Breaking: 7th Circuit Issues Stay in Wisconsin John Doe Case

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, you can find the unanimous order of a three judge 7th Circuit panel (Wood, Bauer and Easterbrook) at this link.  [My earlier thoughts on the importance of the district court’s ruling for campaign finance law is here.]

I am completely unsurprised by this stay order, once I heard (a) that the judge well may have been acting in excess of his jurisdiction; and (b) the judge order the destruction of evidence while the case was up on a preliminary injunction. Here’s what the appellate court wrote:

Whether or not the district court determines that the appeal is frivolous, the portions of the injunction that require defendants to return or destroy documents will remain stayed as long as proceedings continue in this court. Compliance with those portions of the injunction could moot some or all of the issues on appeal. Whether or not any pre-injunction order is appealable, the preliminary injunction is itself open to appeal under 28 U.S.C. §1292(a). It would be inappropriate to implement the injunction in a manner that effectively prevents appellate review. Plaintiffs’ interests, pending the review authorized by §1292, can be protected if defendants hold the information in confidence and not use it.

I wouldn’t read too much into the overall merits of the case. But suffice it to say that when a district court pulls stuff like this, it is a big red flag in the appellate court.

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