Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, a member of the court’s 4-3 conservative majority who was just re-elected to a ten-year term in a heated race that involved a recount and vote-tabulating controversies, is now reportedly being accused of physically assaulting liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in an argument over the court’s recent decision regarding the upholding of Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report:
Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.
They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.
Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined to comment: “I have nothing to say about it.” He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story — including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley — were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.
Bradley also declined to comment, telling WPR, “I have nothing to say.”
The alleged incident is also said to have been reported to Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs, as well as the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. Both of those parties declined to confirm or deny the reports to the paper.
Back in March, the state of civility on the court became an issue in Prosser re-election, when it was reported that in 2010 he had called another one of the court’s liberals, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a “total bitch.” When this was reported in March, Prosser seemed to simultaneously back off from and stick by the comment, blaming both Abrahamson and Bradley, the latter of whom he is now accused of assaulting:
“I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted…They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”