May 19, 2014

Journal-Sentinel Piece on John Doe Statute as "Witch Hunt" Is Odd

Update: See After Railing Against John Doe Secrecy, WI Club for Growth Fights to Keep Docs Secret

The best work on the Scott Walker-John Doe probes without question is the reporting by the staff of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

We know about Scott Walker's stonewalling of his aides' embezzling from veterans' funds, and Scott Walker's many lies on this embezzling because of Dan Bice (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; May 31, 2012).

We know that John Doe I grew from John Doe II (Bice, MJS; Oct. 21, 2013).

Jason Stein, Patrick Marley and Daniel Bice's piece of explanatory journalism today is not on a par as the staff's prior work, and arguably constitutes Republican propaganda—everyday operations in GOP-land, but in this election year a crashing project.

This is what happens when good journalists insert foolish talking points from the Republican Party into a news piece, towards what end is not clear.

Republicans will make up talking points and contradict themselves within hours, and not get called out in the news columns.

Today's headline reads: "Courts to decide whether John Doe a useful tool or unfair witch hunt."

It's a good bet neither of these two questions will be addressed or answered by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. And it is unlikely any Court will rule on the constitutionality of Wisconsin's John Doe statute.

Witch Hunts Need Witches

To conduct a witch hunt, one needs to understand that there are by definition no witches.

[Note: With sincere apologies to the Wiccan religious embrace of life; no disrespect is intended to these positive and life-affirming people.]

Let's consider John Doe I, there are plenty of "witches."

Prosecutors secured multiple criminal convictions against six of Scott Walker's appointees, top staff, and a campaign contributor.

There are no claims of innocence, save Kelly M. Rindfleisch who is appealing her conviction of misconduct in public office.

Would any Republican claim Rindfleisch is innocent?

We know from multiple emails released by Rindfleisch that Scott Walker and his staff ran an illegal political operation out of the Milwaukee County Executive's office, an operation that began as far back as 2002 when Bob Kiefert set up a secret Internet systeman effort coordinated by then-deputy chief of staff Tim Russell (who embezzled over $10,000 from a veterans' fund) and Kiefert was given the nod by then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. [See also Scott Walker Knew about 'Secret' Email System at Milwaukee County; Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive; February 19, 2014).

Seizure by Police

Seizure and serving of subpoenas are intrusive and invasive, which is precisely why we have the Fourth Amendment, and the ACLU. R.J. Johnson should remember this the next time he blasts the ACLU.

In any event, the Journal-Sentinel's appreciation for civil liberties is to be applauded. However, today's piece sensationalizes police work.

If the police acted improperly in seizure of property and serving subpoenas, they should be held accountable. But how does this call into question the John Doe statute or the prosecutors conducting a witch hunt?

Attacking Prosecutors

The "national trend ... attacking prosecutors" while being a "target" mentioned may be relevant to the routine "Brady violations" in which prosecutors illegally withhold exculpatory or other evidence favorable to the defense in a criminal trial.

See‘Epidemic of Brady violations’ decried in Judge Kozinski's opinion, the many wrongful convictions, and the important opinion by Judge Richard Posner (with Wisconsin's Judge Diane Sykes dissenting) of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in which Judge Posner hits absolute immunity for prosecutors, and refuses "to bless a breathtaking injustice" of an innocent man. This innocent man was imprisoned for 17 years, and was the victim of an Illinois prosecutor "coercing a man’s false testimony that led to his conviction and sentence to death row." This repulsive prosecutor was defended by Justice Sykes' opinion.

But Wisconsin John Doe probes determine if and by whom a crime has been committed, and if a case were to forward. There are no targets, as in grand juries, until and if someone is charged.

In this specific John Doe probe, the investigation itself is being attacked, not the prosecution as there is not a prosecution.

The probe has not determined if and by whom a crime has been committed.

The district attorneys are Constitutional officers whom Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refuses to defend by intervening in Eric O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth, Inc. v Francis Schmitz, et al while the case is under appeal.

This is because the Scott Walker campaign and the Wisconsin Club for Growth's R.J. Johnson and other groups apparently illegally coordinated their campaigns during the 2012 Recall elections, and these are factions to whom Van Hollen owes his allegiance.

If this is false, why are Republican spending $ millions trying to stop this investigation?

John Doe Judges

As for Wisconsin's Republican attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen is quoted as saying, he wants judges to no longer preside over filing charges by district attorneys.

Van Hollen may or may not be aware that a presiding judge is a protection against a district attorney who might violate citizens' rights.

Again, witch hunt?

Witch Hunt

By insinuating that Wisconsin's John Doe statute is a witch hunt and calling into question the operation of this John Doe probe, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece contrives a controversy where none exists, if facts are the foundation of this analysis.

Just because a bunch of Republicans yell "witch," this does not mean witches' casting spells are real or that Scott Walker is a straight shooter who holds 100s of no-holds-barred listening sessions with the Wisconsin people.

These things don't happen.

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