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Attorney General Van Hollen Supports John Doe Reform, But Offers An Alternative That Saves Resources, Restores The Impartiality Of Justice, And Provides Greater Protections To State Workers


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen submitted testimony today to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing supporting John Doe reform, but proposing an alternative that he said would:


  • Provide more protection to state employees
  • Save state and local taxpayer-funded resources
  • Restore proper notions of separation of powers; and
  • Enhance judicial impartiality in criminal proceedings


Van Hollen's testimony criticized the existing John Doe statute, which allows inmates to initiate criminal inquest proceedings without district attorney involvement and allows judges to issue criminal complaints.


Asking the committee to adopt his proposal, Van Hollen wrote, "Would you want a prosecutor to file charges and then sit in judgment of those charged? I am sure your answer is no. We should not permit judges to do so either. Would you want unaccountable individualsincluding those incarceratedto expend and consume state resources to exercise the awesome power of the criminal justice system to investigate crime, possibly even in secret? I expect your answer is also no."


Advocating his proposal over the proposed legislation (2009 SB 51), Van Hollen wrote, "In these tight fiscal times, it is all the more imperative to reform bad law in a way that saves taxpayer money and more thoroughly solves the problems existing law creates. My proposal will do that."


A copy of the Attorney General's testimony, along with his proposal, is attached.