Letter to the editor which may or not see the light of day in print.
I never fail to marvel at George Will's ability to wield language in such a fashion as to denigrate liberals (anyone to the left of Rick Santorum) and trash those he purports to support (law enforcement). His omission of facts also serves to said him in his effort. In the May 6th edition of the Herald, his column titled “Government by Intimidation” is only the latest effort. I will not attempt to refute his entire article (the Herals has its limit) but pick three quotes.
“While sheriff's deputies used floodlights...armed raiders seized documents...” Really? Why does Mr. Will feel the need to describe the selfsame deputies as “armed raiders”? Is there a difference in their classification when they're using a floodlight as opposed to seizing documents? A shallow ploy to make the execution of judicially issued search warrant seem nefarious.
In discussing the use of John Doe summonses he laments, “The identities of the targets are kept secret, and the targets are silenced...preventing public discussion...” Unfortunately for Mr. Will this is one of the purposes of a John Doe summons. The secrecy also serves those under investigation by “prevent(ing) testimony that may be mistaken or untrue or irrelevant from becoming public” according Hurley, Burish and Stanton, a Wisconsin law firm.
Finally he equates the investigation with “...govenment power wielded secretively for vengeance and intimidation.” and tells Wisconsin they need to “...eliminat(e) corrupt prosecutors and processes...” Let's just skip the inconvenient fact that there has been no proof of prosecutorial misconduct. Under Wisconsin statute 968.26 establishing John Doe investigations, affirmed by the Wisonsin Supreme Court in 1889, these investigations are overseen by a district court judge. In the specific instance here, there were five separate jurisdictions with three Democratic and two Republican prosecutors. Seems to me it would be difficult for all five of these elected individuals to wish vengeance upon the governor.
Finally just a couple of facts Mr. Will conventiently omitted. This investigation was apparently an outgrowth of a prior John Doe investigation of Scott Walker while he was Milwaukee County executive. An investigation which led to the conviction of three former aids, one political appointee, and a major campaign contributor. Also, the Republican Attorney General was requested to oversee the investigation and took four months to decide he didn't want to get involved. The investigation was then led by a former Federal Prosecutor, Francis Schmitz.
If you were to take Mr. Will's column at face value, you would be led to believe that a veritable mob of progressive, liberal prosecutors have trampled willy-nilly over the rights of poor citizens in Wisconsin and, “Oh, the humanity! Can nothing be done to relieve us of these jackbooted thugs?” Fortunately such is not the case. Unfortunately, when a columnist omits necessary information and uses inflammatory language to reach his conclusion (the one he's trying to sell you), he's planting seeds in salted earth.
Sources: The second site was informative and probably would mirror Georgia's provisions for John Doe summonses. I simpy lacked the fortitude to find out.
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