UPDATE: DOA: No Record of Extra Security for Justice

UPDATED Thursday, February 14, 2013 --- 12:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Officials with Gov. Scott Walker's administration say they can't find any evidence corroborating state Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's claims state Capitol Police set up extra security to protect her from a fellow justice.

Bradley wrote in a memo released Wednesday that Capitol Police devised a special security plan to help protect her and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson from Justice David Prosser in March 2011. Bradley wrote she and Abrahamson felt Prosser was prone to temper tantrums and was growing more agitated. Prosser allegedly placed his hands around Bradley's throat during an argument in her office in June of that year.

Walker's administration runs the Capitol Police. Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says she can find no record any security plan was ever implemented for Bradley and Abrahamson.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Wednesday, February, 13 2013 --- 2:22 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- State Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has stepped out of a fading disciplinary case against fellow Justice David Prosser.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Prosser violated judicial ethics when he allegedly placed his hands around Bradley's neck during an argument last year.

Prosser's punishment is up to the six other justices. He asked each of them to recuse themselves from the case. By last August three had complied, preventing a quorum and essentially scuttling the complaint.

Bradley issued a decision Wednesday recusing herself. She still complained in the decision that Prosser grabbed her neck, noting police had developed a security plan for her weeks before the incident because Prosser was growing agitated.

She also ripped Justice Pat Roggensack for minimizing the court's internal conflicts on the campaign trail.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 --- 4:34p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has asked another colleague to step out of his discipline case.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating judicial ethics when he allegedly placed his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during an argument last year in front of four other justices.

The ultimate decision on punishment would fall to the seven-justice court. On Tuesday Prosser asked Justice Michael Gableman to recuse himself because he was a witness.

Prosser has asked four other justices -- Bradley, Shirley Abrahamson, Patrick Crooks and Pat Roggensack -- to get out, too. So far only Roggensack has agreed.

If Prosser can convince four justices to recuse themselves, the discipline case would likely end for lack of a quorum.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 1, 2012 --- 4:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state Supreme Court justice says she's recusing herself from her colleague's discipline case.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Justice David Prosser of violating judicial ethics when he wrapped his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during an argument in Bradley's chambers last year. State law calls for a panel of appellate judges to make a discipline recommendation to the Supreme Court.

Prosser has asked four justices to recuse themselves from the matter, including Bradley, Shirley Abrahamson, Pat Crooks and Pat Roggensack, because they witnessed the altercation. If three or more justices agree to recuse themselves, the case against Prosser would likely end due to a lack of quorum.

Roggensack released a memo Tuesday agreeing she is a witness and must disqualify herself.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 25, 2012 --- 10:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is asking that a fourth colleague on the state's highest court not hear a case involving an ethics violation against Prosser.

The state Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he placed his hands on rival Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during an argument last year in front of four other justices.

Prosser on Wednesday asked that Justice Patrick Crooks recuse himself from the case. Prosser has already asked that Justices Pat Roggensack, Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson not sit on the case.

If three or more justices agree to recuse themselves, the case against Prosser would likely end due to a lack of quorum. Counting Prosser, there are seven justices on the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 17, 2012 --- 4:05 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Embattled state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has asked another colleague to step out of his discipline case.

The state Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he placed his hands around rival Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during an argument last year in front of four other justices. State law calls for a panel of appeals court judges to make a recommendation on discipline to the Supreme Court.

Prosser asked Justice Pat Roggensack Tuesday to recuse herself from the case because she was a witness. A message left with the court seeking a response from Roggensack wasn't immediately returned.

Prosser asked Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to recuse themselves last week, saying they were both witnesses and biased against him. Neither has complied.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 12, 2012 --- 5:32 p.m.

STATEMENT OF JUSTICE ANN WALSH BRADLEY
APRIL 12, 2012

As I said when the Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed its charges of judicial misconduct against Justice Prosser, I am disappointed by this entire episode. The anger and accusations contained in his latest filing and his past attacks on the integrity of the Judicial Commission cause me great concern.

Justice Prosser’s motion is rife with inaccurate statements and unfounded attacks. In my 27 years on the bench, I have handled thousands of cases, each different than the next. The unifying thread has been my commitment to ensuring a fair day in court for every litigant. I have watched with great concern the erosion of public trust and confidence that results when judges decline to step down from cases in which they have an interest. And I am not alone. Citizens across this state and media and court observers around the
country have expressed this same concern*most notably, the New York

Times, which ran an editorial that called into question the impartiality
of two of my colleagues. It took one to task for her failure to remove
herself from a case, calling it an “astounding disregard for legal
ethics and every litigants right to impartial justice.”
I have dedicated myself to deciding cases in a fair, neutral, impartial
and non- partisan manner. Accordingly, I will apply those principles
when I file my written response to Justice Prosser’s motion and I urge
my colleagues to come back to the table and work on developing an
objective process for review of recusal decisions by individual justices
so that we can begin to offer the people of this great state a real
safeguard against judicial bias.

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UPDATED: Thursday, April 12, 2012 --- 3:18p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser wants a pair of rival justices to recuse themselves from his discipline proceedings.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument last year. Prosser maintains Walsh Bradley charged him and he defended himself. Three appeals court judges will make a recommendation on discipline to the Supreme Court.

Prosser filed motions Thursday asking Walsh Bradley and her ally, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, not to participate in the discipline, saying they're both witnesses to the incident and they're biased against him.

Prosser and three other conservatives on the court have been feuding with the liberal-leaning Walsh Bradley and Abrahamson for years.

Neither Walsh Bradley nor Abrahamson responded to messages Thursday.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 12, 2012 --- 1:46 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser wants a colleague he's accused of choking to recuse herself from his discipline proceedings.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument last year. Prosser maintains Walsh Bradley charged him and he defended himself.

Three appeals court judges will make a recommendation on discipline to the Supreme Court.

Prosser filed a formal motion Thursday asking Walsh Bradley not to participate, saying she's a witness and has orchestrated a public relations campaign against him.

Messages left with at the Supreme Court's offices seeking Walsh Bradley's response weren't immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, March 21, 2012 --- 4:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Embattled Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser wants a discipline panel turn over its records related to misconduct allegations the group filed against him last week.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument last year. Prosser maintains he was defending himself after Walsh Bradley charged him.

Prosser sent Jim Alexander, the commission's executive director, a letter Wednesday saying he wants statements he made to the commission made publicly available. He also demanded the commission give him witness statements and the record of votes the commission took in closed sessions related to the decision to charge him.

Alexander says he will forward the letter to the commission's attorney.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 20, 2012 --- 9:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser says he'll ask his colleagues to recuse themselves from his discipline case.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Prosser last week asking the six other justices to discipline him for allegedly choking Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument last June. Prosser contends Walsh Bradley charged him and he defended himself.

Three appeals court judges will make a recommendation on discipline to the Supreme Court. But Prosser tells the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper http://bit.ly/GzCIEa he believes none of the justices should sit on the case.

He says all of them except Justice Patrick Crooks witnessed the incident and Crooks could be influenced by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Dane County Sheriff's detectives.

------

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal http://host.madison.com/wsj/

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, March 16, 2012 --- 4:55 p.m.

To read the complaint, click on the link ABOVE marked "Complaint Filed."

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has filed a complaint saying it found probable cause that state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser violated ethics when he allegedly put a chokehold on another justice last summer.

The complaint filed Friday with the state Supreme Court said Prosser should be disciplined by the state Supreme Court, but did not specify what the discipline should be.

The incident, in which Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said she was choked, was the most high profile and embarrassing for the court, which had suffered from several internal conflicts for years. Many of the rifts reflected the court's 4-3 ideological divide, currently favoring conservatives like Prosser.

A special prosecutor earlier declined to press criminal charges in the incident, saying the versions of what actually happened were too different.

Here is the statement released by Prosser, in response to today's developments:

The charges filed by the Judicial Commission are partisan, unreasonable, and largely untrue. They will be vigorously contested because I am innocent.There are two essential points to consider:

(1) The incident at the Supreme Court on June 13, 2011, was significantly different from what the Commission has alleged. There would have been no physical contact between Justice Bradley and me if she had not suddenly and unexpectedly charged at me from a distance of about six feet with her right hand in a fist. By her own admission, Justice Bradley intended to confront me "face to face" "in [my] personal space." She did not demand that I get out of her office until after contact had occurred. I never intentionally touched Justice Bradley's neck. I never "choked" her or put her in a "chokehold." Justice Bradley's assertions that I did are false.

(2) The Commission has been patently unfair in its handling of this matter. It has not been interested in discerning the truth. It has been committed to making a political statement. The Judicial Commission is trying to accomplish through this prosecution what some of its members failed to achieve at the ballot box.

Each of these points will be developed in a future statement.

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UPDATED Friday, March 16, 2012 --- 3:40 p.m.

This afternoon, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Wisconsin Judicial Commission has filed formal ethics allegations against Justice David Prosser.

This is connected to the June incident in which he placed his hands on the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

According to the article, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will have to send the case either to a panel of three appeals court judges or a jury to consider whether Prosser violated ethics rules. The article indicates their findings would then be sent to the high court, the only body that could make a binding ruling against Prosser.

To read the complaint, click on the link ABOVE marked "Complaint Filed."

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 6, 2011 --- 11:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Ways to make Wisconsin Supreme Court deliberations public in an effort to restore public confidence in the court will be discussed by the justices next week.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson outlined her ideas in a memo released Tuesday along with the agenda for the court's discussions on Sept. 15.

Abrahamson said she wanted to open up the discussions following a physical altercation in the court's offices between Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and David Prosser.

Abrahamson says none of the seven justices are blameless in the court's problems but she sees the start of the court's new term as a "new beginning."

Currently, administrative conferences of the court are open but deliberations are closed.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday, August 26, 2011 -- 2:11pm
By Zac Schultz
Twitter @zschultz15

Madison: Supreme Court Justice David Prosser admits he put his hands on the neck of fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, but says it was a defensive reaction and "a total reflex."

The Dane County Sheriff's Office released 117 pages of reports and notes from the investigation. A special prosecutor announced Thursday she will not file any charges from the incident.

On Monday, June 13th, four of the conservative members of the Court went looking for Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and found her in the outer office of Justice Bradley.

They wanted Abrahamson to authorize them to issue a press release that evening saying they would release their decision on the collective bargaining case the following day.

Justice Prosser says they were getting pressure from Assembly Republicans that they needed the decision by Tuesday or they would have to re-pass the collective bargaining provisions are part of the budget.

The conservative majority of the court had already decided the GOP did not violate the open meetings law when they passed the bill through a conference committee on short notice. But they were waiting for the liberals on the court to finish their dissent.

As Abrahamson was arguing with Prosser, he said he had lost all faith in her ability to lead the court. At that point Justice Bradley had been sitting at her desk in her office, but she stood up and went entered her assistant's office where the rest of the justices were standing.

Bradley's approach to Justice Prosser is described as a "rush," a rapid walk and a fast walk. Prosser says Bradley "charged at him" with an expression of "pure fury."

They all agree Bradley quickly approached Prosser and got in his face. Bradley says she was pointing with her left hand for Prosser to leave her office. The conservative justices say her right hand was raised in a fist.

Everyone agrees Bradley did not touch Prosser, but Prosser did put his hands on Bradley's neck. "Did my hands touch her neck, yes, I admit that. Did I try to touch her neck, no, absolutely not, it was a total reflex."

Bradley and Abrahamson describe Prosser's grip as a chokehold, but admit Prosser did not squeeze and left no bruises or marks.

Prosser took his hands down immediately saying he thought, ""Oh my God, I'm touching her neck." He told investigators, "What does any self-respecting man do when suddenly...part of his hands are on a woman's neck? Get them off..as soon as possible."

Justice Pat Roggensack got between the two and told Bradley, "Ann this isn't like you, you charged at him."

Justice Prosser and Justice Gableman left the office. Justice Ziegler did not see the incident. Justice Crooks was not present.

Prosser defended his actions to detectives, "It's simply a reflexive reaction to suddenly being assaulted."

Prosser was also angry the incident was leaked. "You are doing the absolute maximum damage to a public figure that you can do."

The court has been described as dysfunctional for years, largely due to ongoing spats between Prosser and Chief Justice Abrahamson. Multiple members of the court say they want Prosser to get counseling for his anger, but cannot require it.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 4:20 p.m.

Statement of Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson:

With respect to the prospect of criminal prosecution the district attorney has reached the conclusion not to prosecute, a decision that should be respected. Media sources have reported that the issues presented by these events are of longer standing and larger than the question of a criminal violation.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has a long history and a reputation for excellence, a reputation that all justices must uphold.

As Chief Justice, I remain committed – as ever – that the court be maintained as a place where disputes are resolved, not created. Each justice owes the others and the people of the state civility and personal control in our language, demeanor, and temperament in the conference room and on and off the bench. To promote these ends, I will propose to the Court at the start of the new term that the presumption will be that court conferences are open to the public.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 12:21 p.m.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser released the following statement this morning after the decision by the special prosecutor regarding the reported incident.

“Justice Ann Walsh Bradley made the decision to sensationalize an incident that occurred at the Supreme Court. This matter has now been reviewed by Dane County Sheriff’s Department detectives, the Dane County District Attorney and an appointed independent special prosecutor. Today, the investigation of the incident has been completed.”

“I was confident the truth would come out - and it did. I am gratified that the prosecutor founds these scurrilous charges were without merit.”

“I have always maintained that once the facts of this incident were examined I would be cleared. I look forward to the details of this investigation becoming public record.”

“Being in public service has been the honor of my life. I cannot express enough thanks for the hundreds of good wishes I’ve received from people across the state in the last several weeks.”

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 12:08 p.m.

Statement of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley:

This is and remains an issue of workplace safety.

My focus from the outset has not been one of criminal prosecution, but rather addressing workplace safety. I contacted law enforcement the very night the incident happened but did not request criminal prosecution. Rather I sought law enforcement’s assistance to try to have the entire court address informally this workplace safety issue that has progressed over the years. To that end, Chief of Police Tubbs promptly met with the entire court , but the efforts to address work place safety concerns were rebuffed. Law enforcement then referred the matter for a formal investigation and I cooperated fully with the investigation.

I well understand the difficulty of gaining any criminal conviction. The prosecution’s burden of proof is very heavy, as it should be.

I also know that criminal charges alone would not have addressed our safety in the workplace and the special prosecutor’s decision not to file charges does not resolve the safety issue, either.

With the potential for prosecution now eliminated, I will renew my efforts to seek the cooperation of my colleagues on the court to resolve this progressive workplace safety issue. With the continued cooperation of others both on court staff and outside the court, I remain committed to the goal that we can achieve the safe workplace that all employees—private and public—are entitled to have under the law.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 11:05 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A prosecutor says she won't file any criminal charges against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser over allegations he choked a liberal colleague.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accused Prosser of choking her in June as the justices deliberated on a legal challenge to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's contentious collective bargaining law, which strips most public workers of nearly all their union rights.

Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett is acting as a special prosecutor in the case. She says she has reviewed investigators' reports and decided there's no basis to file charges against either Walsh Bradley or Prosser. She told The Associated Press in an interview that accounts from other justices who witnessed the apparent altercation varied, but declined to elaborate further.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 10:55 a.m.

From the Associated Press:

MADISON, Wis (AP) -- Prosecutor decides not to file charges against Wis. Supreme Court justice in choking incident

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UPDATED: Monday, August 15, 2011 --- 11:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A rural prosecutor will decide whether to charge state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser with attacking a colleague.

Dane County Circuit Court Chief Judge William Foust says Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett has agreed to act as a special prosecutor in the case. He has asked Dane County Sheriff's investigators to turn over their findings to her.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accused Prosser of choking her in June during deliberations in her state Capitol office on Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's legal challenge to Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining law.

Ozanne this month asked Foust to appoint someone else to the choking case, saying he wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest since Prosser voted to uphold the law.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Friday, August 12, 2011 --- 2:41p.m.

Release from Dane County Sheriff's Office:

Madison, WI. August 12, 2011 – As part of the ongoing investigation into the June 13th incident involving the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office has shared reports from the investigation with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission.

The Judicial Commission requested this information, which is being shared at the authorization of Chief Judge C. William Foust. These reports will not be available from either source until the special prosecutor appointed by the Dane County District Attorney’s Office makes a final decision on possible charges.

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UPDATED Monday, August 1, 2011 --- 11:55 a.m.

Press Release from the Dane County District Attorney: Ismael Ozanne.

The Dane County District Attorney announced he has received the Dane County Sheriff’s investigation into the June 13, 2011, incident involving the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

I will be requesting Dane County’s Chief Judge to appoint a special prosecutor to review and make any determinations necessary in this matter due to this office’s prominent role in the litigation connected to this incident. Process matters. How we do our jobs is just as important as what we do in our jobs. The people of this State deserve to feel confident in the rule of law and the exercise of discretion by their constitutional officers. I take this action not because I feel this office wouldn’t be fair, but so that any decision can be free from accusations to ensure the public’s trust in the system and to allow the incident to be reviewed on the merits with no appearance of political motivation for any decisions or outcome.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 --- 9:40 p.m.

As accusations of a physical attack linger a Dane County Board Member asks Supreme Court Justice David Prosser to take a leave of absence while the matter is investigated.

While the Dane County Board obviously has no authority over the State's Supreme Court board member Melissa Sargent is asking Prosser to step aside and some of her colleagues agree.

Sargent is circulating a letter among board members that she's written to Prosser asking him to take a leave of absence until the investigation is complete.

There are allegations that Prosser grabbed Justice Ann Walsh Bradley by the neck and choked her.

Sargent is giving other board members the opportunity to sign on to the letter, saying in other jobs if someone is accused of wrongdoing they're often reassigned or placed on administrative leave while the matter is investigated.

Sargent says, "There is precedent for this and since a supreme court justice really can't be reassigned to another position I think it's the right thing for him to do to step aside while investigation goes forward and after it's done he can resume his position."

Sargent says about 10 other board members have agreed to sign the letter but as you can imagine not everyone agrees. At least one board member is on record saying he feels like asking Prosser to take a leave assumes he's guilty.

Dane County board members aren't the only ones weighing in about this alleged attack.

In a case of unbelievable timing, tonight the Society of Professional Journalists held a panel discussion about the supreme court including two former justices.

Here is there take on the current state of the court.

Former Justice Jon Wilcox says, "I'd say I'm very disappointed with what has happened in the last few years and perhaps in the last number of weeks."

Former Justice Janine Geske says, "Conflict and high conflict is not unusual on a court. It is more usual than not. What's unusual, unfortunately, are the allegations that have occurred in the last couple weeks that things have risen to a higher level."

Wilcox says, "I think saying it's a family is true because you spend more time with the high court than you spend with any member of your family."

Geske says, "It's like bringing all the new in-laws together at Thanksgiving, giving them a couple glasses of wine maybe, and then discussing the most controversial issues you can think of and see if you can get agreement by the end of dinner. "

Wilcox says, "We know that they are in need of some help."

Geske says, "The court has to find a way to respectfully disagree."

Both former justices said they truly believe in the Supreme Court, stressed it's importance, but acknowledged they are concerned with where things go from here.

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 28, 2011 --- 3:50 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The sheriff investigating whether state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser choked a colleague says he has distanced himself from the probe's day-to-day operations

Sheriff David Mahoney announced Tuesday he has handed the case over to his chief deputy after questions surfaced about whether Mahoney could objectively lead the investigation after he endorsed Prosser's opponent, Joanne Kloppenburg in the spring election.

Mahoney issued a statement saying he will have no role in assigning detectives or their supervisors or in overseeing the case.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused Prosser of choking her during an argument in her state Capitol office earlier this month. Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs asked the sheriff's department to take the case after he consulted with court members. He has not elaborated on those discussions.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Statement from Sheriff David Mahoney

Madison, WI. June 28, 2011 – The Office of Sheriff is an elected Constitutional Office and as such the Sheriff is political, even at times endorsing other candidates at the local, state and national level. Although the Office of Dane County Sheriff is an elected office, the duties of the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office are not now nor have they ever been political.

“As Sheriff I demand a high level of ethical conduct and integrity of staff and investigations undertaken by the Sheriff’s Office; and I place those same expectations on myself,” said Sheriff Dave Mahoney.

“Although as Sheriff, I honored the request of the Capitol Police to conduct an investigation into the Supreme Court incident on June 13, 2011, I turned the case over to the Chief Deputy. The Chief Deputy then assigned the case to the Captain of Field Services, who in turn assigned a team of detectives and supervisors to investigate the case and oversee the investigation. As the Sheriff I have no role in the assignment of detectives and supervisors or overseeing the investigation,” said Sheriff Dave Mahoney.

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UPDATED Monday, June 27th, 2011--9:40 p.m.

Madison, WI--"You go back just 10-15 years the Wisconsin State Supreme Court really was viewed as an exemplary institution of good government, above the political fray, " said Howard Schweber, a political science and legal studies professor at U-W Madison.

Flash forward to now when an alleged altercation between two justices is grabbing headlines. " Our state has become a bi-word for dysfunctional politics and I think this will be viewed as just that: dysfunctional politics spilling over into the court which just reinforces the idea that the court is not separate from the rest of the political system, it's just as much a circus as anything going on down at the capitol, "he said.

Professor Schweber says that perception hurts credibility. " At this point I don't think very many observers take the justices seriously when they say they reach a conclusion because of a legal argument," he said. "I think most observers assume the court, the justices are playing out their roles as essentially partisan hacks."

And as for what comes next? There have been partisan calls for each justice to resign--though Schweber doesn't predict either will unless they're faced with overwhelming political force. But he does say it's possible for a justice to be impeached. "It would take a good deal of cross the aisle support for such a thing to go forward," he said. "It's not impossible; I never thought I'd live to see a president impeached, I may yet live to see a state supreme justice impeached. "

While the justices are likely to be media staples--at least for a while now--the professor doesn't predict a really dramatic outcome.
" What I do see happening is yet another notch in the decline of the public regard for the state supreme court, " he said.

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UPDATED Monday, June 27, 2011 --- 1:45 p.m.

From the Dane County Sheriff's Office:
Sheriff’s Office Investigating Supreme Court Incident:

Madison, WI. June 27, 2011 – Today, at the request of the Wisconsin Capital Police Department, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the June 13th incident involving an alleged altercation at the offices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office recognizes the significance and sensitive nature of this investigation. Beginning today, detectives will work diligently to conduct a thorough and timely investigation. Because this case is in the very early stages, no further information is available at this time.

* * * * * * * * * *

Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs:

“After consulting with members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I have turned over the investigation into an alleged incident in the court's offices on June 13, 2011 to Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. Sheriff Mahoney has agreed to investigate this incident and all inquiries about the status of the investigation should be made with the Sheriff's Department.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission:

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission confirms that it received information concerning an incident that occurred at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Commission authorized an investigation of the incident at its meeting on Friday, June 24, 2011. The investigation will be conducted without prejudgment in a fair and thorough manner in accord with Commission procedures set forth in Wis. Stats. §§ 757.81-757.99 and Chapter JC Wisconsin Administrative Code. These statutes and rules may be accessed through the Commission’s website, www.wicourts.gov/judcom. Judicial Commission proceedings are confidential pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 757.93. The above information, however, is provided in accord with Wis. Stat. § 757.93(2).

The Commission will have no further comment.

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UPDATED Monday, June 27, 2011 --- 1:40 p.m.

By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin law professor says bickering among the state's Supreme Court justices has made the court a "laughingstock."

His comments come after a liberal justice accused a conservative court member of choking her during an argument earlier this month.

University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor Howard Schweber says infighting has made the court a laughingstock and the justices have become fodder for late-night comics.

He also says the problems go beyond the recent fight. He says the court has lost respect as outside interests pour money into the justices' elections and the court grown more partisan.

Gov. Scott Walker said earlier Monday the court must resolve its differences to restore public confidence in the institution.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, June 27, 2011 --- 9:30 a.m.

Wis. Gov: Supreme Court needs to resolve discord

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that infighting on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is a serious matter that needs to be resolved for the sake of public confidence in the court.

Speaking on WTMJ radio, Walker says regardless of your political beliefs, "there's got to be confidence that the people on the court can rationally discuss and debate" issues.

A member of the high court's liberal faction has accused a conservative justice of choking her during an argument in her office earlier this month -- a charge he denied. Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold. The argument reportedly occurred before the Supreme Court's decision upholding Walker's budget bill eliminating most collective bargaining for public employees.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Sunday, June 26, 2011 --- 10:55 a.m.

Wisconsin justice accuses colleague of choking her

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Supreme Court justice says another justice choked her during an argument in her office earlier this month — a charge her colleague denies.

Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold after she demanded he leave her office.

Prosser issued a statement saying the allegations "will be proven false" once a "proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear."

Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, quoting anonymous sources, have reported the altercation occurred before the Supreme Court's decision earlier this month upholding Gov. Scott Walker's bill to cut public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Messages that The Associated Press left with several of the justices have not been returned.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Sunday, June 26, 2011 --- 7:00 a.m.

UPDATE: Late Saturday night, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She told the paper ""The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold."

Click HERE To Read The JSOnline Report.

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UPDATED Saturday, June 25, 2011 --- 9:10 p.m.

This evening, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a response from David Prosser (in response to reports that he had placed his hands around the neck of fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley).

The response: "Once there's a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claims made to the media will be proven false," he said. "Until then, I will refrain from further public comment."

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cites another source that says Bradley attacked Prosser. According to the online story: "She charged him with fists raised," the source said. Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture," the source told the paper. "He blocked her." In doing so, the source said, he made contact with Bradley's neck. Click HERE To Read The JSOnline Report.

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UPDATED Saturday, June 25, 2011 --- 10:25 p.m.

The following is a report by the "Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism"

By Bill Lueders
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week, according to at least three knowledgeable sources. But other sources have offered a conflicting account, and Prosser on Saturday declared that the claims, once investigated, will be “proven false.”

Details of the incident, first disclosed Saturday morning in a joint report 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.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in an article published late Saturday, reported that the incident took place in Justice Bradley’s chambers on June 13, the day before the court issued its decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

The sources who spoke to the Center and WPR said an argument about that ruling culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. They say Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined 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.

On late Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Prosser issued a statement: "Once there's a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claims made to the media will be proven false. Until then, I will refrain from further public comment."

Bradley, contacted by WPR on Friday, declined comment, saying “I have nothing to say.”

The Journal Sentinel quoted a source who alleged that Prosser aggressively put his hands around Bradley’s neck, though did not exert pressure. It also quoted sources who disputed this, including one who said Prosser made incidental contact with Bradley’s neck as he put up his hands in a defensive posture as Bradley rushed toward him “with fists up.”

Amanda Todd, spokesperson for the court, sent an email to the full court on Friday afternoon informing them of the Center’s media inquiries on the matter. Reporters also contacted each justice individually. As of the end of day Saturday, none of the justices has publicly commented, except for Prosser in his statement.

The sources say Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident. One source says Tubbs came in to meet with the entire Supreme Court about this matter. Tubbs, contacted by Wisconsin Public Radio, declined to comment. But Saturday he told WPR he would issue a statement on Monday.

Sources also say the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. James Alexander, executive director of the commission, said Friday that “we can neither confirm nor deny” that the incident was under investigation. “The commission hasn’t given me any authority to make any confirmation.”

The Judicial Commission was created by the Supreme Court in 1971 to “discipline and correct judges who engage in conduct which has an adverse effect upon the judicial administration of justice and the confidence of the public and the judiciary and its process.” It investigates possible violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, officially Chapter 60 of the Supreme Court Rules, with ultimate decisions on discipline being imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Chapter 60 states that judges are required to “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary” and “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety” in all activities. And Chapter 62 requires judges and other court personnel to “be civil in their dealings with one another” and “abstain from any conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile or obstructive."

Judicial Commission investigations are confidential, unless it issues a formal complaint against a judge. But the commission's rules also state, “Should a complaint or investigation become known to the public, the Commission may issue a brief statement to confirm its pendency, clarify the procedural aspects of the proceedings, state that the judge denies the allegations,” and provide other basic information.

Prosser, 68, a former Republican legislator who served as Assembly Speaker, was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Tommy Thompson. He won a high-profile April election that was often cast as a referendum of sorts on the policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, including his effort to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees. Prosser, after a recount, defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,000 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast.

The decision was released late in the afternoon June 14, only eight days after the court heard oral arguments on the case. On June 13, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, had suggested that the court could rule on the matter soon, saying his party intended to introduce the changes as a budget amendment the following day if the court did not act by then.

The 4-3 decision, which held that Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority in voiding the bill, was notably contentious. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a stinging dissent chiding the majority for “hastily reaching judgment” on a ruling that was “disingenuous, based on disinformation,” “lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis” and laden with “numerous errors of law and fact.”

Abrahamson singled out Prosser for criticism, calling his concurrence “long on rhetoric and long on story-telling that appears to have a partisan slant. Like the order, the concurrence reaches unsupported conclusions.” She said the ruling “seems to open the court unnecessarily to the charge that the majority has reached a pre-determined conclusion not based on the facts and the law… .”

In March, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, in a disagreement over a case last year, Justice Prosser had called Justice Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her. Prosser, the paper reported, confirmed making the remarks, saying he “probably overreacted” while accusing Justices Abrahamson and Bradley of being “masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements.”

Center reporter Kate Golden and Wisconsin Public Radio reporters Gil Halsted and Teresa Shipley contributed to this report. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) also collaborates with Wisconsin Public Television, the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and other news media. Bill Lueders is at blueders@wisconsinwatch.org.

All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.


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