May 15, 2014

Wisconsin DAs Call out Judge Ruldoph Randa: Open John Doe Records

Update III: Wisconsin Public Radio has updated their story, and confirmed that the story is inaccurate with a link to Judge Randa's proposed order: "CORRECTION: "Wisconsin Public Radio reported this morning that Judge Rudolph Randa had issued a ruling in the John Doe lawsuit ordering nearly all documents in the case to be released to the public. It was a proposed order, not a final order, and has not been signed by Judge Randa.We regret the error."

Update II: Wisconsin John Doe attorneys have filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reauthorize their authority over the John Doe investigation, and are seeking an order preventing U.S. District Judge Ruldoph Randa from taking further action on this law enforcement investigation while it proceeds, Patrick Marley reports.

Update: Wisconsin Public Radio report is inaccurate; and is retracted . Judge Ruldoph Randa ordered the release of more than 100 documents, reports Wisconsin Public Radio. Randa orders that four documents stay sealed because the Wisconsin Club for Growth says their secrecy is needed to secure their First Amendment rights. See update above.

Judge Ruldoph Randa likely is not aware how ridiculous his rulings shutting down the John Doe investigation are.

No one has been charged; no one has gone on trial; the Wisconsin John Doe statute calls for determining these two questions.

But Randa decided it is for him as a federal judge to decide a First Amendment objection during an ongoing state law enforcement investigation.

Worth noting is that no one is targeted before he or she is charged in Wisconsin John Doe probes, despite what readers are told by GOP flacks.

Rightwingers including Judge Randa have complained about the secrecy codicils allowed under Wisconsin's John Doe statute, in Randa's order to shut down a law enforcement investigation.

In Randa's opinion, Randa writes, "the first John Doe developed into a long-running investigation of all things Walker-related," (p.4) a foolish reference to the apparent orderly, bipartisan probe overseen by a presiding judge.

Randa displays his naked bias often in his opinion Eric O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth, Inc. v Francis Schmitz, et al (Case No.  14-C-139), filed May 5, making several references about the "secret" nature of the John Doe probe subpoenas, though secrecy in John Doe probes is typical

In the face of rightwing accusations of "police-state" (George Will) targeting of the Scott Walker campaign and rightwingers, prosecutors yesterday made a motion to open the records, per the John Doe statute.

"Subject to s. 971.23, [Discovery and Inspection] 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," reads the John Doe statute.

The presiding judge has the discretion to ultimately determine if the record is to be made public.

Previously, the Wisconsin Club for Growth had made a call for discovery.

Report Dan Bice and Patrick Marley:

In a surprise move, prosecutors said Wednesday they support opening hundreds of pages of documents from a John Doe probe into fundraising and spending by Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and its conservative allies during recent recall elections. ...

State Reserve Judge Gregory Peterson, who is supervising the probe, filed a one-page response saying he neither supported nor opposed the effort to unseal the documents the journalism groups are seeking.
Randa who has injected himself into the case in a heavily criticized decision and order, is now the deciding authority on if and what records will be released.

Randa's authority may be short-lived, however, as an appeal filed by the five Wisconsin district attorneys, the presiding John Doe judge, and the special prosecutor, a self-identified Republican, Francis Schmitz is still to be decided.

If Randa is to reclaim a shred of credibility, he should order full transparency of the John Doe records, per the District Attorneys' discretion in keeping with state law.

Unless Randa is prepared to declare the Wisconsin John Doe statute unconstitutional on whatever contrived grounds he can imagine [ludicrous but this is Randa], the people of Wisconsin and the litigants will be served by transparency in this case in which Randa should never have made his sweeping decision he ordered on May 5, and his finding of frivolousness by the district attorneys two days later.

Attorneys Samuel Leib, who is representing Milwaukee DA John Chisholm, said: "(Randa's) decision threatens the constitutional authority of every district attorney and the attorney general of the state of Wisconsin." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Yes, the constitutional authority is endangered and one wonder why Wisconsin's governor and attorney general are not intervening on the basis of these concerns.

Sure, Scott Walker's campaign is likely implicated in illegal coordination in violation of Wisconsin campaign finance law, but Walker did take an oath to defend the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions, and so did J.B. Van Hollen.

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