Multiple sources are reporting that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week. At least three knowledgeable sources have confirmed the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Reports indicate that Prosser’s attack on Bradley occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill that eliminate most collective bargaining rights for public employees. During an altercation over the decision, Bradley asked Prosser to leave her office, prompting him to grab her by the neck with both hands.
Prosser has declined to address the charges and will neither confirm nor deny their validity.
Prosser’s judicial temperament was questioned during his campaign for retention last year after it was revealed that he had called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a bitch and threatened to destroy her over a judicial disagreement. Prosser, whose defeat was promoted by Democrats as a way to stall Walker’s agenda, narrowly won re-election by a margin of only 7,000 votes out of 1.5 million cast.
Prosser, 68, is a former Republican legislator who served as Assembly Speaker and was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Tommy Thompson, despite having no judicial experience. During his retention campaign, he offended many voters by saying he would serve as a political ally of Gov. Scott Walker on the bench.
Justices are not supposed be swayed by their political views when interpreting the law.
Although Prosser considers himself a “family values” judge and was heavily backed by right-wing anti-gay Christian groups, he has never married and is rumored to be gay among political insiders.
Bradley also declined to comment, telling WPR, “I have nothing to say.”
It is unclear what effect the lasted incident might have on Prosser’s future.
Sources told jsonline that the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. The 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.”
The Code of Judicial Conduct 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. Judges and other court personnel are also required 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.