Investigators who participated in probes into possible wrongdoing in Gov. Scott Walker's campaign ripped State Attorney General Brad Schimel for accepting help from lawyers suing them as he prepared a friend of the court brief in the lawyers' case.
The investigators allege that Schimel is "unfit to be amicus curiae," or friend of the court. An amicus curiae offers information to the court in a case, but is not a plaintiff or defendant.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that attorneys suing Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and investigators outlined in writing for Schimel and his team how to approach their effort to make it difficult for Chisholm to have access to material seized during the Walker investigation.
Samuel J. Leib, an attorney for the investigators, cited the story in his court filing sharply critical of Schimel and attorney Andrew Grossman, who works at the firm representing former Walker aide Cindy Archer in her lawsuit against Chisholm and the investigators. Archer is alleging Chisholm ran a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Walker supporters.
"The conduct of both Attorney Grossman and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office is exceptionally inappropriate," Leib wrote. "The Seventh Circuit has condemned actions such as these in the past, admonishing practitioners that '[t]he term ‘amicus curiae’ means friend of the court, not friend of a party.'"
When Schimel first sought permission to file an amicus brief, the investigators did not object, said Leib, who represents David Budde, Robert Stelter, and Aaron Weiss.
His clients, however, "advised the Court that the Attorney General was not being forthright about his office’s long-documented conflicts of interest relating to the John Doe proceedings," Leib said. "They also advised the Court that the arguments advanced by the Attorney General were largely duplicative of the ones already raised by the plaintiff. Obviously, amici curiae are expected to be transparent about their interests and are discouraged from simply parroting a party’s position."
The investigators' concerns "understated the extent to which the Attorney General is unfit to be amicus curiae...Plaintiff’s counsel was actively feeding the arguments to the Attorney General so that he could regurgitate them under the imprimatur of the State of Wisconsin. This misconduct should not be tolerated."
The investigators reserve their right to ask U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman to reconsider admission of Schimel's friend of the court brief, Leib wrote. "Simply put, the Attorney General should not have the privilege to be heard in this case," he said.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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