An open letter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court from a John Doe victim

M.D. Kittle
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 4:21 PM
An open letter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court from a John Doe victim
Part 382 of 381 in the series Wisconsin's Secret War

MADISON, Wis. — On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, “on its own motion,” announced it will release previously sealed documents from the state’s unconstitutional John Doe II investigation.

The documents are expected to be released into the public file on Monday.

Deborah Jordahl, a conservative political consultant among many targeted in the politically driven probe, said she and her attorneys were blindsided by the court’s decision.

Jordahl said she wants the Supreme Court justices to know they have victimized innocent citizens all over again.

This is her open letter to the court.

Dear Wisconsin Supreme Court,

Some of you may know me as Unnamed Petitioner Number 7, but despite the impersonal nature of my title, I assure you I am a real person. A person with a husband, two children, and a small business and reputation I have worked very hard to establish. Like most citizens, I have never been charged or convicted of breaking any law.

photo contributed

NAMED PETITIONER: Deborah Jordahl, hounded in Wisconsin’s infamous ‘John Doe II’ investigation, says targets are being victimized again – this time by the court that declared the investigation unconstitutional.

Unlike most citizens, my family, my colleagues and I were subjected to the secret seizure of our phone, bank, tax and email records, armed pre-dawn raids of our homes, an unconstitutional gag order, vicious and unfounded accusations by prosecutors and the “accidental” release of private, illegally seized documents by a federal court. More recently we were subjected to the premeditated, illegal disclosure of additional documents to the press.

We were dragged through more than three years of extremely stressful, time consuming litigation resulting in several million dollars in legal bills. And even though we won in every court along the way, we still do not know the extent of the private property that was secretly seized directly from our banks, accountants, and Internet and phone providers. We have not had an opportunity to inspect that property and none of it has been returned to us.

We have done our best to move on with our lives. We recognize that the government officials who, as this court said, “Instigated a perfect storm of wrongs,” on people who are “wholly innocent of any wrongdoing,” will never be held accountable for their illegal and abusive behavior. This is extremely troubling, not because we want revenge, but because it sends a message to other prosecutors, investigators and judges that they can abuse their power with impunity.

Late last year, we asked this court for relief with regard to the return of our property, but after the illegally appointed Special Prosecutor in our case claimed to have returned to the court all of the property he had seized from our homes and our vendors, this court essentially told us that the case was over and we should go away and leave them alone.

So imagine my surprise at 5:15 on Friday evening when a reporter informed me that this court would release a cache of documents in our case, some of which we have never seen, first thing Monday morning. I was even more surprised to learn that none of our lawyers were on the distribution list to receive the court order.

Following are the relevant facts as I see them:

  1. The court acted “on its own motion,” which is to say no one asked it to do anything and we could not possibly have anticipated a ruling on anything.
  2. In acting on its own motion, the court did not seek the view of the parties on that “motion;” it simply granted its own motion without notice to the parties.
  3. The court dropped the order late on a Friday afternoon, just after our new President was sworn into office.
  4. The court directed its press officer to email the order to a long list of media outlets, but did not direct its clerk to email or fax the order to counsel for any of the parties. So the parties affected had to read about it in the newspaper and their lawyers will likely receive the order by U.S. Mail, on Monday or Tuesday. Later for those located outside of Wisconsin.
  5. In granting its own motion, the court specifically decided without input from the parties what redactions to make or not to make.
  6. The court order says it will release some documents that include no redactions because the parties opted not to make redactions by a court imposed deadline. This is of great concern because there are many documents in the court’s possession, some of which are listed for release, that the parties have never seen or had an opportunity to redact. That is in part because the court allowed the Special Prosecutor to file two volumes of exhibits under seal without serving them on our lawyers.
  7. The documents for release will be placed into the public file by a court commissioner or clerk who has no realistic fear of being fired or in any way held accountable for an inadvertent or accidental disclosure. This observation and concern is not based on paranoia or a lack of respect. It’s based on real life experience.

So I ask this court, what could possibly go wrong, and do any of you even care?

When you ruled in this case, you seemed to understand that we are real people whose lives were turned upside down by government officials you determined had no statutory or constitutional right to seize our property in the first place. So why did you decide the press should have access to documents before we do, or at all, when those documents were illegally taken from us?

Perhaps you believe there are limits to an individual’s right to privacy, due process and freedom of speech, even when they have committed no crime.

Perhaps you are more concerned with what the press will say about you if you don’t give them at least some of what they want. Regardless of your beliefs and motives, there is simply no way to spin the fact that the court willfully blind-sided us with a Friday night order we did not receive. If mistakes are made in the release of these files because we had no time or opportunity to review them, there will be no way to undo the additional damage to real people who have already endured so much.

Deborah Hawley Jordahl is a conservative strategist and consultant with 25 years experience in coalition building, issue mobilization and fundraising for a variety of political, nonprofit and corporate organizations.