UPDATE: Dane County Sheriff now investigating incident...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2011, 2:42pm PT  

Wisconsin's far Rightwing Republican Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has come up with a novel way of demonstrating his fake conservative bona fides. According to a report over the weekend by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (a paper which endorsed Prosser in his recent Supreme Court election bid), Prosser is said to have attempted to make government smaller a few weeks ago, by placing fellow Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley into a chokehold.

Hey, at least he didn't attempt to drown her in a bathtub.

"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," Bradley told the Journal Sentinel.

The incident, confirmed to the paper by other sources also present when it is said to have occurred, happened on the day prior to the court's decision on the legality of Gov. Scott Walker's bill legislating away the right for public employees to collectively bargain.

An alternate description of the incident, offered by supporters of Prosser's, is that he, not Bradley, was the victim in the alleged assault. Prosser has claimed victim-hood in other incidents in the recent past after being called out for abusive treatment of his fellow (female) Supreme Court Justices...

"She charged him with fists raised" after asking him to leave her office, says another one of the paper's sources who claims that Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture" and "he blocked her", making contact with Bradley's neck.

Bradley responded to that version of the tale by saying: "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."

"Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren't resolved by competing press releases," she said. "I'm confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace."

For his part, Prosser at first declined comment, but later released a statement denying the allegations:

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

If Bradley's version is accurate, it wouldn't be the first time Prosser has had problems controlling his anger. During his recent controversial election against Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, information surfaced that he had called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "total bitch", and threatened to "destroy" her.

After being called on it publicly, Prosser admitted the incident occurred, but failed to take personal responsibility for it. He blamed Abrahamson (and Bradley) for his own behavior.

"I probably overreacted," Prosser explained, "but I think it was entirely warranted. ... They [Abrahamson and Bradley] are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing."

So, you see, it wasn't his fault, and the "bullying and abuse" wasn't by him when called a fellow Supreme Court Justice a "total bitch" and threatened to "destroy" her. It was the ladies who were, in fact, bullying and abusing him.

The alleged choking incident took place as six of the court's seven justices were meeting in Bradley's office, arguing over their decision in Walker's challenge to a lower court's finding that his union-gutting law was illegally passed when Republican legislators failed to honor the public meetings law requiring a 24 hour notice before committees meet to discuss legislation.

The Supreme's decision, letting the law stand and overturning the lower court along 4 to 3 partisan lines, was issued hastily, just days after they'd heard arguments as to why they should accept the case. The only surprise in the ruling, for the most part, was the speed in which it was issued by the high court.

Prosser wrote his own concurrence to the majority decision, which Abrahamson replied specifically to on behalf of the minority in her sharp dissent.

Abrahamson wrote that the majority was "hastily reaching judgment". She charged that their ruling was "disingenuous, based on disinformation," "lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis" and contained "numerous errors of law and fact."

In singling out Prosser's concurrence, she said he was "long on rhetoric and long on storytelling that appears to have a partisan slant. Like the order, the concurrence reaches unsupported conclusions."

Abrahamson added that the ruling "seems to open the court unnecessarily to the charge that the majority has reached a predetermined conclusion not based on the facts and the law."

When The BRAD BLOG last left Prosser, prior to his predictable finding on his former colleague Walker's law (Prosser, before being appointed to the court 12 years ago, had served as the Assembly speaker), he was declaring a "decisive victory" in his WI Supreme Court election after his other former colleague, Waukesha County Clerk and GOP activist Kathy Nickolaus, discovered some 14,000 votes said not to have been originally reported on Election Night in the heavily Republican county. The results of Nickolaus discovery flipped the results of the election from a narrow Election Night "win" by Kloppenburg, to a "decisive" 0.488% lead over the Asst. AG --- approximately 7,500 votes out of some 1.5 million cast.

At that press conference, Prosser said "This was a decisive election about judicial independence."

His claim at "judicial independence" was particularly amusing given his past, including a campaign promise, if re-elected, to help facilitate the agenda of Walker and the state GOP.

The claim was all the more laughable in light of Prosser's admissions to having broken the law when, as speaker and leader of the Assembly Republican Caucus, he used state resources for partisan political purposes --- a crime that several of his colleagues ended up serving time in jail for, as The BRAD BLOG's legal correspondent Ernest Canning detailed in an exclusive special investigation on Prosser's "Judicial Independence" last April.

Prosser escaped accountability for the crime as the statute of limitations had already run out against him, following his initial appointment to the bench, by the time the allegations surfaced.

Prosser was certified as the winner in his April 5, 2011 race against Kloppenburg, only after a month long statewide "recount" in which ballot bags were found to have been "wide open" and/or duct taped shut and/or otherwise in violation of the secure change of custody, with serial numbers on them missing or changed, and featuring computer poll tape results which either failed to print entirely on Election Day, or were found to have been dated seven days prior to the actual election for still-unexplained reasons.

Though the results of the "recount" were certified as "correct" by the state's top election agency, the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), on May 23rd, the official minutes from the counting in Waukesha were never reviewed by the agency.

In fact, to this day, the minutes from the Waukesha count --- said to contain hundreds of on-the-record "objections" from Kloppenburg's attorneys and more than 800 evidentiary exhibits detailing defective ballots and their broken chain of custody --- have still neither been received, reviewed or published by the G.A.B., even though the counting was completed there well over a month ago. The other 71 counties in the state managed to publish their minutes several weeks prior to Waukesha even completing their counting.

Despite the failure to review Waukesha's minutes, Kloppenburg's citing a "cascade" of "widespread irregularities," and her own admission during an exclusive interview with The BRAD BLOG that, due to the violations in the secure chain of custody, there was no way for her to know for certain whether the ballots counted during the "recount" were actually the same ballots cast on Election Day, the G.A.B.'s unverified certification of Prosser's victory entitles him to serve another 10-year term on the state's highest bench.

Bradley and Abrahamson may want to begin wearing protective padding underneath their Supreme Court robes when they show up for work from now on.

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UPDATE 7:10pm PT: WisPolitics reports that the Dane County Sherrif will now be investigating the incident, as well as the Wisconsin Judicial Commission:

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs announced today his agency has turned over to the Dane County Sheriff an investigation into allegations of a physical altercation between Supreme Court Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and David Prosser.

Tubbs said in the statement he decided to turn the case over after consulting with members of the court about the June 13 incident.
The Wisconsin Judicial Commission issued a statement this afternoon confirming it had received information concerning "an incident that occurred at the Wisconsin Supreme Court" and authorized an investigation at its meeting on Friday. The commission did not offer any specifics on what it is probing.

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