This position was strengthened when Jeff Simpson pointed out that the wife of Steven Biskupic, the attorney representing Scott Walker's campaign through the proceedings, worked for Randa. How this was even allowed needs to be examined by higher authorities, with strong consideration given to whether Randa is even fit to remain on the bench.
And if the gentle reader still had any doubts - after all, Jeff and I are only bloggers, what do we know? - Attorney Mike Maistelman, the state's leading expert on campaign finance law, appeared on the radio show "Devil's Advocate" and confirmed everything I had said.
Maistelman also pointed to another area that raises many a red flag. According to Maistelman, Randa had twice scheduled sessions to hear the motions related to the case but cancelled both sessions. Then without hearing the arguments, Randa issued his arbitrary decision.
Maistelman also raised concerns about the part of Randa's order that the prosecutors had to return all the evidence they had seized and destroy any copies they had made.
But as the saying goes, what a difference a day makes.
The prosecutors filed an emergency appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals who immediately put a stay on Randa's orders and reprimanded him pretty severely*:
But a three-judge appeals panel in Chicago, acting on emergency motions that prosecutors had filed just before and after Randa’s ruling, found the judge failed to follow proper procedure in issuing his ruling Tuesday.Illusory Tenant**, the holding of the Seventh Circuit Court that Randa so conveniently overlooked is only 25 years old and was written by Judge Frank Easterbrook, who is still one of the judges in that court. Foley also pointed out that the ruling also removed any chance of Randa renewing his order to destroy evidence.
“Once a litigant files a notice of appeal, a district court may not take any further action in the suit unless it certifies that the appeal is frivolous,” the appeals judges wrote. “The district court failed to follow that rule when, despite the notice of appeal filed by several defendants, it entered a preliminary injunction.”
The appeals judges — Diane Wood, William Bauer and Frank Easterbrook — also nullified Randa’s order requiring the Milwaukee County prosecutors to return the evidence they had collected and “permanently destroy” all copies of it. The appeals panel said such an action “effectively prevents appellate review” and ordered that Randa’s “return-and-destroy” order be stayed pending further order of the court.
In their emergency appeal, the prosecutors also noted that the same evidence is at the heart of challenges to the probe pending in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court.
With the timing and the extraordinary aspect to Randa's ruling, one must seriously consider if Randa went beyond the scope of his authority in trying to obstruct justice. This should really be reviewed to determine if any ethical or legal lines had been crossed.
On a final note, while the right wing was celebrating Randa's ruling as the death knell for John Doe - while ignoring their self-proclaimed disdain for activist judges - the order by the Court of Appeals allows the investigation to continue. Hopefully, this might spur the prosecutors to start filing some charges in the matter.
*The actual order by the Court of Appeals can be seen here.
**Cor, we could use him back now!