Secrecy Oath Struck Down

The state Supreme Court said Thursday that judges presiding over special John Doe investigations can't force attorneys to take an oath of secrecy.

The high court ruled state statutes governing the John Doe proceedings make no mention of secrecy oaths or orders -- and don't address how the hearings should be kept private.

The justices say that while a judge's powers are broad in a John
Doe, they have limits.

The ruling involves a Waukesha County case in which two attorneys refused to take a secrecy oath.

The bodies of Brian Lazzaro of Mukwonago and Andy Long of West
Milwaukee were found in a western Waukesha County pond in 2002.
The John Doe into the fatal shootings was convened in April 2003.
Circuit Judge J-Mac Davis disqualified attorneys Stephen Hurley and Hal Hawthorne from the John Doe after they refused to take an oath. The attorneys said since a secrecy order was already in place, they didn't need to take an oath. The lawyers appealed and the case was sent directly to the Supreme Court.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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