Investigations into Wisconsin 'John Doe' prosecutions ends with no accountability

The investigations into the potential misconduct of the prosecutor in the Wisconsin "John Doe" case has died with no one being held accountable.

Legal Insurrection's Bill Jacobson called them "some of the worst political abuses of prosecutorial powers ever to take place."  And yet, the prosecutor who ordered the armed, pre-dawn raids on ordinary citizens' homes, the gag orders, threatening of witnesses, and other shocking abuses will go unpunished.

The "crime" was the "illegal collusion" of some Wisconsin conservative groups with the campaign of Governor Scott Walker.  Eventually, the state Supreme Court ruled that the entire case was based on unconstitutional attempts to stymie free speech and free association.

Read Bill's posts on the subject, which detail a frightening ordeal for many innocent people.

A report by former Wisconsin attorney general Brad Schimel found that the Government Accountability Board, the driving force behind the prosecutions, was politically motivated.

AB attorneys represented themselves to the Milwaukee ADAs and to the special prosecutor as experts in the field of campaign finance law.  The Milwaukee ADAs and the special prosecutor relied on the advice of GAB attorneys in proceeding with the investigation.  After reviewing the emails exchanged between the attorneys at GAB, it is apparent that GAB attorneys had prejudged the guilt of Governor Walker, Wisconsin Republicans, and related organizations that they were investigating and this dramatically influenced their ability to give competent legal advice.

GAB attorneys did not act in a detached and professional manner.  The most reasonable inference is that they were on a mission to bring down the Walker campaign and the Governor himself.

But it was the armed raids on people's homes that should wake us up to the threat posed by out-of-control prosecutors.  Here's a description of one of the John Doe raids:

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin's Act 10 – also called the "Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill," it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions – was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs' frantic barking.  The entire house – the windows and walls – was shaking.

David French:

"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.

Conrad Black calls it a "cancer eating American criminal justice":

Sending 29 FBI agents in bullet-proof protective gear and brandishing submachine guns at 6 a.m. to the house where Stone – who is 66 and does not own a firearm – lives with his wife, two dogs, and three cats, to effect another shakedown arrest for alleged untruths uttered by Stone to a congressional committee since Mueller was installed in his totalitarian sinecure, was disgusting and un-American.

The charges could have been laid – and if there is the slightest truth to them, should have been laid – by contacting Stone's lawyer during normal business hours and asking him to produce his client for charging and processing.  So slight was the risk of flight (Stone claims his passport has expired), the judge set bail at an easily manageable (for him) $250,000, which was produced at once.  The entire hideous procedure, as if Stone were a suspected violent criminal with vast resources, at the head of a heavily armed and dangerous organization, and in a home extensively guarded by armed and experienced gangsters and with a helicopter in the backyard, was an outrage that must shock every civilized American, as it astounds the civilized world.

There was absolutely no need or excuse for such an absurd and repulsive use of force in effecting the arrest of a man with no history of violence who is an improbable flight risk and certain to surrender quietly and respond to allegations against him through due process in the courts.  Moreover, he is fully entitled to the constitutional presumption of innocence.

The Justice Department wants to investigate the FBI's tactics, but do you really think anyone will hold Mueller accountable for this outrage?

The Wisconsin "suspects" were average, ordinary, upper-middle-class citizens who never committed a major – certainly not violent – crime in their lives.  Whatever your opinion of Roger Stone, he did not deserve to be frightened out of his mind, as I'm sure he was when SWAT came knocking.

Intimidation is the strategy in both cases.  And rank partisanship is the driving force:

This danse macabre of the ludicrously numerous and over-armed FBI agents filmed by invitation by the CNN propaganda service in their strenuous exercise to frighten Roger Stone's cats and dogs raises the questions of what Mueller and his entirely partisan Democratic lynch-mob, some of whose most prominent members have been exposed and disgraced and fired, think they are now doing.

In the John Doe investigation, every single court that heard one aspect of the case or the other ruled that the prosecution had no grounds at all for his investigation.  Stone's process crimes – lying to authorities – do not warrant dozens of armed federal agents invading his home in a show of force designed to strike fear in the hearts of American citizens. 

The Founders feared this kind of unchecked power and sought to limit the judiciary's ability to make mischief.  What they didn't count on was the human factor – of prosecutors, unaccountable and unelected, using their office and the law for partisan political purposes.