Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Less to leaks than is claimed

As a legal matter, the information concerning "leaks" in papers filed by the District Attorney's office in response to certain motions made by Tim Russell are interesting, but not all that illuminating. (I express no opinion on the merits of the legal issue which the DA was addressing to which, strictly speaking, the issue of these leaks may not be all that pertinent.)

The most interesting is an e-mail from one of Russell's attorneys to talk show host Charlie Sykes from Michael Maistelman, one of Russell's attorneys. The e-mail says that he has "heard" that charges are about to be filed against Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch. Does this show that Maistelman was a source of improper leaks concerning the John Doe?

In a word, no.

Maistelman, as an attorney for another defendant, was presumably uninvolved in the decision to charge Rindfleisch and Wink. He apparently "heard" about the pending charges from someone else. (Indeed, he has said that the e-mail was based on "gossip.')

This would make him a recipient of a leak - not its source.  There is no evidence that that he was under any legal obligation not to pass it along. Who the initial source was - and whether there was a leak that violated a secrecy order - remains unknown. And that is the more critical question.

Nor does the e-mail establish that Sykes was being “hypocritical” for complaining of leaks from the Doe. To the contrary, it substantiated his complaints, even as it did not reveal the original source.

The September 26, 2010 e-mail from John Hiller to then County Executive Walker is no more illuminating. Apparently Hiller found out that Dan Bice was writing a story, talked with him about the story and reported on the conversation to Walker. In the course of the e-mail, Hiller says that Bice told him that he got "much" of his "information" from one of Darlene Wink's attorneys who send him an e-mail defending her. But what that "information" was and whether revealing it would have violated a secrecy order is not revealed. (Indeed, if the lawyer had breached secrecy, he would have almost certainly asked Bice for confidentiality which he obviously did not. If he had, Bice would hardly have identified him to Hiller.)

Nor does the e-mail establish, as at least one blogger has maintained, that Walker "knew" what was going on in the John Doe. It establishes that Walker knew a reporter was about to write a story.

Finally, the e-mails discuss a small portion of what has leaked from the Doe. They do not establish anything approaching a conclusion that the "defense attorneys" did it. I don't know who the source of these leaks were and neither does anyone else based on what is in the public record.

Of course, these details will be ignored by partisans in their rush to place "blame" for the leaks and advance whatever other speculation and innuendo meets today's political agenda.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin

1 comment:

George Mitchell said...

The Journal Sentinel is in a position that journalists once disliked. It is covering itself. Dan Bice, Steve Schultze, and others can selectively report leaks and then, with a straight face, write the kind of stuff Schultze did yesterday. To prove my neutrality, I continue to recommend they submit it all for an award.