Wisconsin Supreme Court shuts down 'John Doe' investigation

john chisholm

This sad saga of abuse of authority by an unethical and highly partisan prosecutor may finally be at an end.

By way of background, the Milwaukee County prosecutor, John Chisholm, decided to harness his office to Wisconsin’s misnamed ‘Government Accountability Board’ in order to harass Governor Scott Walker and jail, bankrupt or terrify as many of his allies as possible. To this end, innocent people had their doors kicked in, their homes rifled, possessions confiscated and then were forbidden to talk about it. Had Chisholm, whose interest in the case seems to be directly related to his wife being a teacher’s union official, picked on people unable to fight we might not even know of the abuses he perpetrated. As it turned out, some of the targets had the wherewithal to fight him.


When Governor Walker commented on this lawless investigation in Iowa, back in April, he said:

I said even if you’re a liberal Democrat, you should look at (the raids) and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself….

As (the National Review) pointed out, there were real questions about the constitutionality of much of what they did, but it was really about people trying to intimidate people….

They were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt….

Chisholm responded like a petulant little child and seemed to threaten Walker with prosecution:

As to defamatory remarks, I strongly suspect the Iowa criminal code, like Wisconsin’s, has provisions for intentionally making false statements intended to harm the reputation of others.

The truth is always a defense, so let’s get the truth out in a legal manner, not through lies, distortions and misrepresentations.

The case has been in several courts with Chisholm being rebuked at nearly every turn. Today the Wisconsin Supreme Court released its ruling:

Dealing Gov. Scott Walker a victory just as his presidential camapaign gets underway, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday the governor’s campaign and conservative groups had not violated campaign finance laws in recall elections in 2011 and 2012.

The ruling means the likely end of the investigation, which has been stalled for 18 months after a lower court judge determined no laws were violated even if Walker’s campaign and the groups had worked together as prosecutors believe.


It wasn’t just a technical victory. The court ruled that even if everything the prosecutor alleged happened, there was no violation of the law:

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.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court expressed amazement at the scope of the investigation:

The breadth of the documents gathered pursuant to subpoenas and seized pursuant to search warrants is amazing.  Millions of documents, both in digital and paper copy, were subpoenaed and/or seized.  Deputies seized business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.  The special prosecutor obtained virtually every document possessed by the Unnamed Movants relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span (from 2009 to 2013).  Such documents were subpoenaed and/or seized without regard to content or relevance to the alleged violations of Ch. 11.  As part of this dragnet, the special prosecutor also had seized wholly irrelevant information, such as retirement income statements, personal financial account information, personal letters, and family photos.


The court went on to rebuke the prosecutor for how the investigation had been handled:

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.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court essentially agreed with Walker’s April statement and Chisholm was revealed to be a liar and a cretin. This is a vindication that can be used in campaign materials.



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