#.

Conservatives have assailed the second John Doe as a “a partisan witch hunt,” putting all the blame on Chisholm, and the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a law signed by Walker last month which prohibits any John Doe probes targeting political corruption. That, too, could make an appeal difficult, though the probe was undertaken under the old law and launched years before this new law was passed.

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

16 thoughts on “Chisholm Considering Appeal of John Doe Ruling”

  1. Allison says:

    Bruce-your quoting a couple of liberal sources to make your point. Neither Kaminski or Rothschild are ‘nonpartisan’ as you say. he writes for the progressive for crying out loud and they both signed the petition to recall Gov Walker. Why don’t I just quote Sykes and Belling who say the John Doe has no merit and we call it even?

  2. Bruce Murphy says:

    Actually I did quote from Sykes, who I believe originated the “partisan witch hunt” line.

  3. Lisa says:

    I hope Mr. Chisholm, that you find a way. As a life long Wisconsin resident, I can’t believe what’s happened to my beloved state. And all caused by the corrupt control of the Republicans, from that lying crook Walker, to our not so Supreme Court. All have been bought and paid for. Just know that most Wisconsinites support you and Francis Schmitz in all you have done and hope to do in the future. Please do all you can and don’t give up. Walker and the four justices need to go to prison or be thrown out of office, period. And for all you Walker supporters, I saw a great bumper sticker the other day, “If you still stand with Walker, you’ll fall for anything.”

  4. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    The Barrett/Chisholm/Flynn/Kremers gang is responsible for the crime wave in Milwaukee not the regular citizens and concealed carry.
    Chisholm need to get off what 7 judges have told him, this witch hunt. Concentrate his efforts and our money on the crooks. He pleads away all the gun crimes and Flynn does not prosecute straw buyers, paper crimes.
    The white, male, liberal, racists that run Milwaukee into the ground continue down this nutty path.

  5. David Nelson says:

    Only the weaselish work so hard to remove government oversight. Let legitimate investigations go forward without using political power to subvert the process. You’d almost think the people being investigated were guilty from their behavior and those of their cronies. Never mind the fact that partisanship on both sides exists throughout Wisconsin, the lack of transparent governance is damning.

  6. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Chisholm already wussed out on charging Archer and Walker for misconduct in office in Milwaukee Co, despite clear probable cause to do so. To allow these oligarchs and the WMC’s 4 Supreme Court justices to railroad this absurd decision through without appealing would brand Chisholm a COWARD FOR LIFE, and he should resign in shame if he does not take this to SCOTUS.

    In addition, there are serious issues that SCOTUS needs to resolve, now that the WMC 4 have blown a massive hole into the state’system campaign finance and disclosure laws. This needs to be cleared up before the 2016 electiobs, especially since other courts (that have judges that aren’t bought off by RW oligarchs) have ruled the complete opposite of the WMC 4 in similar, recent cases.

    It is Chisholm’s and Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne’so DUTY to take this to SCOTUS, or else it allows everyone else in this outlaw administration to be unaccountable to the law. And when that happens, the next step in keeping politicians accountable is the guillotine, and I don’t think anyone wants that.

  7. Bill Marsh says:

    Regarding Bruce Murphy’s comment about quoting Skyes- There is a clear difference in his reporting that is standard operating procedure for liberal reporters- Murphy indicates the “witch hunt” claim is from conservatives, but doesn’t identify the League of Women Voters and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign as being liberal. In fact, Murphy writes the WDC is non-partisan, (and I believe WLV still claims it is non-partisan), but each is clearly a left-leaning group. All you need to do is look at their membership and their stated positions on political issues. I think it is fine that LWV and WDC have positions on political issues, but is deceitful to claim they are non-partisan, and it is deceitful by omission to identify conservative voices as being conservative, while not doing the same for liberal voices. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, because as I said earlier, this is standard operating procedure for liberal reporters. But Bruce Murphy is capable of being better than your run of the mill liberal reporter.

  8. bruce murphy says:

    Bill Marsh, thanks for your kind words as well as your challenge. I would note the LWV has argued since the 1970s that voting maps should be drawn by an independent agency or commission and not by elected representatives, and the Democrats held power most of that time. It was criticized by Dems for this position. No one on its board is allowed to get involved in partisan politics.

    WDC’s main function is to track political donations to all candidates, Republican or Dem, which shines a light on both parties. And its prior leader Mike McCabe had once worked as an aide to Assembly Republicans. Its current leader Matt Rothschild is a longtime liberal who worked with the Progressive mag. But the organization has routinely bashed the role of money in electing either Dems or Republicans.

    When you’re writing columns like this you’re looking for a shorthand way to characterize groups and nonpartisan seems the most accurate, but it comes nowhere near describing the groups entirely. The other issue we now face is that goal posts have been moved. No one complained years ago if you called these groups non-partisan. But now as they operate in an environment where nearly all power in the capitol is held by Republicans and as their role is to be watchdogs or stand for good government, they will inevitably look like they are anti-Republican, because they are running everything. And so conservatives complain that they are liberals.

    Meantime, none of those crying “partisan witch hunt” are those working with non-profits like these two groups but are avowedly partisan: Sykes, Club for Growth, Republican politicians.

  9. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Bruce, I did not think that even you were that naive. Independent agency, sure made up of Mormons? angels. Nuts, there is no such thing.
    Really dumb comments. Founding fathers knew that, King used to appoint committees. did not work out well.

  10. David Nelson says:

    Well… Murphy just gave a good explanation for his description of those groups as non-partisan, and in general, that’s fairly accurate. Some may argue the point based on the individual people who are part of these groups, although the criticisms are often vague and unsupported. The important issue is whether the “non-partisan” groups support transparent government, clean elections, effective communication, and are against gerrymandering by any political group. If these ideals are upheld, they are probably worthy groups. Strangely, I don’t hear much substantive support for these principles from “conservatives.” I’ve had respect for honest conservatives in the past, and I do nowadays on those rare occasions when I encounter one. It’s time to stand up for honest political action and ditch the rhetoric.

  11. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    David,, Bruce is rank Lefty. always has. His reporting is editorial just as mine are. There is no such thing as a non partisan group, look at its leaders and stands. There are none in Wisconsin.
    If he could get Jesus to come back I would trust him, no one else.
    Where were all of you when Tony Earl gerrymandered the state?

  12. David Nelson says:

    wcd: I’ve seen some positions Murphy has taken on this site which were moderate or old-style conservative, and fairly often, not of detectable partisan influence. That you (who come here so often) do not recognize this variability is a sign of bias. This isn’t to say I always agree with Murphy.

    One of the best ways to detect a biased person is to note how often they use words like: always, never, no such thing, only etc. These absolutist words absolutely belong in our use of language, but overuse tends to indicate prejudice. Conversely, note that the root of considerate is to consider. If you can’t consider…

  13. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Bruce does have a bias toward reality and good governance. Both things should be non-partisan, but because the WisGOPs have gone so far off into criminality and bubble-world, they are portrayed as “liberal.” That’s a you problem, righties. That’s not Bruce’s problem.

    Come to think of it, you see the same divide in this John Doe case.

    PS- This is where it should be noted that Rebecca Bradley (Foundation) is attending an event hosted by Dumb Dohnal (aka Wis Conservative Digest). Think she might have her mind made up in cases like this?

  14. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Jake, case is over dummy. To you it is Mr. Dumb dohnal, RPh

  15. Frank says:

    This discourse shows why it’s important to appeal state court ruling to US Supreme Court. Wisconsin seems to be totally out of impartiality. Everyone is either left-leaning or carrying water for WMC. So let the Supreme Court have at it.

  16. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Frank, spend your money not our taxpayers money on these foolish vendettas. You have a complete lack of knowledge on the law. Federal courts have already tossed this back into the state courts. Federal courts, most notably on Wisconsin Right to Life, have also ruled on these 527’s. Opinions without knowledge are worthless and you have no knowledge.

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