Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has decided to have her say.
She’s been publicly silent since the incident on June 13, 2011, in which fellow Justice David Prosser allegedly put his hands around her neck during a heated exchange in the presence of other justices in her judicial chambers. The justices were ostensibly arguing about the court’s decision upholding Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation.
But in a document filed Wednesday, in which she recused herself from the judicial misconduct case brought against Prosser as a result of the altercation, Bradley offered details about what she called “a history of abusive behavior in our workplace that has escalated from tantrums and rages, to threats, and now to physical contact.”As early as February 2010, Bradley wrote in the document, she had emailed other justices on the court about Prosser’s “abusive temper tantrums.” In late March 2011, Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson were advised to “take steps for personal security,” according to Bradley.
“To this day, the Chief Justice and I continue to lock ourselves inside our private offices
when working alone because of concerns for our physical safety due to Justice Prosser’s
behavior,” Bradley wrote. “That is not a satisfactory solution. Our court needs to address and solve its workplace safety issue. If nothing is done, I wonder what will happen next in this escalating pattern of abusive behavior.”
Bradley also accused her colleagues of publicly spinning the facts related to the June 2011, while she herself remained silent “because I respected the process.”
“Given the recent and continuing factual inaccuracies and denials, and the potential that
any future opportunity that I may have to present the facts may be foreclosed by Justice Prosser’s procedural maneuvers, I will no longer refrain from comment,” Bradley wrote.
Bradley said the “factual inaccuracies and denials of some of my colleagues… continue to this day.”
“It was reported recently that when asked about how the court is operating, Justice Roggensack responded ‘We are doing just fine’ and that ‘we are working very well together,'” Bradley wrote. “She contended that any ‘talk of dysfunction and incivility on the seven-member court [is] ‘just a bunch of gossip at its worst.” It strains credulity that a justice on our court would be perpetuating the myth that our issues of workplace safety and work environment have somehow healed themselves.”
Bradley urged her colleagues to reconsider a proposal to retain an expert in conflict resolution to help resolve the issues on the court. In September 2011, that idea was voted down 4-3 by the court.
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bradley’s recusal leaves the ethics case against Prosser with just two justices on it. Four justices are needed to act on cases, so the case had stalled even before Bradley’s decision – although, according to the paper, “some legal observers believe there are ways that [the case] could” advance.
Read Bradley’s document: