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1037, 13 Sep 15

Wisconsin Legislature to Vote on John Doe This Year

The devil is always in the details.

Legislative leaders in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly have announced they plan to hold a vote later this fall on legislation that would make changes to how John Doe proceedings in the state are conducted.

The bill from Rep. Dave Craig (R-Big Bend) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would end the use of the secret John Doe process to investigate political crimes. The measure comes largely in response to a pair of investigations surrounding Governor Scott Walker – one targeting his office when he was Milwaukee County executive and another that was looking in to potentially illegal coordination between his campaign and conservative groups during the 2012 recall election.

This is very good. Given the abuses of the John Doe process and its untenable premise that there needs to be a separate system of investigatory and proprietorial procedure that strips out due process protections for suspects, the entire John Doe law should be scrapped. I’m curious to see that the legislators mean by “political crimes.” We should just get rid of the whole thing and not try to reform it in a way that only protects politicians. That’s asking for bad publicity for a reform that needs to happen.


1037, 13 September 2015


  1. Dan

    I don’t know.
    Without a doubt a the John Doe was certainly abused with Walker and there can be no doubt it was politically inspired.
    However, there can be some goo uses like this.
    For example the on going problems in Michigan here a couple of MI politicians were in an affair and they were caught but still questions if they broke the law. In this type of case, it may be possible that a John Doe investigation may be needed to find out if ay laws were broken, especially since the parties were not forthcoming and tried to hide the affair and cover up.

  2. Mike

    Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states that use this. Most other states use a grand jury process. Witnesses are under a gag order only until they are done testifying to the grand jury.

  3. Owen

    I think the risk of abuse outweighs the extraordinary circumstances that might warrant it. 49 other states do fine without it and so can Wisconsin.

  4. Fairs Fare

    “49 other states do fine without it”. It’s more like 30 states (the majority) have some form of grand jury. Talk about misleading.

  5. Dan

    Here in Arizona, they have grand juries and John Doe and they can consist of… 1 person who is never named.
    That’s wrong.
    My question would be this: If Jim Doyle or other future democrat governor was under investigation by a John Doe and the GAB and the John Doe was biased, would us conservatives demand loudly the end of the John Doe process? My guess we would be pretty silent.

  6. Fairs Fare

    Thank you for seeing through this politically motivated reactionary nonsense.

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