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Walker’s Manufactured Rules to Stifle Solidarity Singalong Will Face Day in Court

photo credit: Jenna Pope

photo credit: Jenna Pope

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s crackdown against serial democracy-loving croon session The Solidarity Singalong will have its day in court after a judicial panel ruled that the lawyer for one of the singers has the right to “civil discovery.” With the ruling, which still may be appealed, those who have implemented the crackdown on free speech will now have to provide testimony explaining their methods.  

Among the officials on the hot-seat-to-be are Capitol Police Chief David Erwin, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch and Capitol Police officers. The Isthmus Daily Page provides background:

The three-judge panel ruled Dec. 19 that attorney Jim Murray has the right to “civil discovery” in his defense of Anica Bausch, who was cited in October 2012 for participating in the Solidarity Sing Along without a permit. That means Murray can request documents, video, interrogatories and depositions from relevant sources.

Murray is eager to depose higher-ranking state officials who he says have the “burden to justify restrictions on speech in a public forum.” That’s an issue, Murray adds, “that’s never been squarely addressed.”

Murray says participants of the Solidarity Sing Along gathered at the Capitol for 18 months without incident until Gov. Scott Walker’s administration put in place emergency rules and started ticketing people for permit infractions. Members of the Solidarity Sing Along gather at noon at the Capitol on weekdays to protest Walker’s policies.

Murray says the state needs to justify what conditions created this alleged “crisis.” “Where is the emergency all of a sudden?”

The state could appeal the decision.  However, lawyer Jim Murray suggests it is unlikely the Department of Justice would want to take the case to the Supreme Court given that they would there have to argue against their own legal advice.

There’s a chance the state Supreme Court would also step in with a ruling before the trial is finished, but Murray thinks it’s unlikely.

Moreover, says Murray, the DOJ would be arguing against its own legal advice if it appealed to the Supreme Court. A 1988 opinion issued by the Attorney General’s Office states that state law allows civil discovery in forfeiture cases. (A forfeiture action involves a penalty that is a fine.)

“I think it would be rather difficult for the Supreme Court to get judicially active and say the statutes do not mean what they say in this particular case.”


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