Likes “John Doe” investigations
Yeah, I went there. Try telling me your reaction was any different after reading this:
“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”
That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.
“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”
She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”
It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.
Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.
In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”
As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.
Don’t call your lawyer.
Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.
The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.
If you didn’t know this happened in Wisconsin, you’d be excused for thinking this was something out of the 1930s, a raid by the German Gestapo or the Soviet NKVD against political opponents. You would be half-right: this and other atrocities against the Rule of Law were perpetrated against political opponents of a bunch of rogue prosecutors in Wisconsin. Recently. In the United States.
How the Hell could this happen here?
David French’s article goes into the details, but here’s a quick summary: Starting in 2009, the Milwaukee County prosecutor initiated what are called “John Doe” investigations (1) against newly-elected Governor Scott Walker and his political allies, who were working to reform Wisconsin’s collective bargaining rules for public employees. Under the “John Doe” rules, the entire investigation was secret: warrants were kept under wraps, no one could talk to the press, and those under investigation couldn’t even seek help from a lawyer. (Hello? Right to counsel? Sixth Amendment?) The prosecutor, enabled by a potted plant masquerading as a judge, went on a years-long fishing expedition looking for anything he could find, but always centered around supporters of Act 10, the reform bill in question. (And, what a coincidence, his wife was an official of the teachers union that was desperately opposed to this bill.) And not just individuals were persecuted: the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a free-market, low tax advocacy group, was for all intents and purposes put out of business just as crucial elections were approaching, a hammer-blow to its members’ First Amendment rights.
In the end, Act 10 was passed and the Left lost all those elections, and the John Doe investigations have been halted while state and federal courts get involved, but the harm done to its victims is real and isn’t over. These people live in fear now, insecure in their own homes, parents and children traumatized, humiliated, and tarred as suspect before their neighbors, never knowing if the power of the State will kick in their doors again for daring to participate in politics…
This is an absolute outrage. This prosecutor and his buddies abused their power in ways that Kim Jong Un would approve of. Each one of them should –at a minimum– face disbarment and, if applicable, criminal charges. We entrust prosecutors with immense power and discretion; when they abuse it, they should have the book thrown at them.
So, what are you waiting for? Go read the article and get angry.
Afterthought: I think it’s a fair question to ask Scott Walker why he hasn’t gone after this guy hammer and tongs, now that the investigation against him has fallen apart. And why on Earth hasn’t the legislature (as far as I know) hauled in everyone in question under subpoena and under oath for a very public –indeed, televised– grilling? The prosecutors, police, and judge at the heart of this trampled the federal and state constitutions under foot and terrorized innocent people. They should be held accountable.
(1) As I understand it, these were created to protect the identities of those under investigation. The irony is overwhelming.