BREAKING: Federal Judge Shuts Down John Doe II
Posted at RightWisconsin
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In a devastating setback for the John Doe prosecutors who had targeted conservative activists in Wisconsin, Federal Judge Rudolph Randa on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction effectively halting the investigation.
The ruling comes in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by activist Eric O'Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Randa had earlier dismissed prosecutors' motions to dismiss the case.
In his 26 page ruling Randa ordered the Doe prosecutors to "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."
In the ruling. Judge Randa said that Wisconsin Club for Growth, activist Eric O'Keefe and others "are hereby relieved of any and every duty under Wisconsin law to cooperate further with defendants' investigation."
And in perhaps the strongest rebuke of all, Randa threatened to hold prosecutors in contempt if they made any attempt to continue to compel the targets to comply with the investigation.
Randa's order opens with a description of the October 3, 2013 pre-dawn raids of the homes of conservative activists and delivers a sharp rebuke to the tactics and legal theories of the prosecutors.
"The judge's discussion quotes the First Amendment in a way that suggests the judge is not certain the defendants (the prosecutors) have ever heard of it," said one observer.
"This case requires the Court to decide the limits that government can place on First Amendment political speech."
Randa accused prosecutors of attempting to "to criminalize the plaintiffs' speech under Wisconsin's campaign finance laws. Defendants instigated a secret John Doe investigation replete with armed raids on homes to collect evidence that would support their criminal prosecution."
The decision comes down even as the Doe prosecutors led by Milwaukee's Democrat District Attorney John Chisholm scrambled to appeal Randa's earlier rulings to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth are suing Chisholm and crew, alleging the John Doe prosecutors violated the conservatives’ First Amendment rights in their lengthy, secret investigation into 29 conservative organizations.
The lawsuit, filed in February, is a detailed account of what O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth allege to be a partisan witch hunt, led by Chisholm, a Democrat, to punish conservatives in the state for their political successes in recent years. The complaint seeks a preliminary injunction, halting the investigation.
In his earlier ruling thoroughly rejected the prosecutors’ motion to dismiss the civil rights lawsuit, Randa pushed aside the defendants’ argument that federal courts generally must abstain from taking up federal constitutional claims that involve or call into question ongoing state proceedings.
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