April 21, 2015
|Image credit: Michael Vadon (Flickr)|
Since Scott Walker took office as governor of Wisconsin in 2011, he has faced the state’s bizarre “John Doe investigations”: witch hunts in search of a crime. They have expanded to include conservatives throughout the Badger State.
The tactics used in these investigations have often involved pre-dawn home raids by armed police officers. Those who are the subject of the investigations are prohibited, under force of law, from saying they are the subject of the state’s scrutiny to friends or family.
USA Today contributor Glen Harlan Reynolds, in a recent article entitled Wisconsin’s Dirty Prosecutors Pull A Putin, wrote that the use of the government to go after political opponents is something that one expects under a dictatorship–but not something that should be happening in the United States of America.
A John Doe investigation, according to the statute, is a legal proceeding that a judge authorizes to investigate “any conduct that is prohibited by state law and punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.” It is like a grand jury investigation; but rather than falling on a jury of one’s peers to determine if there is likely criminal activity warranting prosecution, the entire process is overseen by a judge.
Wisconsin Democrats have consistently used it to go after Scott Walker under campaign finance laws. To date, they have failed; but they have also turned their guns to go after his supporters–and conservatives in general–in the state in search of any crime they can find. The key to the investigation going forward is finding an agreeable judge.