Investigators have asked a federal judge to overrule a state Supreme Court order that they turn over evidence from their secret criminal investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign. Should U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman grant the request, it would set up a high-level clash between state and federal courts, perhaps giving the U.S. Supreme Court another reason to intervene, according to a former state Supreme Court justice. “The (Wisconsin) Supreme Court has created a hornets’ nest over this evidence and I don’t know how they get themselves out of it,” former Justice Janine Geske said in an interview Monday. “I suspect there are going to be some justices at the U.S. Supreme Court who say, ‘We’ve got to look at what’s going on in Wisconsin.’ ”
In July, the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority halted the so-called John Doe II probe into the Republican governor’s recall campaign. That probe was based on evidence collected in a previous John Doe investigation into Walker’s Milwaukee County office. At the same time, the court ordered the evidence from both cases be returned or destroyed. Then on Dec. 2 the court changed its order, allowing the evidence be preserved under its authority for possible use in related litigation.
The decision also removed special prosecutor Francis Schmitz as the lead investigator in John Doe II, challenging his ability to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, three of the five district attorneys initially involved in the case — Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson, all Democrats — filed to intervene. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has yet to rule on that motion.