Attention now shifts to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The prosecutors told that court Wednesday that Randa’s order to permanently destroy the documents they had gathered was inappropriate because it was only a preliminary ruling. Destroying that evidence “cannot be undone” if they are ultimately allowed to continue their investigation, they argued….
In their latest filing, they contended Randa did not have the ability to issue Tuesday’s decision because of their earlier appeals.
“The order was issued without jurisdiction and is void for that reason,” they wrote.
They noted Randa issued his decision without holding a hearing. He had twice scheduled hearings, only to cancel them.
“The district court denied defendants an opportunity to either present evidence or argue the law,” the prosecutors wrote.
Randa has been reversed by the federal appeals court in another past criminal case with strong political overtones.
In April 2007, the appeals court ruled that state purchasing supervisor Georgia L. Thompson was wrongly convicted of making sure a state travel contract went to a firm linked to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s re-election campaign.
In that case, in which Randa sentenced Thompson to 18 months in prison, one appellate judge called the evidence used to convict Thompson “beyond thin.”
In his decision Tuesday, Randa ordered an immediate halt to the investigation, the return of all property seized during it, and the destruction of any information and materials gained in the investigation. He told the Wisconsin Club for Growth it did not need to cooperate with prosecutors in any way.
Special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, who was leading the investigation, said late Tuesday he expects to challenge the decision by appealing to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
“I’m virtually assured we will appeal this decision,” Schmitz said. “I have to consult with the others and my attorney” before making a final decision.