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GOP Lawmaker Wants To Reform State’s John Doe Laws

Tiffany Says Bill Will Create Better Transparency

Wisconsin Supreme Court interior
Rough Tough, Real Stuff (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Republican state legislators are backing a bill in the state Legislature that revamps Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation law.

The bill’s author said the goal is to make the process more transparent. State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court ending the John Doe investigation into alleged campaign finance law violations makes it clear it’s time to reform the system. He said the bill calls for restricting the use of gag orders on people who are under investigation.

“For people that read the Supreme Court decision, it’s very evident that it’s taking away a person’s First Amendment right to be able to speak about a particular situation,” Tiffany said.

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If approved, the bill would make John Doe investigations more like federal grand jury probes that bar the use of gag orders. Another proposed change would impose a six-month time limit on investigations after which a prosecutor would have to get approval from a panel of 10 chief judges to continue.