The PJ Tatler

WI Supreme Court Slaps Down John Doe Investigation

The Wisconsin Supreme Court took a “battering ram” — so to speak — to the corrupt, illegal and unconstitutional “John Doe II investigation” that was launched by partisan Democrat district attorney John Chisholm.

Back in April, National Review’s David French exposed in a blockbuster post how progressives in the state had weaponized law enforcement in an attempt “to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.”

Using language that is harsh and unsparing, the court halted the partisan investigation which abused campaign finance rules to hound, intimidate and ultimately silence conservative groups and smear public officials, including  Gov. Scott Walker.

Via Hot Air, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Thursday morning released a final disposition that was harshly critical of the special prosecutor, calling his legal theory “unsupported in reason.”

To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law.  Consequently, the investigation is closed.  Consistent with our decision and the order entered by Reserve Judge Peterson, we order that the special prosecutor and the district attorneys involved in this investigation must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.  All Unnamed Movants are relieved of any duty to cooperate further with the investigation.


The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection.  The special prosecutor’s theories, rather than “assur[ing] [the] unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people,” Roth, 354 U.S. at 484, instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished.  In short, the special prosecutor completely ignores the command that, when seeking to regulate issue advocacy groups, such regulation must be done with “narrow specificity.”  Barland II, 751 F.3d at 811 (quotations omitted).

The targeted individuals and groups who fought back against the investigation are commended in the court’s conclusion:

Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points.  It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.   In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a “perfect storm” of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them.  It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution.  Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution.  Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.

What’s next for the disgraced officials who participated in this travesty of injustice?

Legal Eagle Gabe Malor at Hot Air notes that “a federal civil rights lawsuit was shut down by the 7th Circuit last year on the grounds that it was premature to involve the federal courts before the state courts had a chance to resolve the claims.” But that lawsuit, or one like it, may now be revived. He says “state action for civil damages is also a possibility.”

The matter should also be referred to the Wisconsin state bar for disciplinary action against the attorneys and  judges involved in the John Doe abuses, if it hasn’t been already.

Right Wisconsin says the John Doe case may be over — but for the prosecutors, the fun is just beginning.

The John Doe is over. But the story is just beginning. The targets are now free to speak. And speak they will because speak they must. This simply cannot happen again. And until the full story is told, until the culprits are held accountable, and until the news media in this state understands that the real story was not allegations of campaign finance violations but prosecutorial abuse; this story continues.