MacIver News Service | January 29, 2018
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON, Wis. – A Brown County judge has been tapped to preside over the legal issues left by Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation, including Attorney General Brad Schimel’s request to initiate contempt of court proceedings against nine agents of the unconstitutional probe.
Brown County Judge Kendall M. Kelley has scheduled a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brown County Courthouse in Green Bay. The court “intends to present legal issues for briefing” and to set a briefing schedule related to Schimel’s recommendation.
The attorney general last month issued a report on the state Department of Justice’s year-long investigation into court-sealed John Doe documents leaked in 2016 to a liberal news publication. The report found the leak appears to have come from inside the former Government Accountability Board. The GAB, the state political speech regulator, partnered with the Democrat-led Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office in the secret investigation into right-of-center groups and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.
Schimel, a Republican, asked the John Doe judge to begin contempt of court proceedings against former GAB attorneys, the John Doe special prosecutor, and investigators and prosecutors at the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office.
Kelley last week notified more than 50 interested parties of the hearing, many of them attorneys and judges involved in the John Doe case. The court is prohibiting “information under seal or secrecy” to be “presented, discussed, or solicited.”
The Department of Justice investigation found John Doe agents mishandled the millions of records seized in the probe, failing to properly secure the documents.
Schimel also referred former GAB attorney Shane Falk to the Office of Lawyer Regulation for discipline.
Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge William Hue stepped down last month as presiding John Doe judge after it was discovered he had previously sent out tweets critical of the John Doe investigation.
Kelley was appointed as Brown County judge in 2002 by then-Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican. He was elected to the position in 2003, and re-elected twice since.