Stopping the stoppage: Federal appeals court puts hold on judge’s John Doe ruling

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A secret investigation into Governor Scott Walker's campaign is stopped by a federal judge. But now, we've learned a federal appeals court has put a hold on the judge's ruling that delivered a major victory to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The ruling Tuesday, May 6th halted a secret investigation into Walker's 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him.

"On this, on Act 10, anything else -- I'm used to things being in the court quite a bit, which is why I don't get too excited one way or another," Gov. Walker said early Wednesday afternoon.

As it turned out, Gov. Walker had reason to be cautious.

Prosecutors appealed Tuesday's ruling on Wednesday morning, May 7th -- and less than eight hours later, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago granted a stay.

That means prosecutors do not have to destroy their evidence, and the John Doe case remains technically active.

The appeals court says U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee, who issued Tuesday's ruling, should not have entered the preliminary injunction because the prosecutors had filed an appeal of an earlier decision that they were not immune from being sued.

The case against prosecutors was brought by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth.

The John Doe investigation has shadowed Walker as he runs for re-election and eyes a run for president.

This John Doe investigation is the second John Doe involving Gov. Scott Walker.

This John Doe stems from the contentious 2012 recall election.

In this secret John Doe investigation, prosecutors were exploring whether Gov. Walker's campaign broke the law by coordinating with outside groups.

In a 26-page decision handed down on Tuesday, federal judge Rudolph Randa ordered prosecutors to:

  • Cease all activities related to the investigation
  • Return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization
  • Permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation

Conservative critics have attacked the John Doe investigation as a political witch hunt.

Judge Randa agreed, writing: "The plaintiffs have been shut out of the political process merely by association with conservative politicians."

Judge Randa said: "This cannot square with the First Amendment and what it was meant to protect."

Here are the two most important documents related to this case:

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