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Appeals Court stays Federal Judge Rudolph Randa's John Doe order


CHICAGO, ILL. (Wisconsin Radio Network) -- Just a day after a federal judge ordered an end to a secret criminal probe into possible illegal campaign coordination and the destruction of evidence in the case, a federal appeals court moved to temporary blocked that decision.

A three judge panel for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued it’s own stay in the case late Wednesday, citing concerns that compliance with the ruling could “moot some or all of the issues on appeal in the case.” The judges also barred Federal Judge Rudolph Randa from issuing further orders while the case is being appealed.

The ruling comes after a day of intense focus of Randa’s decision, in which he found that a John Doe investigation into alleged campaign coordination between conservative groups and Republican candidates in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections violated the First Amendment rights of those groups. The judge said the group and its treasurer found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and the move should be recognized as a way to promote political speech instead of restricting it.

Randa ordered an immediate halt to the investigation and the return or destruction of all evidence gathered so far. The appeals court said prosecutors can keep the evidence for now, as long as they “hold the information in confidence and not use it.”