Lawyers: Wisconsin Dems safe from police

Feb. 18, 2011 at 3:20 PM
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MADISON, Wis., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Wisconsin lawyers said out-of-state police are powerless to deal with state Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois to boycott a budget vote.

Republican leaders said police are searching for the 14 truant lawmakers, but lawyers said police in Illinois, where several of the senators are believed to be during their boycott, or other locations outside of Wisconsin do not have the legal authority to detain the legislators, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday.

"Cops in other places can't just pick people up and haul them across state lines," said Rodney Cubbie, a former federal and Milwaukee County prosecutor. "You have to have some sort of court order or warrant."

Raymond Dall'Osto, a criminal defense lawyer and former head of the Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union office, said Illinois police "could arrest if there is a crime, but what is the crime?"

"They would have no legal right to arrest them right now," he said.

The Democrats are boycotting a vote on a budget bill that would cut benefits for public employees and end collective bargaining, the Chicago Tribune reported. The proposal has brought several days of demonstrations in Madison by thousands of protesters opposing the bill.

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