The John Doe process has become a political weapon intended to serve partisan ends regardless of the law. Kudos to a judge who was brave enough to read the law and stop it
If you don’t know what a John Doe probe is, you’ll probably feel better to know that I never heard of ’em before, either. I found this:
Unlike normal criminal proceedings, which can be initiated if there is probable cause to believe a person has violated the law, John Doe proceedings help law enforcement develop the evidence necessary to establish the very existence of probable cause.
The John Doe proceeding gives law enforcement powers not otherwise available to them. For example, it gives law enforcement the power to subpoena witnesses, to take testimony under oath, to offer immunity from prosecution, and to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses.
It also apparently grants prosecutors the right to bang down peoples’ doors and confiscate their
donor lists stuff – while they aren’t even allowed to phone a lawyer.
The five-county investigation remains open, but subpoenas issued in the probe to conservative political groups supporting Gov. Scott Walker were quashed, sources familiar with the development said. The ruling — which is sealed — raises First Amendment concerns about the subpoenas.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has not turned up any Democratic candidates or liberal interest groups involved in the recall elections that have been contacted by John Doe prosecutors.
“The John Doe is still open,” said one individual familiar with the case.
But other sources said Friday’s ruling seriously undercuts the well-publicized probe, launched in summer 2012. Those familiar with the case said the decision was handed down by retired Appeals Judge Gregory A. Peterson,the presiding judge in the investigation who took over the case in November.
Peterson said late Friday that he could not comment on any aspect of the case because the proceedings are still covered by a secrecy order. John Doe investigations allow prosecutors to work in secret while compelling witnesses to turn over documents and give testimony.