Report: No evidence files deleted in bad faith in redistricting case

2013-05-16T05:30:00Z Report: No evidence files deleted in bad faith in redistricting caseDEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132 madison.com

The plaintiffs in a case that challenged Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting agreed Wednesday to drop an effort to determine why Republicans failed to turn over records to them after finding no evidence of malicious intent.

In a report to a three-judge panel, the two sides in the litigation said they found no solid proof the thousands of files deleted from state computers were removed with bad intent nor that turning those files over to plaintiffs would have changed the outcome of a federal case challenging Wisconsin’s redistricting.

The report filed Wednesday sought to assess why records were not properly turned over to plaintiffs challenging the secretive process in which Wisconsin Republican leaders redrew state legislative and congressional districts following the 2010 census.

“Compliance with the plaintiffs’ subpoenas, and the court’s orders regarding them, by the Legislature, its employees, consultants and counsel was not complete,” according to the report, filed jointly by attorneys for both sides.

“Whether such incompleteness was the result of inadvertence or ineptitude or otherwise cannot be determined.”

The report was part of a post-trial effort to investigate why the state failed to turn over records that were court-ordered to be given to the plaintiffs, who include Democratic lawmakers, individuals and the Milwaukee group Voces de la Frontera. The case is being handled in the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee.

Wednesday’s filing includes hundreds of pages of depositions taken of legislative aides Tad Ottman and Adam Foltz and of Joe Handrick, a former lawmaker who worked on redistricting on behalf of Republicans.

Computers used in the redistricting were for a time located at the Michael Best and Friedrich law firm in Madison.

Asked if he had removed any files from his state computer housed at the law firm, Handrick replied, “I never deleted anything from that computer.”

In an earlier report, the plaintiffs said a forensic examination found that legislative aides appeared to have deleted “hundreds of thousands” of files at “suspicious times” from state computers.

But after further examination and sworn statements from Ottman, Foltz and Handrick, the report concluded, “No direct or clear and convincing evidence has come to light to date showing ... that such non-production was the result of intentional, deliberate or contumacious disregard of the subpoenas or the court’s orders by anyone.”

The main case was resolved last year with only minor changes to two legislative districts in the Milwaukee area to protect the rights of Hispanic voters. And now the post-trial wrangling may be over.

Madison attorney Douglas Poland told the judges Wednesday that the plaintiffs’ settlement agreement with Michael Best and Friedrich “resolves the issues before this court.”

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(39) Comments

  1. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - May 16, 2013 2:36 pm
    Good thing they didn't audit the email deleting techniques perfected by the Climate Criminals like Briffa, Trenberth, Mann, Jones, Schmidt, & Hansen, etc.

    The taxpayer-funded AND OWNED information contained in those files disappeared just before the FOIA requests; what superb timing!

    No bad faith there, merely CYA from federal offenses including conspiracy and federal grant fraud to ensure survival and a continuation of the funding gravy train.

    The Gotch
  2. Mr Warmth
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    Mr Warmth - May 16, 2013 1:35 pm
    Too bad the Democrats hired the same layers who represent WMC and other right wing third party groups to represent them in the redistricting case. To bad chumps, you lose again. And the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank as they take money from both sides.
  3. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - May 16, 2013 1:24 pm
    Most of the time, when you "delete files", all you're really doing is erasing the REFERENCE to those files in the computer's directory. That's fast and easy. But, using that technique, the files themselves are still sitting there, just with nothing pointing to them, so anyone with sufficient computer skill can still go in and find them and reconstruct them.

    Or you could use the extra-special method of erasing which causes the files themselves to be overwritten with all "0"s. This requires a conscious choice up front and takes considerably longer. Hardly anybody does this unless they're dealing with sensitive information (personally identifiable medical or student records, say) or trying to cover something up (like child pornography or political corruption).
  4. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - May 16, 2013 1:19 pm
    The Democrats had most of the decade of the oh-ohs to get the job done, but they consistently ignored it.

    Still, there's an ethical difference between failing to do something right (Dems) and actively doing something wrong (GOP).
  5. Fur94
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    Fur94 - May 16, 2013 11:33 am
    I recall a story a few months ago that the computers had a special program installed to fully delete files. It was implied that the program wasn't part of legislative software packages. Did the report mentioned in this story have any information about that? It's a little hard to believe that someone that deletes a file out of "inadvertence or ineptitude" would need to install a special program to do so.
  6. witness2012
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    witness2012 - May 16, 2013 11:12 am
    Process matters, Powmda. Your party may be in the majority right now, but they won't always be. Then, you'll get that how things are done matters as much as what is done.
  7. Bluezee
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    Bluezee - May 16, 2013 11:07 am
    Um they did delete the evidence. It is just absolutely impossible to prove their intentions due to the fact they deleted the evidence.
  8. Bluezee
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    Bluezee - May 16, 2013 11:01 am
    yes the files (evidence) were deleted. Great job getting away with it guys. Note to criminals destroy all evidence with the good intention of not getting caught.
  9. Beingbucky
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    Beingbucky - May 16, 2013 10:43 am
    I wasn't suggesting that files were deleted. They were deleted, thousands of them.The part that they gave up on trying to prove was the bad faith part. It is that hard to distinguish bad faith from everyday Republican ineptitude and lawlessness I guess.
  10. Traderjoe
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    Traderjoe - May 16, 2013 10:14 am
    Chillax......If you'll notice the uppercase EVIDENCE. That it what I was trying to highlight not, the deletion. Bucky was suggesting that subpoenaed records were deleted, and I was trying to point out that there was no EVIDENCE to prove that. Those are the facts of the case. How long have you been waiting to use that MJ reference anyway ?
  11. MSR5
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    MSR5 - May 16, 2013 10:06 am
    The question is, why were any files deleted? The people doing the redistricting, i.e. senators, and the attorneys involved work for me, the tax payer. I am the client not the senators. I should have full access to all of the proceedings.

    As the report says the legislature did not comply with the order to produce the files.

    "Compliance with the plaintiffs’ subpoenas, and the court’s orders regarding them, by the Legislature, its employees, consultants and counsel was not complete,” according to the report, filed jointly by attorneys for both sides.

    “Whether such incompleteness was the result of inadvertence or ineptitude or otherwise cannot be determined.” "

  12. athabasca
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    athabasca - May 16, 2013 9:35 am
    @Traderjoe -- Re-read the headline yourself, please.

    The headline says "No evidence files deleted IN BAD FAITH".

    No one is saying that the files were not deleted -- they were. Nobody is even saying that the files weren't deleted on suspicious days -- that happened too. But nobody is admitting to doing it, and intent is very hard to prove.

    For example, I can't prove that you were acting in bad faith by omitting the words "IN BAD FAITH". But I can sure believe it.
  13. human
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    human - May 16, 2013 9:21 am
    So Menominee county and Milwaukee County would have the same number of legislators? Really?
  14. human
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    human - May 16, 2013 9:20 am
    I agree that Democrats should have enacted redistricting reform when they had the chance, but I don't think the reforms would have made any difference. Republicans didn't just divide the state into gerrymandered districts; they also re-wrote the process for creating those districts.

    For the last few decades, the redistricting process started with localities drawing up local ward lines; then the Legislature put wards together create legislative and Congressional districts. The Republicans dropped that process because it was too slow (and because it limited their ability to draw lines around possible Democratic opponents); instead, they outsourced the job to a Republican law firm and left localities to pick up the pieces afterwards.

    If Democrats had created a non-partisan redistricting board, the Republicans would have abolished the board in April of 2011. It would not have made a difference. We need a Constitutional amendment to change redistricting, and the Democrats didn't have time for that, even if they wanted to.
  15. RatKiller
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    RatKiller - May 16, 2013 8:49 am
    You would vote for this guy if he ate kittens on the Capitol Square. You are one of the die hard 18% neanderthal Reps who don't care - whatever means justifies the end, right?
  16. RatKiller
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    RatKiller - May 16, 2013 8:47 am
    Redistricting is the ONLY reason Paul Ryan was re-elected to the U.S. House. His hometown didn't vote for him.
  17. FantasiaWHT
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    FantasiaWHT - May 16, 2013 8:46 am
    Simple solution - make districts match up to county lines. Problem solved!
  18. RatKiller
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    RatKiller - May 16, 2013 8:44 am
    In other news, there was no evidence that Michael Jackson sexually assaulted prepubescent boys. Every 40 something year old man sleeps with children in a locked compound - nothing to see there, either.
  19. Traderjoe
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    Traderjoe - May 16, 2013 8:38 am
    @Bucky-Did you NOT read the article or even the headline"No EVIDENCE files deleted" . What is truly embarrassing is your failure to accept the FACTS.
  20. Observer5
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    Observer5 - May 16, 2013 8:25 am
    Scooooter skates again. But he is rapidly using up his nine lives
  21. Beingbucky
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    Beingbucky - May 16, 2013 8:23 am
    Records were subpoenaed. Then they were destroyed. This is a victory for Republicans? I am starting to get confused on what is and what is not considered embarrassing.
  22. JoeDaPlumber
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    JoeDaPlumber - May 16, 2013 7:52 am
    The real crime here is the arrogance of the WI Dems, failing to enact redistricting reform when they had control of state government. Now, we will have Republican legislative majorities for at least the next decade.
  23. MagnusP
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    MagnusP - May 16, 2013 7:31 am
    You are going to have trouble finding a state with cleaner state government.
  24. Traderjoe
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    Traderjoe - May 16, 2013 7:14 am
    Adios.......
  25. Whazzat
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    Whazzat - May 16, 2013 6:41 am
    I don't have an appreciation for either political party - but it's quite obvious that this redistricting fiasco was orchestrated to impinge on democracy. Just another reason to leave this g__-forsaken state of shysters, drunks and crooked politicians.
  26. Robert James
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    Robert James - May 16, 2013 6:36 am
    This is when I wish we had the same kind of verdict system that they use in Scotland: Guilty, Innocent, and "Not Proven".
  27. digger
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    digger - May 16, 2013 6:12 am
    Remember, there are two types of politicians, those who have been caught, and those who are about to be!
  28. digger
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    digger - May 16, 2013 6:10 am
    Children...raise your hands if you believe this BS!
  29. powmda
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    powmda - May 16, 2013 5:37 am
    Once again, Lucy jerks the football out from in front of poor Charlie Brown and we see another pratfall. How much money was wasted on lawyers, on both sides of the issue, that could have been better spent. And nothing has changed! For all the Left's machinations on the redistricting issue, all they got was moving one line a couple of city blocks, between two totally insignificant Assembly districts that were and are always going to be safe Democrat seats anyway!!
  30. Traderjoe
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    Traderjoe - May 16, 2013 4:41 am
    Well now..... Isn't this just sweet vindication ! I hate to say I told you so, but , well ,

    I TOLD YOU SO !

    Just another fabricated accusation further perpetuated by the lefty press and wacko bloggers. The gall!!!!

    I look forward to all of the appologies to be posted on this. Ha.....
  31. Barb10242
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    Barb10242 - May 15, 2013 11:21 pm
    They sure did! They seem to be able to get away with a LOT of things they shouldn't!
  32. Dode
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    Dode - May 15, 2013 11:19 pm
    Did you hear that noise? It wasn't thunder. It was the heads of the CT editorial staff exploding.
  33. Jambalaya
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    Jambalaya - May 15, 2013 10:49 pm
    Um, that's because they deleted the evidence. Mission accomplished.
  34. Stuck In The Middle With You
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    Stuck In The Middle With You - May 15, 2013 10:41 pm
    I would guess that if we waterboarded some legislative aides and attorneys we would get the whole truth.
  35. MadCityYokal
    Report Abuse
    MadCityYokal - May 15, 2013 10:08 pm
    My dog ate my homework. Really.
  36. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - May 15, 2013 9:33 pm
    Well, that's that, then.
  37. witness2012
    Report Abuse
    witness2012 - May 15, 2013 8:20 pm
    Yeah. They got away with it.
  38. Crow Barr
    Report Abuse
    Crow Barr - May 15, 2013 8:15 pm
    Ya, Right!
  39. Mr Mellow
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    Mr Mellow - May 15, 2013 8:09 pm
    The Federal court criticized and penalized the GOP's law firm, Michael, Best and Friedrich, for repeatedly failing to comply with its orders in this case. Just because the plaintiffs were unable to proved intent does not mean noting illegal went on.

    An old Watergate phrase comes to mind: un-indicted co-conspirators.

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