Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Why John Doe Probe Saved Emails

And why Schimel report complaining about investigators could be wrong.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Dec 8th, 2017 11:21 am
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm launched the John Doe investigation.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm launched the John Doe investigation.

While State Sen. Leah Vukmir expressed outrage that John Doe investigators cataloged some of her personal emails and Attorney General Brad Schimel said he did not understand why they would do that, the Doe investigators were just following good protocol, according to publications on digital investigations.

“If the case ever comes to trial, the investigator presenting the case must be able to prove … the data was not modified during acquisition or analysis (chain of custody),” forensic analyst Michael Graves wrote in The Anatomy of a Digital Investigation.

Vukrmir (R-Brookfield), a candidate for U.S.  Senate, said in a statement that “The upsetting news that my privacy was violated as personal emails between my daughter and I were obtained, read and kept by those who ran the John Doe investigation is absolutely appalling. This criminal behavior is inexcusable, and the individuals involved in this belong in prison.”

Vukmir’s emails were seized during the John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker‘s campaign, according to Schimel’s report, which indicated investigators had a warrant.

Attorney General Schimel, in his new report on his Justice Department’s investigation into the Doe investigation, said that Doe seized emails included “private medical information and other highly personal information. DOJ was unable to determine why investigators ever obtained, let alone saved and labeled, over 150 very private and very personal emails between a Senator and her child. … ”

But Adam Stone, writing for Govtech Works, said, “One final word of advice from the FBI: Keep it all.”

“Without the right protections, digital files can be easily deleted, edited, even fabricated,” he wrote. “So documenting a digital chain of custody is all the more important. A compromised chain can undo a legal proceeding and lay waste to years of investigation. And all a defense attorney has to do is successfully raise concerns about potential tainting of evidence – that alone is enough, let alone demonstrating actual taint.”

One final word of advice from the FBI: Keep it all.

Keith Chval, in the article How to Preserve Digital Evidence in Case of Legal Investigation, says that each item seized in an investigation should be catalogued.

He quotes Patrick Zeller, a former high-tech prosecutor and litigator: “Because digital evidence is more susceptible to intentional or inadvertent alteration or destruction than many forms of evidence, it is critical that a witness be able to offer evidence upon which the judge can conclude that the data is in substantially the same condition as when it was seized.”

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

Categories: Court Watch, Politics

9 thoughts on “Court Watch: Why John Doe Probe Saved Emails”

  1. WashCoRepub says:

    Of course, Gretchen intentionally ignores the finding that there were printed emails marked “Opposition Research.” Why, how could that be, at a ‘nonpartisan’ government watchdog agency?

  2. Adam says:


    It is possible that people at GAB were that partisan and that stupid to write “Opposition Research” on a box. Possible but not likely.
    JSOnline is already finding demonstrably false errors in the DOJ report. I am guessing it’s not the only errors. It is demonstrably true that Schimel is as partisan a lap dog as you could have for AG, so I would not put anything past his department.
    And so it does not get lost in all this crap, the John Doe 2 did in fact find without a doubt that Walker broke the states campaign laws as on the books in 2012. That he has never had to answer for it is the result of a Supreme Court, Legislature and DOJ that have been complicit in obfuscating, obstructing and retroactively changing laws.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Schimel has already had to backtrack on some of his claims, and GAB officials and Special Prosecutor Schmitz are saying the report is filled with LIES…err.. …inaccuracies.

    And why was the scope of emails so big? Possibly because the GOPs wanted it to be that big, in an attempt to bury the investigators in BS, and then play victim in the RW media to poison the well of public opinion.

    Same thing we are seeing in DC with the GOP and the Mueller investigation today. They will impugn and say anything to avoid the public from thinking about the MONEY-LAUNDERING AND PAY FOR PLAY CORRUPTION that is central to John Doe.

    If you can’t spot that Schimel and the rest of the crooked GOP is trying to play you, you are a SUCKER

  4. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Schuld is one of the biggest lairs in Wisconin, the courts found her so.

  5. Bill Marsh says:

    You would think if digital files are so precious we would not be having so many hard drives mysteriously disappearing, being bit bleached, and destroyed in these cases (GAB, IRS, Clinton). This appears to be the MO for such conscientious government politicians and supposed watchdogs for the people that coincidentally are Democratic Party partisans.

    I do find it interesting though how lefties (read the comments on this site) are all for the criminal police state GAB. Just like Roy Moore Republicans willing to rationalize immoral and criminal actions because its their team.

  6. Crazy Chester says:

    They were investigating what had long been considered criminal behavior – and rightly so. Thanks to twisted and intellectually corrupt legal theories from the folks at groups like the Federalist Society infecting the brains of short-sighted judges, behavior of the sort Walker and his ilk regularly engage in is now considered A-OK.

    If decency and real democracy still reigned in this country, those who feel their privacy rights were violated today would have a lot more to cry about than a couple of private emails read.

  7. Bill Marsh says:

    Thanks Crazy, you made my point. You obviously are willing to trample on other peoples’ first and fourth amendment rights for your politically motivated desires. Like I said, you GAB loving lefties are just like Roy Moore Republicans.

  8. Crazy Chester says:

    No one’s rights were trampled here, your callow histrionics aside. The rights I’m concerned about are of those constituents who have been muscled out of the Democratic process through the dominance of moneyed pay-for-play politics and gerrymandering. But please, remain a pawn in their game.

  9. Adam says:

    @Crazy Chester

    Indeed C.C. The greatest internal threat to our country at present is the transition from a democractic republic to a plutocracy. One where a handful of corporations own most assets in this country including our political system. It’s really not that far down the road- we are currently well on our way.
    When it’s complete us common folks will enjoy a lot less freedoms and quality of life than Americans have become accustomed to, despite what AFP and the like tell us. I’m hoping a few more voters will figure this out while we still have the right to vote in a legitimate election.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us