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Prosecutors ask judge to dismiss John Doe search lawsuit

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Milwaukee prosecutors asked a federal judge Friday to dismiss a lawsuit alleging they violated one of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s former aide’s civil rights when they had police search her home nearly four years ago.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched a John Doe probe in 2010 looking into activities of Walker’s former aides and associates when he was Milwaukee County executive. Walker was never charged, although six of his aides and associates were convicted on a variety of counts, including two for doing illegal campaign work before the probe ended in 2013.

Cindy Archer worked for Walker in the county office and as deputy secretary of the state Department of Administration after he became governor before joining the state public defender’s office. She wasn’t charged in the investigation. But she filed a federal lawsuit in Milwaukee in July against Chisholm, two assistant prosecutors and two of Chisholm’s investigators alleging police violated her rights when they searched her home in September 2011 as they were gathering evidence in the probe.

Archer argued the search was politically motivated because she helped Walker draft his law stripping most public employees of their union rights, the search warrant was overly broad and officers detained her in her home for hours of questioning without reading Miranda rights.

Chisholm and his assistant prosecutors, Bruce Landgraf and David Robles, filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman on Friday asking him to rule in their favor. They argued they enjoy professional immunity from liability, she has failed to show any kind of conspiracy and she has failed to show how the prosecutors could be held personally responsible for how the search was conducted.

They went on to contend that the search warrant listed particulars and even if she wasn’t read her rights none of her statements were ever used against her in any criminal proceedings, noting she was never arrested, indicted or charged.

Archer’s attorneys didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Friday.

An audio recording police made of the search unsealed as part of the lawsuit contradicts Archer’s description of the incident. Officers can be heard reading her Miranda rights and engaging in small talk with her. Investigators told her they were following the same procedure that they use in all such raids.

Archer’s attorneys have said the recording confirms the search was traumatic for Archer.

Even though Walker, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, was never charged, the warrant shows investigators believed he committed a felony. They wrote in the warrant that they believed Walker, longtime Walker friend and campaign treasurer John Hiller and real estate broker Andrew Jensen committed felony misconduct in office in relation to the negotiation of a lease to house the county’s Department of Aging.

The probe gave rise to a second John Doe investigation into whether Walker’s 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups. The conservative-leaning state Supreme Court halted that investigation in July, saying the campaign and the groups did nothing wrong.

John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations where prosecutors can compel testimony and proceedings are kept secret.

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