May 7, 2014

Emergency Appeal Filed Against Order Halting John Doe Probe of Scott Walker, Rightwingers

"Less than a day after a federal judge halted a probe into conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, prosecutors filed an emergency appeal Wednesday of the unprecedented decision," reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Mike Maistelman, an election-law attorney, agreed that the case could very well end up before the nation's highest court.

'This is significant,' said Maistelman, who has represented primarily Democrats in the past. 'For the federal judicial branch to halt an investigation conducted by a constitutionally elected official is huge.'
John Doe probes are law enforcement tools to determine if and by whom crimes have been committed in Wisconsin under Wisconsin statute.

Writes attorney Marcus J. Berghahn:

The John Doe proceeding is an institution sanctioned by long usage since Wisconsin’s territorial days. The provisions of Wis. Stat. section 968.26 currently define the scope of a John Doe proceeding in Wisconsin, which is intended as an independent, investigatory tool to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and if so, by whom.

The goal is to allow the judge to determine whether it appears probable from the testimony given that a crime has been committed, and whether to file a complaint.
What Judge Rudolph Randa (of the rightwing Federalist Society) has done is to stop a law enforcement investigation, and order that evidence of possible criminal activity be destroyed.

Randa has a history of bizarre rulings including refusing to recuse himself in child molestation scandal-bankruptcy proceedings by Creditors of the Milwaukee Archdiocese (Goodstein. NYT).

Randa also presided over the trial of an innocent Georgia Thompson, ordering her imprisoned on appeal, until a panel on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered her freed in a spectacular opinion in 2007 after oral arguments, ordering her acquittal.

Randa is described as a loose canon by several attorneys speaking on background.

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