Doe notes: John Doe prosecutors wanted higher-priced lawyers, source says

Part 32 of 32 in the series Wisconsin’s Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Notes from the Land of John Doe.

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Disagreement among the John Doe defendants?

MORE DOE: Dispatches from the Land of John Doe.

A source close to the prolonged secret probe into conservative organizations tells Wisconsin Reporter that there was a “dustup among” the prosecutors — now defendants in a civil rights lawsuit —because they wanted a “particular lawyer” to represent them.

“The attorney was not willing to work for the $175 an hour the state was willing to pay,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous due to his proximity to the investigation. He declined to name the attorney but said “that guy gets a lot more than $175 an hour” in private practice.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “insurer State Farm asked to intervene in the (civil rights lawsuit) Wednesday to resolve a dispute over whether it must pay at least some of the legal bills” of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf.

Landgraf and his fellow assistant DA, David Robles, as well as Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm and Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz, are being represented by private attorneys, at taxpayer expense. To the tune of $175 per hour, capped at $75,000, according to contracts finalized last month.

Asked about the matter of the insurer, Landgraf told the newspaper, “Officially, I have no comment.”

The prosecutors, investigator Dean Nickel, a contracted employee at the state Government Accountability Board, and the presiding judge are being sued in federal court by conservative political activist Eric O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth. O’Keefe, one of the targets of the latest Democrat-launched John Doe probes, claims the year-and-a-half long investigation is an attempt to silence conservative speech through pre-dawn raids at homes and a gag order placed on those subject to it.

The probe’s presiding judge in January quashed several subpoenas, ruling that the prosecutors failed to show probable cause. Schmitz is effectively appealing that decision before a state appeals court.

No Response

John Doe presiding Judge Gregory Peterson has asked to be excused from filing a response to Schmitz’s supervisory writ petition asking that the state’s District IV Court of Appeals to toss out the judge’s order to quash the subpoenas. Peterson argues that, because the decision before the appeals court was “adversely litigated by the parties before him,” the writ is much like an appeal and it would be “inappropriate” for the judge to align with either side — in case the matter is remanded back to his court.

Peterson also notes that his participation is unnecessary because the eight unnamed conservative targets who filed the motion asking the judge to quash the subpoenas are capable of defending the decision in this proceeding.”

“We agree that it is appropriate for a judge who is the subject of a supervisory writ to decline to participate in these circumstances, and therefore grant Judge Peterson’s request,” the appeals court wrote.

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