Wisconsin’s politics are so heated, it’s not just public employee union members who engage in disorderly protests and make violent threats against opponents. Now two of the state’s Supreme Court justices were involved in a melée.
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel‘s JSOnline reports, June 25, 2011, that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley issued a statement late Saturday accusing fellow Justice David Prosser of choking her.
Bradley also disputed claims that she attacked him first: “I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold. Those are the facts and you can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin. I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”
Composed of seven justice, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the state of Wisconsin.
61-year-old Bradley was first elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1995, and later re-elected.
68-year-old Prosser was appointed to the high court in 1998 by then-Governor Tommy Thompson (R), and subsequently won election. Before becoming a judge, Prosser was a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly for 18 years and a district attorney.
Prosser and Bradley were on opposing sides in a recent 4-3 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that a judge’s recusal is not required in a proceeding based solely on any endorsement or receipt of a lawful campaign contribution from a party or entity involved in the proceeding. Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson were among the losing minority.
Wikipedia has a different and more nuanced account of the incident than the account in Bradley’s press statement:
On June 13, 2011, an alleged violent confrontation between recently re-elected Justice David Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley occurred. Prosser, Bradley, and all other justices besides Patrick Crooks were informally discussing the next day decision that would overturn Judge Sumi’s ruling on the collective bargaining law in Mrs. Bradley’s office. The discussion became heated after Mrs. Bradley asked Prosser to leave her office and said she was bothered by his disparaging comments towards Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Prosser allegedly then put his hands around Bradley’s throat in what was described as a choke hold, but did not apply pressure. Among the anonymous sources breaking the information to the press, another report contradicted this altercation saying Justice Bradley came charging at Prosser with fists raised and that when attempting to block her, he hit her neck. Shortly after the incident, Bradley told the other Justices in the room she had just been choked by Prosser, to which an unknown Justice stated “You were not choked”. It is currently unknown if said Justice witnessed the incident. Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident shortly after and he met with the entire Supreme Court. The incident was reportedly being investigated by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission [….] Justice Prosser denied he choked Bradley [….] An investigation into the incident is ongoing.