By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Watchdog
MADISON, Wis. – By now, almost everyone in Wisconsin knows the story of Cindy Archer, the long-time government employee who was awakened at dawn on Sept. 14, 2011 to the sound of “thunderous hammering” on the front door of her Madison home.
Archer is one of the many once-silenced targets of a political probe who is emerging from the shadows in a secret war on Wisconsin conservatives.
Now, an amended complaint in Archer’s federal civil rights lawsuit shines more light on one of the darker days of the infamous John Doe investigation.
At her door, a dozen law enforcement officials awaited Archer, the former aide to Gov. Scott Walker, as she stumbled down the stairs, undressed.
They made enough noise to awaken the middle-class neighborhood. That was the intent, according to the complaint.
“Archer awoke at dawn to thunderous hammering on her front door and the coordinated yelling of the investigative team members, who ordered her to open the door immediately or they would break it down,” states the amended complaint, filed Wednesday in a federal court in Milwaukee. “The noise was sufficiently loud to be heard throughout the neighborhood. Through a window by her bed, Archer saw a battering ram on the front lawn.”
Alarmed and fearing police would immediately burst through her door, Archer ran downstairs without dressing. The investigators saw her exposed through the window; some told her to get dressed.
“Confused, she grabbed clothing and dressed in their line of sight,” the complaint states.
“Nothing could have prepared me for waking up to the shouts of men with battering rams announcing that they were about to break down my door on that morning in 2011,” Archer wrote in a column for the Wall Street Journal.
She opened the door and the officers flooded in, their guns drawn. The document asserts Archer believed the investigators would shoot her two dogs, barking at the intruders.
“There was no reason to believe drawn guns or even armed officers were required to protect the officers from the two unarmed women who lived there,” the complaint states. “The purpose of these actions was retaliation, harassment, and intimidation.”
That allegation – that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, and his team targeted Archer simply because of her political beliefs and her long-time professional association with Walker – is the core of Archer’s civil rights lawsuit. The complaint names Chisholm, assistant DAs Bruce Landgraf and David Robles, and investigators David Budde, Robert Stelter, and Aaron Weiss.
Archer was one of the architects of Walker’s public-sector collective-bargaining reforms known as Act 10. Her lawsuit alleges Democrat Chisholm and his John Doe investigative team retaliated against Walker, Archer and dozens of conservative groups that advocated for the reforms public unions and their allies on the left despise.
Archer’s amended complaint reaffirms her lawsuit’s main allegations despite a story last month in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that claimed audio of the 2011 raid contradicts Archer’s account.
In her original complaint, filed in July, Archer said Chisholm’s John Doe investigators screamed at her, failed to read the language of the search warrant, and didn’t inform her of her constitutional rights.
The Journal Sentinel, which obtained the audio before Archer or her attorneys did, describes what it calls “tense but mannerly exchanges between Archer and Aaron Weiss.”
Weiss, an investigator with the Milwaukee County DA’s office, led the raid, which involved local law enforcement officers and FBI agents.
But the newspaper failed to note that the tape does not appear to capture the opening moments of the raid – certainly not at Archer’s door. The audio also appears to have been edited.
Archer’s amended complaint no longer states that the investigators failed to read her the search warrant and the accompanying John Doe secrecy agreement. Weiss appears to have done just that on the three-hour audio.
David B. Rivkin Jr., Archer’s attorney, in a previous statement said that given the trauma of the day, it wasn’t surprising that his client may not remember every detail with perfect clarity.
“(W)hat is remarkable is that, despite being roused from sleep by officers threatening to knock down her door, being falsely accused of serious criminal activity, and being aggressively questioned as officers swarmed her home, Ms. Archer’s memory of these events holds up in nearly all of their particulars,” Rivkin said.
The John Doe investigators have yet to explain why audio of the raid’s opening moments have not been released.
As the search-and-seizure mission began, Archer said she was told to “sit down and shut up.”
“The officers rummaged through drawers, cabinets and closets. Their aggressive assault on my home seemed more appropriate for a dangerous criminal, not a longtime public servant with no criminal history,” she wrote in the Wall Street Journal column.
After investigators began combing through every corner of her house, Archer reached for a cigarette, the complaint states. An officer scolded her.
From the complaint:
“I advise you not to light that cigarette,” the officer said. Archer responded: “This is my home, and I just woke up.” The officer responded: “We have a search warrant, and you could be in handcuffs now; go with the program.”
Eventually, Weiss allowed Archer outside for a cigarette. Weiss said it was a “courtesy” to allow her to smoke in her own home.
Archer’s partner was in the shower at the beginning of the raid, according to the complaint. An armed officer stood outside her door while she finished. She then got dressed and came downstairs to view the raid in progress.
“Archer’s partner asked permission to leave for work, but the officers, at Weiss’s orders, refused, despite (the fact) that the warrant did not allow them to search or detain her and that they had no reasonably articulable suspicion that she might place them in danger,” the complaint states. “They attempted to seize her partner’s computer and cell phone despite having no authority in the warrant to seize her possessions (eventually, they gave in and did not seize these items)” (parentheses in court document).
As investigators rooted through her possessions, including items that had nothing to do even with the broad warrant that cited statutes but was short on specifics, Weiss told Archer that he already was in possession of all of her emails, according to the complaint. It was a clear indication that there was little, if any, practical purpose beyond retaliation for a raid that spanned hours, according to Archer’s attorneys.
Chisholm’s office, the complaint alleges, took possession of, among other things, every email Archer wrote or received on her personal email account beginning at least in 2006—years before any of the actions that were alleged to involve criminal wrongdoing.
“Subsequently, these emails were released to the public and now can be obtained at will by anyone. Many are available on the internet,” the filing states. “Less than one percent—if that—of the emails are related even to the pretextual inquiries in the warrant. Defendants had no legitimate reason to seize Archer’s private correspondence.”
The invasiveness of the John Doe investigators seems to have slipped into the absurd. While questioning her, investigators asked Archer why she went to a payphone in the days before the raid, according to the filing. It was an indication that the agents had been following her. Archer told them that she had not been to a payphone; she had gone to an air pump to fill her wheelbarrow tire.
“Any concern Defendants may have had regarding Archer’s conduct could have been resolved with simple phone call or informal interview, which would have revealed that no criminal activity occurred,” the complaint states.
Indeed, Archer, like Walker and the many, many conservatives targeted in the lengthy probe were never charged with any wrongdoing.
Before investigators took her phone, Archer asked if she could get her brother’s phone number from her contacts list, the complaint states. Weiss said no.
“He told Archer to lie to her phone company to obtain a ‘loaner’ phone or to forward calls,” the document alleges. “Archer’s brother would fly to Madison from Texas the next day, and they were unable to contact each other to arrange a rendezvous.”
In the coming months, the John Doe investigators would secretly interrogate Archer seven different times. She was offered immunity but it “became clear that, unless she told (the investigators) what they wanted to hear – i.e., unless she provided incriminating evidence against Walker and his other associates – they would continue to threaten her with prosecution.”
None of the interrogations was conducted before a judge or in court, according to the complaint. Archer was never brought before a judge at any time during the probe.
Archer was forced to hire legal counsel, which cost her more than $20,000, the court documents state. She had to take out a home-equity loan to cover her legal costs.
“There should be no place in America where powerful law-enforcement officials are allowed to misuse their offices for political purposes,” Archer concludes in the Wall Street Journal piece.
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- Nobody will say what John Doe’s shadow man did, but taxpayers are paying his legal bill
- Judge denies John Doe prosecutors’ move to dismiss civil rights suit
- Civil rights expert: John Doe law is ‘un-American,’ like something from ‘Nazi Germany’
- Target: John Doe prosecutors making up campaign law as they go along
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- John Doe target says prosecutors latest move another delay tactic
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- Media coalition asks judge to open sealed John Doe documents
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- Expert: It’s as if GAB decided ‘Citizens United didn’t exist’
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- Federal judge says his order halting John Doe probe should be clear to prosecutor
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- Appeals court upholds judge’s order shutting down John Doe probe
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- John Doe I judge says he’s not responsible for John Doe II
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- Federal judge blasts John Doe prosecutors – again – as he denies records release
- Right on cue: Document dump fuels anti-Walker donation drive
- Wall Street Journal points out ‘disgrace’ of mainstream John Doe reporting
- Expert: John Doe raids raise ‘troubling’ Fourth Amendment questions
- Kelly Rindfleisch tells conservatives, ‘Don’t back down’
- Mainstream media forced to walk back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ narrative
- John Doe prosecutors engaged in premature justification, conservatives say
- Is John Doe probe a case of a mini NSA in Wisconsin?
- AG opinion means accountability board’s John Doe secrets are safe — for now
- Senator asks attorney general to compel GAB to open up its books
- GAB now playing secrets in state John Doe lawsuit
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- John Doe prosecutors engaged in war of words — lots and lots of words
- Judge denies conservatives’ request to add GAB to civil rights lawsuit
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- John Doe document blitz must have broken mainstream media’s heart
- Senator: Looks like accountability board is hiding something
- Kelly Rindfleisch appeal to test validity of John Doe digital searches
- Conservatives in John Doe battle know disclosure comes with a heavy price
- Appeals court orders release of some John Doe documents
- Taxpayers on the hook up to $25,000 for GAB’s legal maneuvers
- Overheated media erroneously bring back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ theme
- ‘Retaliation’: Docs show state prosecutors launched mini-NSA probe of WI conservatives
- John Doe prosecutors take desperate, unethical slap
- Walker ‘smoking gun’ story has tiny glaring flaw
- Wisconsin prosecutors aim to shut down conservatives
- Conservatives appeal to common sense in John Doe appeals case
- Conservatives say ‘incorrect disclosure’ of John Doe docs no ‘tiny error’
- First Amendment big guns back targets of John Doe probe
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- Another blow for Wisconsin’s restrictive campaign finance law
- Wisconsin prosecutors appeal for protection from blowback in partisan probe
- Is John Doe story colored with a bit of ‘Macbeth?’
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- Source: Wisconsin Supreme Court doesn’t want political heat of John Doe case
- Appeals court reverses John Doe injunction, but Wisconsin’s secret war far from over
- A whistleblower’s story: Taking on a ‘hyper-partisan’ district attorney
- Conservative O’Keefe seeks investigation into John Chisholm and his John Doe
- Who’s paying the bill? Report casts questions on GAB and John Doe payments
- Target of secret John Doe probe is fighting back and speaking out
- The day John Doe rushed through the door
- Rindfleisch: ‘Rape’ not too strong a word for how violated John Doe targets feel
- Conservative group asks court to stop John Doe ‘constitutional injury’
- Conservatives to appeals court: ‘You don’t know Doe’
- Armed and growing: Milwaukee County DA beefs up his ‘police force’
- Federal judge stops John Doe prosecutors from bothering conservative group
- Wisconsin Supreme Court takes another pass on John Doe case
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- Report: No district attorney will investigate District Attorney John Chisholm
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- Voters say ‘yes’ to Walker, ‘no’ to John Doe, law expert says
- Vos: There will be reforms to John Doe, GAB
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- Wisconsin’s Van Hollen says goodbye to AG post, John Doe
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- Audit: GAB has failed to follow the law
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- ‘Outside the … law’: Lawmakers call for investigation of GAB
- Attorney: GAB’s John Doe justifications don’t hold up to law
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- First Amendment expert: Wisconsin ought to be ’embarrassed’ by John Doe
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- Conservative groups ask U.S. Supreme Court to defend rights of John Doe targets
- Is John Doe special prosecutor still working with partisan DA, GAB?
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- $775,000 and rising — Wisconsin taxpayers’ bill to defend John Doe prosecutors
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- John Doe reform bill aims to break silence of abusive investigations
- Reform bill would open up the John Doe books to taxpayers
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- On Sunshine Week, GAB still operating in the dark
- Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Rindfleisch Fourth Amendment appeal
- Secretive John Doe special prosecutor who fancies a good leak screams secrecy breach
- Kelly Rindfleisch hopes to avoid becoming first John Doe political prisoner
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- Kelly Rindfleisch, Chisholm’s political prize, to begin sentence on Thursday
- U.S. Supreme Court could soon decide whether to take John Doe Case
- Did chief justice show her hand in dissenting John Doe opinion?
- New documents expose GAB’s ‘parallel’ probe expenditures
- Lawmaker: Chief justice’s civil rights complaint is ‘pathetic’
- John Doe reform bill stalls in Legislature
- Who was the reporter outside Cindy Archer’s house?
- U.S. Supreme Court to consider hearing John Doe-related case
- Experts: Chances rise that U.S. Supreme Court will take John Doe case
- Do Chisholm’s public comments on John Doe cross ethical line?
- John Chisholm’s 50 shades of ‘raid’
- Five years later: America just learning ‘tyrannical’ secrets of Wisconsin’s John Doe
- U.S. Supreme Court could announce decision on John Doe case later this month
- Wisconsin as a New Yorker cartoon of itself
- Will discovery reveal more bombshell information about ‘rogue’ GAB?
- Political prisoner Kelly Rindfleisch on home confinement, working for O’Keefe
- Warrants command John Doe targets to remain silent
- U.S. Supreme Court denies review of John Doe-related case
- Was John Chisholm John Doe distracted?
- John Doe reform bill stuck in legislative waiting game
- GAB reform stalled, new docs show GAB working closely with John Doe prosecutors
- Kelly Rindfleisch takes her Fourth Amendment fight to the U.S. Supreme Court
- What happened to Kelly Rindfleisch could happen to you
- Justice asks state Supreme Court to reconsider Rindfleisch Fourth Amendment appeal
- Justice Gableman: Warrants in Rindfleisch case amount to ‘fishing expedition’
- ‘Did they get me?’: Docs reveal long-time John Doe spying operation
- Kelly Rindfleisch: ‘I fear I will never get justice’
- Former Walker aide to file civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutor
- Cindy Archer: Chisholm’s John Doe was ‘campaign of intimidation’
- National Review: Political John Doe victimized 16-year-old boy
- GAB’s Kennedy had a friend in IRS’ Lois Lerner
- Vos: Time to ‘double down’ on GAB reform in wake of reported IRS links
- Left’s loud transparency defenders silent on secret John Doe
- The John Doe investigation might finally be over; Supreme Court to rule Thursday
- Wisconsin Supreme Court shuts down John Doe investigation
- Wisconsin Supreme Court shuts down John Doe investigation, affirms First Amendment
- Kelly Rindfleisch seeks release following death of John Doe probe
- Legal experts on right and left seek review of Rindfleisch John Doe conviction
- John Doe horror stories: ‘I felt completely helpless in my own home’
- Hillary Clinton plays victim card
- Legal expert: Abrahamson and John Doe civil rights cases like day and night
- Attorney: audio confirms traumatic John Doe raid of Cindy Archer’s home
- John Doe prosecutors open new assault on conservative targets
- John Doe prosecutors’ tape of raid raises questions about missing moments
- John Doe reform bill starts to move again
- Conservatives ask Abrahamson to turn over John Doe-related records
- John Doe investigators say there are more tapes of raids
- Legal defense of rogue John Doe agents costs taxpayers nearly $1.2 million
- Explosive email exposes GAB attorney’s partisan motives in John Doe probe
- An open letter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley
- Wisconsin GAB reform bill could be ready in a few weeks, sources say
- Updated complaint shines more light on dark day in John Doe
- Partisan Falk once urged GAB to ‘get around constitutional right to free speech’
- Legislature to take up John Doe reform in October, GOP leadership says
- Knudson on GAB: ‘We need to take this thing apart’
- Did the GAB ‘illegally coordinate’ with left-leaning groups?
- John Doe prosecutors get a win, practice legal gymnastics again
- Wall Street Journal: GAB targeted conservative justices in John Doe defense
- Craig says bill to investigate GAB’s John Doe activities coming soon
- New emails show GAB assisting in John Doe defense after judge said stop
- ‘Nonpartisan’ GAB staff has partisan past
- John Doe political prisoner Kelly Rindfleisch nears end of her sentence
- Will the voices of the John Doe victims be heard?
- Supreme Court will not hear Kelly Rindfleisch’s Fourth Amendment case
- Judge orders GAB to turn over emails with liberal groups
- The silence of the left is the Dems’ transparency hypocrisy
- GAB chairman: ‘I wasn’t offended’ by John Doe raids
- Sources: Bill would overhaul controversial GAB
- GAB fighting to keep its secrets out of public eye
- GAB overhaul would eliminate blank checks on taxypayer dime
- John Doe victims to tell their stories in Fox News special
- Fiery GAB hearing invokes ghost of Joe McCarthy
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- Prosecutor plugged into ‘hotspot’ to email sensitive John Doe docs
- Judge holds off on release of GAB’s ‘very embarrassing’ records
- Craig blasts newspaper for Dem ‘press release’ coverage of John Doe bill
- Hyperbole happens as John Doe reform passes on party-line vote
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- Back to the Future: Dems walk out on vote again
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- Lawmakers want answers on GAB director Kevin Kennedy’s IRS conversations
- WSJ: Wisconsin’s political John Doe targeted national conservatives
- Target of political John Doe targets reluctant senators in robocall campaign
- Kevin Kennedy’s spin to save the GAB and his job contradicts the record
- EXCLUSIVE: Wisconsin Senate majority leader, others also targeted in John Doe
- GAB’s defense of John Doe database raises more question than answers
- Spokeswoman: Fitzgerald not ruling out extraordinary session on GAB bill
- GAB kept pushing political probe despite daunting evidence problems
- Memo to Legislature: Take a closer look at GAB Judge’s conduct
- Senate passes GAB overhaul, campaign finance reform in ‘extraordinary’ session
- Conservatives to court on GAB’s secrets: ‘Enough is enough’
- Milwaukee citizens petition Walker to remove DA John Chisholm from office
- Rogue GAB pushing strained legal arguments to keep its secrets
- GAB just about dead as final overhaul bill passes Assembly
- Speech cop, prosecutors argue for secrecy in the face of GAB extinction
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentions petition to remove Milwaukee DA — finally
- Taxpayers on hook for at least $187,000 to defend rogue GAB
- Court filing shows GAB’s Kennedy asking Lois Lerner if IRS ‘would be interested’
- Lawmaker asking GAB to open its John Doe records
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- John Doe victims still in legal limbo four months after Supreme Court ruling
- John Doe political prisoner Kelly Rindfleisch completes probation
- Lawmaker advises GAB’s Kevin Kennedy to ‘obey the law’
- Walker yet to sign GAB overhaul bill
- Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule on motion to reconsider John Doe ruling
- Wisconsin Supreme Court reaffirms John Doe is dead
- John Doe prosecutor gets no respect from targets he intimidated for years
- Former John Doe special prosecutor has little chance before high court
- Political speech ‘watchdogs’ urge continuation of illegal John Doe
- Attorney General: End John Doe case now
- Attorney General: John Chisholm broke campaign finance law
- Milwaukee County Board signals support to fight for illegal John Doe
- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s selective outrage on transparency
- District attorneys want out of political John Doe business
- Did DA who launched political John Doe probe break campaign finance laws?
- With Walker’s signature, the GAB is dead
- Conservatives, transparency win! GAB settles lawsuit, agrees to open up its secrets
- O’Keefe to Chisholm: Go ahead, make my day
- Bill creates legislative committee to investigate John Doe investigations
- Chisholm quietly returns illegal campaign contribution
- John Doe target: ‘Where and when does this abuse end?’
- ‘Good government’ group that celebrated Lois Lerner mourns for GAB
- Falk blasts incompetence of GAB, prosecutors in John Doe, emails show
- Defense attorney: Liberal John Doe cheerleaders beware
- Bad Santa: John Doe prosecutor delivers letters to the people he spied on
- Craig asks attorney general to compel GAB to open up John Doe records
- Former John Doe prosecutor not in compliance with court order
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- John Doe prosecutors ‘just playing games,’ says Cindy Archer’s attorney
- Supreme Court says no to John Doe prosecutors; Abrahamson lashes out
- Mainstream media displays selective principles on open records
- John Doe targets tell Supreme Court that prosecutor is not complying with order
- Schimel says decision coming soon on open records complaint against GAB
- Walker’s office won’t open hearing into Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm
- Petitioner against John Chisholm: Walker’s office dropped the ball
- Chisholm’s use of big guns in John Doe fight raises legal questions
- Lawmaker takes one more try at records request with reluctant GAB
- Schimel says John Doe prosecutors have no right to illegally obtained ‘evidence’
- GAB’s John Doe secrets could soon be released to the public
- John Doe targets: Chisholm has no right to share illegally seized ‘evidence’
- Conservatives: Attorney General alone has authority over John Doe petition
- AG Brad Schimel on John Doe authority question: It’s complicated
- Court denies DAs’ motion to open up John Doe records to private attorneys
- Chisholm’s unaccountable defense: ‘The records do not exist’
- Unsealed John Doe documents show view from Chisholm’s world
- Did John Doe cost Larry Nelson an election?
- Schimel: John Doe investigators living in ‘Alice in Wonderland world’
- First John Doe documents released from lawsuit show GAB’s partisan motives
- Vos names commissioners, end of GAB inches closer
- Will Senate take up Assembly amendment watering down John Doe reforms?
- Important court days coming soon to John Doe Land
- John Doe freedom fighter wins big victory against the IRS
- Oral arguments set in John Doe civil rights lawsuit
- Attorney to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter: ‘Your article is ridiculous’
- Judge Lynn Adelman on John Doe records custody: ‘I don’t care about the law’
- Documents raise questions about John Doe judge’s review of warrant
- Bruce Murphy: When journalists (don’t) attack
- New docs show GAB spent more than 2,500 hours on John Doe probe
- Chisholm invokes his illegal John Doe probe in re-election campaign
- Haas’ emails in GAB’s John Doe probe should give senators pause
- Liberal judge dismisses civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors
- John Doe victims stuck with GAB retread until at least January
- Mark Gundrum, architect of John Doe-driving GAB, could be next Supreme Court justice
- Before lamenting the end of the GAB, read this
- A year after Supreme Court pronounces John Doe dead, conservatives still waiting for justice
- Free-market group sues John Doe ‘ringleaders’ for violating federal law
- Cindy Archer appeals John Doe civil rights lawsuit to 7th Circuit
- Constitutional law experts come to defense of conservatives targeted in John Doe probes
- Schimel opposes John Doe prosecutors’ petition before U.S. Supreme Court
- Wall Street Journal: Hold John Doe prosecutors accountable
- Where was Russ Feingold’s defense of civil liberties in abusive John Doe probe?
- John Chisholm, the Captain Ahab of prosecutors, wants another shot at John Doe
- Fitzgerald: GAB’s Michael Haas not long for new administrator role
- Craig renews call for legislative investigation into John Doe investigators
- Different day, same old tired and faulty John Doe narrative by mainstream players
- More evidence points to prosecutors, investigators as source of John Doe leaks
- Schimel still weighing options on John Doe leaks
- John Doe dies again: Supreme Court won’t hear Chisholm’s case
- On John Doe: ‘People shouldn’t face jail time for speaking out on the issues’
- Attorney says conservatives still waiting for justice in John Doe saga
- Conservatives seek return of possessions, criminal probe of John Doe leaks
- Under fire, John Doe prosecutors now seek secrecy
- Former John Doe prosecutor continues to practice delay, attorney says
- Document suggests prosecutors leaked sealed John Doe records to Guardian
- Federal judge scolds John Doe prosecutors for ’emergency motion’
- Rep. Dave Craig: Time has come to investigate John Doe investigators
- Supreme Court won’t investigate John Doe leaks
- John Doe civil rights lawsuit about to heat up
- AG says grand jury likely to probe John Doe leaks
- Attorney General calls for investigation into John Doe leaks
- Joe Doe lawsuit seeks to answer whether prosecutors have boundless immunity
- An open letter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court from a John Doe victim
- Latest document dump reminder of how abusive Wisconsin’s John Doe probe was
- John Doe probe will never be over for furious Democrats
- Does prosecutorial immunity trump justice in John Doe-related lawsuit?
- Attorney general’s office remains silent on John Doe leak probe
- Seized documents could raise legal questions for John Doe special prosecutor, GAB