Showing posts with label Judge Neal Nettesheim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judge Neal Nettesheim. Show all posts

Mar 1, 2014

Wisconsin GOP Flacks Say Kill John Doe Law in Effort to Protect Scott Walker

Scott Walker still hides from Wisconsin and has
offers no comment on the secret router and
email system used by Walker and his aides
It is clear that GOP flacks and politicians do not know what Wisconsin's John Doe statute is; they just don't like it when the law is used to find out Republicans who commit crimes against the Wisconsin people.

John Doe probes find the guilty and protect the innocent, a dangerous law enforcement mandate for Republicans in Wisconsin politics today.

Law enforcement acting in the John Doe probe found evidence of GOP criminality beyond a reasonable doubt, so predictably Republican flacks want to kill the John Doe statute (the text of the Wisconsin statute is newly and heavily annotated online).

GOP arguments—such as there are—are unsound and uninformed.

Take today's Wisconsin State Journal's Chris Rickert.

Rickert writes,
But whereas a John Doe can dam up just about any information about who they’re targeting and why, a grand jury offers at least a few opportunities for information to leak out, providing clues into what prosecutors are after. ...

The argument for dumping Doe is simple enough from a health-of-the-democracy perspective. Politicians are adept at misrepresenting their opponents’ positions and spinning news to fit their agendas.
John Doe probes do not "target" anyone.

Their charge under law is to investigate if and by whom crimes have been committed when practical difficulties, like stonewalling by Scott Walker that resulted in the first John Doe, and conflicts of interest make law enforcement investigations impractical, and when innocents could be hurt "from the fallout of frivolous prosecutions" (Berghahn) vis a vis John Doe probes.

"The whole purpose of the John Doe is to inquire whether possible criminal activity occurred," said the retired judge (Neal Nettesheim overseeing the first John Doe). "The John Doe served its purpose. It's to resolve uncertainty and to go where the evidence takes you." (Bice and Umhoefer. MJS)

Secrecy is not mandated, but secrecy protects innocents and the investigation, so secrecy codicils are often employed in John Doe probes.

If and only if a criminal charge is brought or evidence points to a charge being likely does someone like Scott Walker aides or appointees—Tim Russell, Kevin Kavanaugh, Darlene Wink, Kelly Rindfleisch for example—find out he or she is a target.

Russell and Kavanaugh embezzled $10,000s from non-profits meant for veterans and their families, so naturally readers won't hear their names often from Republicans.

John Doe probes are not mini-trials, they are law enforcement investigations that may or may not result in prosecutions.

As for the health-of-the-democracy argument, just because Republicans are revealed to be corrupt and charged and convicted of crimes (with no claims of innocence) does not mean the John Doe statute is suddenly "undemocratic."

If Republicans want to make the argument that Tim Russell, Kevin Kavanaugh, Darlene Wink, Kelly Rindfleisch et al., are innocent then by all means, let's examine their presented evidence and hear their arguments.

No such claims of innocence from the first John Doe probe (even from GOP flacks) have been made because against the evidence such claims are ludicrous.

No, Republicans are going after the statute because they know that Scott Walker is dirty and has been for a long time, and they wish to protect Walker.

Being innocent and yet convicted and in prison does not weigh heavily on most Republicans' minds.

Ask Penny Brummer, an innocent women who sits in prison, or Robert Lee Stinson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for whom a wrongfully convicted bill is named, killed by Republicans in the state assembly.

Ask Scott Walker who says he cannot grant pardon because there are too many innocents in Wisconsin prisons, a beyond-belief argument that ought to disqualify Walker from public office.

Walker used the Milwaukee County Executive's office as a campaign machine for governor because he felt is he was entitled; Walker violated public records law because he felt he was entitled; and Walker won't talk to the press now because he knows as well that he is neck-deep in uncharged crimes.

Now, I am no attorney but I'm thinking what just about every non-Republican jurist is thinking: Scott Walker should have been charged at a minimum with Misconduct in Public Office (Wisconsin Statute 946.12), but some people like Scott Walker and Republicans are more equal than others.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, who was leading the first John Doe investigation, knows this, and backed away from charging Walker last year because he was afraid of the fall-out.

Mar 4, 2013

Questions Exist for DA and Presiding John Doe Judge on Using Wrong Standard of Proof

DA's policy on John Doe Probe
Update II: I think DA Chisholm and Judge Nettesheim should be moving ahead with charges against Scott Walker; and predictably the GOP-front group that laughably calls itself a news service, the "MacIver News Service," is attacking Chisholm for the costs of the John Doe probe, begun because of Scott Walker's stonewalling. Great, so release the records of the proceedings and to the extent possible give the GOP-front group, Maclver an accounting of the costs of the John Doe probe. What do ya say Maclver 'News Service,": Open up the John Doe records proceedings?

Update: The Wisconsin Benchbook reads in part RE John Doe Proceedings:

A: "Proceeding to determine whether crime committed and by whom."

D. "Must conduct self as neutral detached magistrate in determining probable cause [47.47.]

In the Milwaukee District Attorney's press release last week announcing the closing of the John Doe probe into Scott Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive, the DA's press release reads in part: "I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded," per the Milwaukee DA's policy.

What about possible charges that are supported by the standard of 'probable cause', referred to in both the Wisconsin John Doe statute and Wisconsin Benchbook.

Why did the John Doe probe (presided over by Judge Neal Nettesheim whom right-wingers predictably slurred) use the high threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt" as the basis on whether to bring criminal charges, as stated by the Milwaukee DA.

A call on this matter made this morning to the Milwaukee DA's office has not yet been returned.

John Doe probes examine, investigate and determine if and by whom a crime has been committed, per Wisconsin statute

John Doe probes are not mini-trials; full evidential trials in which a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is reached. [Consider the cases Wisconsin v. Hooper, 101 Wis.2d 517, 544, 305 N.W.2d 110 (1981)) and Wisconsin v. Dunn, 121 Wis.2d at 396-97, 359 N.W.2d 151 (1984).]

The probe's purpose and charge determine whether there is sufficient evidence and facts establishing probable cause that charges against a defendant should go forward and a probability of guilt exists at trial.

The significance of using this threshold of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' is that there may well be a rat's nest of facts and evidence gathered that would establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, and charges would ensue in a different prosecutorial forum like a federal grand jury or other such criminal investigation.

So, what's the deal? Did the Milwaukee DA use a policy that is at odds with standards suggested by the preliminary examinations (hearings) discussed in the two Supreme Court cases referenced above?

It is noted in Hooper (a John Doe case) that "prosecuting attorneys possess broad discretion in determining whether or not to charge a defendant and thereby initiate criminal proceedings," and that DAs enjoy "quasi-judicial prosecutorial discretion."

Still, since when are John Doe probes the forum in which a DA and judge choose among conflicting gathered facts, evidence or inferences, and in which the DA and judge weigh evidence and make a finding of guilt or innocence? I thought that criminal trials do that.

The John Doe probe is the start of the trial process; not the judge and jury and concluding forum. So, why the heightened bar? Consider Dunn:

The parties in this case disagree as to what quantum of evidence is necessary at a preliminary hearing to establish to a reasonable probability that the defendant committed a felony. The court of appeals held that the probable cause requirement is satisfied if any reasonable inference supports a conclusion that the defendant probably committed a felony even though there are equally strong inferences to the contrary. In such instance, the state's evidence would not be required to reach the level that guilt is more likely than not.

Justice Louis J. Ceci. (STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant, v.Ronald J. DUNN, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner)

Now, I always believed that the DA's office criminally charged when they thought they had probable cause, and went to trial when they thought they can win cases involving alleged great public harm. They go to court to win; so does the accused's defense.

A John Doe probe finds you likely to have committed a crime, then you are sentenced? No, you have a right to a trial, and a right to a presumption of innocence.

Consider grand juries in Wisconsin; they use the low standard of "probable cause" to determine whether to bring criminal charges against a defendant, thus the cliche, grand juries can indict ham sandwiches.

Different standards of proof are used in our criminal justice system processes; for example:

  • Beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Clear and convincing proof
  • Preponderance of evidence
  • Reasonable doubt
  • Reasonable suspicion
A John Doe probe is an extraordinary, secret investigation begun and conducted under Wisconsin statute 968.26.

The factor(s) causing a John Doe probe can range from conflict of interest to practical difficulties or in the probe into Scott Walker's office: Stonewalling by Scott Walker's office, (presided as mentioned over by Judge Neal Nettesheim).

Nothing in the Wisconsin statute 968.26 on John Doe probes mandates this very high legal standard, 'beyond a reasonable doubt', in determining if there is sufficiently credible evidence to warrant a prosecution.

The standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' typically is the standard that criminal juries use to determine guilt and innocence in trials. 

The Wisconsin BenchBook, a judicial guide, confirms no such high standard of proof as the threshold John Doe jurists must use to bring charges.

Let's take a look at a lay definition of 'beyond a reasonable doubt':  "The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty," reads one Legal Dictionary.

This is not the standard that prosecutors, or grand juries, typically use as the determining basis of whether to bring criminal charges.

Again why did the Milwaukee DA's office use this high standard, 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as the determining bar of whether the office should bring charges against Scott Walker?

I ask because if the lower standard of probable cause were used, Wisconsin likely would have a sitting governor facing multiple criminal charges.

For now, most of the John Doe's record of proceedings remain secret, but may be released at Judge Nettesheim's discretion, perhaps in a different forum.

The Wisconsin Benchbook reads: G. "John Doe Judge rendering judicial decision must create record for possible review [47.65]."

Mar 1, 2013

Walker Owes Wisconsin a Full Accounting of John Doe Affair

Scott Walker's responsibility to come clean with the Wisconsin people remains. Walker needs to face the Wisconsin people and say: 'Ask me anything; transparency and trust are paramount in Wisconsin.'

The John Doe probe that resulted in criminal charges against six individuals closely associated with Scott Walker is closed.

No criminal charges are being brought against Scott Walker about whom it was revealed—after Walker repeatedly misled the Wisconsin people— that the John Doe probe was requested by the Milwaukee DA's office after "being stonewalled by Gov. Scott Walker's office when he was county executive(.) ...  On May 5, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed a petition with court officials asking if his office could initiate a secret investigation ... ." (Bice, MJS)

I have been told by an informed jurist that the presiding judge, Neal Nettesheim, has some discretion in opening some of the John Doe proceedings.

Certainly, a report of the records made public is called for in this extraordinary affair in Wisconsin history.

A legal opinion on this matter regarding the discretion of the judge in opening records is certainly warranted.

And can those who have testified now also answer questions about the probe?

How about Walker's criminal defense fund; who has contributed to it?

In any event Scott Walker, no longer bound by the secrecy orders of the investigation, has no excuse not to face the Wisconsin people in unscripted listening sessions and answer fully the questions of the people he is supposed to be serving.

The John Doe proceedings are closed.

Walker's responsibility to come clean with the Wisconsin people remains.

What exactly is Scott Walker afraid of from an unscripted listening session with the Wisconsin people?

Feb 6, 2013

Will John Doe Probe of Scott Walker's Office also Result in a Civil Action

Informed Wisconsin jurists confirm that the documentary record of John Doe proceedings in Wisconsin can remain secret even after criminal convictions might be secured and the proceedings are declared to be ended, at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Irrespective of what happens after the proceedings are closed [no one knows when], Eye on Wisconsin asks today, When John Doe Ends, Will Civil Remedies Begin?

A good question to pose of the sordid affairs of the only sitting Wisconsin governor to ever have formed a criminal defense fund.

Feb 1, 2013

Scott Walker Still Refusing to Speak to Wisconsin People on Criminal John Doe Probe

Tim Russell and long-time aide and friend, Scott Walker
Update: Many outside Wisconsin -- following the news here the last two years as Scott Walker and Republican senators used Koch brothers money to hold onto political power -- have asked, 'what's wrong with Wisconsin? First Russ Feingold is gone and now ... ?' A big part of the answer is the amount of money the Republicans, with their hands out, have at their disposal. Perhaps equally important is the fact that the Wisconsin broadcast and corporate media have buried the Walker-Tea Party-GOP corruption, a part of which is under investigation by the criminal John Doe probe. Consider today's print edition of the GOP's Wisconsin State Journal. Buried on page five under the small AP "Digest" is some four column inches of the news that Walker "adds money to legal defense fund." No quote from non-GOP sources (though) they are readily available. Just a Walker-slanted piece with a reference to Walker spokeswoman, Nicole Tieman, who is quoted with no knockdown that Walker needs the money to "cooperate" with John Doe authorities.

Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on the other hand, quotes Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski: "It is beyond belief at this point that Walker had no role in crimes that have led to the convictions of six aides and supporters. Time will tell what's in store for him."

News today that "Gov. Scott Walker transferred $40,000 in campaign funds late last year to his legal (criminal defense) fund," has renewed questions about whether Wisconsin citizens' governor is a crook.

The three-year John Doe probe into Scott Walker's rise to political power during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive has discovered a rat's nest of criminal activity and secured the convictions of the nucleus of Walker's political inner circle.

As for explanation from Scott Walker to the people of Wisconsin, no one in Wisconsin's formerly squeaky-clean political culture expects Walker to visit all (or any) of Wisconsin's 72 counties in listening sessions and say: Ask me anything. You deserve to know your governor is not a crook.

No one expects Walker to explain why he refused to publicly call upon his personally appointed former aides (now convicted felons) to simply tell the full truth to John Doe investigators working for the Milwaukee District Attorney's office.

As noted in today's column by Cognitive Dissidence, not one convicted felon who worked for Walker has come forward and publicly declared Walker's innocence of misusing his public office for political, private puposes—a felony.

This complete silence of the Walker gang, including those who pled guilty to felonies and have been sentenced is not demanded by the secrecy codicils of the John Doe proceedings.

Reads Wisconsin statute on Criminal Proceedings (968.26 on John Doe Proceedings):

Subject to s. 971.23, if the proceeding is secret, the record of the proceeding and the testimony taken shall not be open to inspection by anyone except the district attorney unless it is used by the prosecution at the preliminary hearing or the trial of the accused and then only to the extent that it is so used. A court, on the motion of a district attorney, may compel a person to testify or produce evidence under s. 972.08 (1). The person is immune from prosecution as provided in s. 972.08 (1), subject to the restrictions under s. 972.085.
Point is: Nothing prevents Walker or his gang from saying: 'Look, I'm innocent. This slander must stop. And Scott Walker surely is innocent of misuse of public office, in my view.'

Or Walker could have negotiated an immunity deal; saying in effect: Anyone is my past administration breaks the law; they get what they deserve.'

Walker took a different way.

Walker's response has been to hire a PR firm; become the first sitting Wisconsin governor in history to form a criminal defense fund; and continually mislead the Wisconsin people and the gullible press about why the John Doe Proceedings were begun in the first place—Walker's stonewalling.

John Doe proceeding can be kept secret even after convictions might be secured and the proceedings are declared to be ended.

But the presumption of innocence under the law, and the right to declare one's innocence live on. This right is not negated by John Doe proceedings.

Why is no one in this matter declaring their own or past colleagues' innocence?

Nov 28, 2012

Walker Probe Is to Determine If and When a Crime Was Committed

Rightwingers really live in their own world.

Like when they say the John Doe probe is now winding up. You know that how?

Republicans know perfectly well, I think, that the John Doe proceedings are over when the DA and presiding judge say the proceedings over, the whole point of the John Doe probe is to determine if and by whom crimes were committed.

As has been pointed out now, but never repeated by the corporate press, in Wisconsin, no one is ever told he or she is a 'target' of a John Doe investigation until he or she is charged with a crime, at which point being a target is readily apparent.

Telling a criminal suspect that he or she is a 'target' would, in the words of one jurist, "defeat the purpose" of a John Doe investigation.

Still Walker and his lackeys keep repeating Walker's I'm-not-a-target nonsense. You know that how?

Wisconsin statute 968.26 on John Doe proceedings is the statutory authority for conducting John Doe probes in Wisconsin.

The John Doe investigation began because Scott Walker covered up the crimes of his Milwaukee County Executive's office.

As Dan Bice reported in June 2012:

"Milwaukee County prosecutors opened the secret John Doe criminal investigation more than two years ago after being stonewalled by Gov. Scott Walker's office when he was county executive, according to a newly released record."

Scott Walker is the problem, and cause of the John Doe probe.

Jun 28, 2012

Scalia the Hack; Neal Nettesheim the Judge

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a hack who needs to resign from the Supreme Court, says E.J. Dionne Jr., though Dionne uses less accurate but more polite language in advocating Scalia's resignation for corruption.

Here in Wisconsin, the land of the know-nothing Wisconsin corporate media, we have Judge Neal Nettesheim convening and overseeing the John Doe investigation into the Scott Walker gang and its veterans' money embezzling beauties.

A desperate, long-time aide to Walker, Tim Russell, keeps making ludicrous motions that must keep the Milwaukee County DA's office in good spirits as its demolishes this Republican vermin.

Judge Nettesheim is not a good target for Republicans as his ethics and impartiality are unassailable.

May 30, 2012

Walker Is Desperate, as Rightwingers Slur John Doe Judge

Update: Scott Walker says he hired criminal defense attorneys to be "efficient." And that his criminal defense fund will not be used for his aides, just for himself. Walker admits implicitly that he is being investigated, charged or convicted regarding his crimes related to misconduct in office and illegal campaigning. Meanwhile, the Legal Defense Fund Transparency Act will be introduced in the Wisconsin legislature, as Walker continues to refuse to disclose details regarding his legal defense fund.

Scott Walker's PR machine is, as predicted here in April, slurring presiding John Doe judge, appellate Judge Neal Nettesheim.

That didn't take long; in reaction to the John Doe criminal corruption ads no doubt.

No word from Walker that's he innocent.

No word from Walker demanding that his aides tell the truth.

We did get a vow from Walker that he won't pardon his criminally charged aides—Tuesday, May 29. Thanks, Scott!

But no word from Walker that his aides didn't steal from veterans, and did not use "some of the funds to pay to renew the domain names for several Walker gubernatorial campaign websites." (Bice. MJS)

Can anyone imagine what the reaction in the GOP press would be for a sitting Democratic governor's top aide, hired and promoted by this governor, to steal money from veterans and use the money for registering campaign websites, and taking Hawaiian and Caribbean vacations with his domestic partner? (Bice. MJS) This is just what Tim Russell did.

Will any Republican stand up and challenge Tim Russell for what he did? Condemn stealing from veterans?

Here's a fact sheet on  Scott Walker's criminal corruption.

May 21, 2012

Republicans Launch Attack on John Doe Investigation

Update: A reader asks if all personnel of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office place Recall Scott Walker signs in their yards, will Republicans and Scott Walker in return stop stonewalling the Wisconsin people and finally answer questions about when Walker knew about the secret networking router in the county executive's office? The GOP may even explain why Walker's top aides embezzled from veterans and their families in Operation Freedom.

Maybe there's a perfectly logical reason for the embezzlement that just hasn't occurred to us. Poor misunderstood Republicans.

In a sign that the John Doe investigation is closing in on Scott Walker, the GOP journal, Media Trackers, has run a story attacking David Budde whom the Party says is the "Chief Investigator in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office."

The Republican Party organ also has picked up the Charlie Sykes-Journal Communications line that the John Doe investigation is leaking, though Media Trackers refuses to divulge to what leaks it is referring.

Republicans are upset that David Budde's house has a recall Scott Walker sign in the yard, in accordance with every policy and ethical code.

Tellingly, the GOP piece does not point to any policy or ethical code to which Budde would be found to be violating.

So, Brian Sikma's piece is the best the GOP can do? No wonder the Party is so upset.

Walker is in bigger trouble than the Media Trackers flacks know.

Informed sources have said that Scott Walker has also met with federal investigators working with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in a separate investigation looking into criminal corruption during Walker's tenure as Milwaukee county executive.

Several Walker aides are alleged to have ran a secret campaign for Walker's successful run for governor in 2010 and face misuse of public office criminal charges in the John Doe investigation, among other felonies and misdemeanors

Check out GOP piece and note that not one criminal complaint in the John Doe investigation is challenged on the facts.

The John Doe criminal complaints thus far can be found at:  Walker Investigation.

May 1, 2012

WisPolitics: Walker transferred campaign money to criminal defense fund

Looks like Scott Walker's jetting around the country may prove as much about keeping him out of prison as keeping him in the Wisconsin governor's mansion.

Wispolitics' JR Ross reports, "Gov. Scott Walker transferred $60,000 to his legal defense fund during the pre-primary period, according to his campaign finance report."
The question facing Walker is: Will Wisconsin elect a crook, and a govenor who condones his top aides' unethical and illegal behavior?

Apr 19, 2012

Scott Walker Misleading Wisconsin on Targets of John Doe Probe

When Kelly Rindfleisch learned she is a target

Update: Don't look for a box score listing the legal disposition for everyone contacted and interviewed by John Doe investigators, but one person interviewed has been publicly cleared by the probe, out of an apparent sense of fairness by the Milwaukee DA's office. (Bice. MJS, April 19, 2012) Good for you, DA Chisholm; the law can afford to be just. [Uppity Wisconsin suggests a deal reached on this matter.]

Wisconsin jurists contacted for this piece are unanimous on the following point: In Wisconsin, no one is ever told he or she is a 'target' of a John Doe investigation until he or she is charged with a crime, at which point being a target is readily apparent. Telling a criminal suspect that he or she is a 'target' would, in the words of one jurist, "defeat the purpose" of a John Doe investigation.

Wisconsin statute 968.26 on John Doe proceedings is the statutory authority for conducting John Doe probes in Wisconsin.

Of great interest to Wisconsin citizens in the John Doe investigation of Scott Walker's and his aides' possible [likely] illegal practices while serving in the Milwaukee County Executive's office, is the following message repeated by Walker and his PR flacks:

'We reiterate again that the governor has been told he is not the target of the investigation,' said Walker campaign spokesperson, Ciara Matthews. (Spicuzza. Wisconsin State Journal, March 10, 2012) That's a variation of Walker's line pushed: I haven't been told I am a target.

The next questions asked of Matthews and Walker should be: Is that what is supposed to happen? You get told you're a target by the district attorney's office and the presiding judge in John Doe probes?


I am not a target
No text of the John Doe statute, no derived rules on John Doe proceedings, no best practices, in point of fact nothing by law, procedure or satisfaction of rights of those [and there is likely many] contacted and interviewed compels or even mildly suggests alerting a suspect that he or she is a 'target.' Scott Walker just made that up, and will keep repeating I-am-not-a-target until he gets asked on camera about this nonsense.

Telling someone he is a target would in the words of one jurist, "defeat the purpose" of a John Doe investigation. [Written here before are the words, Scott Walker Is Not the DA's Number One Helper. "Help," as in Walker wants to help the DA is another misleading PR job Walker is putting out, deceiving the Wisconsin people as he sets up his criminal defense fund.]

The purpose of a John Doe investigation is to determine if and by whom a crime has been committed in a given court's jurisdiction, by statute.

There are a very wide range of causes why a district attorney might request a judge to convene a John Doe proceeding: Conflicts of interest, practical difficulties, and so on.

But if the GOP propaganda machine, like Charlie Sykes, wishes to slur the DA's office, he might with more justice try taking on the presiding judge.

By statute 968.26 (2) (b):

The judge shall convene a proceeding as described under sub. (3) if he or she determines that a proceeding is necessary to determine if a crime has been committed. When determining if a proceeding is necessary, the judge may consider the law enforcement investigative reports, the records and case files of the district attorney, and any other written records that the judge finds relevant.
That judge would be Appeals Judge Neal Nettesheim. So, Media Trackers and the Wisconsin Reporter—get to work, time to slur another Wisconsin jurist.

And Scott Walker, there is one document that actually does alert you that you have become a target: A criminal complaint.

You'll see.