The state Senate approves legislation aimed at reforming the filing of John Doe lawsuits by prison inmates. The bill eases restrictions on judges in determining whether to pursue criminal complaints filed by prison inmates against corrections officers.
State Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) says the measure give judges the ability to use their discretion in deciding if criminal charges against an officer are warranted. Opponents of the current law have argued it requires judges to subject officers to criminal complaints first, which they must then defend themselves against.
Republicans opposed the measure during Tuesday's floor session. Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) urged lawmakers to take up an Assembly version of the bill, which allows District Attorneys to hear the charges first. He says the Assembly version would better prevent frivolous criminal charges from being filed against prison workers. Fitzgerald says corrections officers are scared to death that John Doe proceedings will continue.
The bill passed on an 18-15 vote and now heads to the Assembly.