September 9, 2010
STATEMENT ON JOHN DOE LAW INTERPRETATION IN APPEALS COURT
(MADISON) Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) issued the followed statement on the Court of Appeals, District IV, rulings in the Naseer v. Miller and Naseer v. Grant cases regarding judicial review in John Doe cases.
“Today the Appeals Court in Wisconsin remade a key provision of the John Doe laws contrary to the legislative intent expressed in 2009 Wisconsin Act 24. As a legislator who spent significant time in two sessions crafting Act 24 and maneuvering through the legislation through committee, I am deeply concerned by this ruling.”
“The Legislative Reference Bureau analysis of the bill (then 2009 Senate Bill 51), the Legislative Council Act memo on Act 24, and the author’s intent expressed in testimony, all clearly point to a mandatory referral of the John Doe complaint to the District Attorney by the judge. The word ‘must’ or ‘requires’, which are unambiguous in meaning, appears in each of these items. There was no doubt of this intent in the Legislature as evidenced by overwhelming approval of the measure by both houses.”
“It is of the utmost importance to adhere to the intent of this law, namely that District Attorneys will review these potential criminal cases. The clear intent of the act applies judicial discretion and review of the allegation, only following a review by the District Attorney, and only if the District Attorney declines to act on the matter. If this intent is not upheld by the Supreme Court, I will seek a clear legislative remedy to ensure that this intent is codified.”
Taylor serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing; as co-chair of the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties; and chair of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice Funding and Strategies.