Prosser says hands on Bradley's neck just 'total reflex'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2011, 3:56pm PT  

The Republican special prosecutor recently appointed to investigate allegations by WI Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that her fellow anger-management challenged Justice David Prosser had placed her in a "choke-hold" during recent deliberations over the anti-union legislation of Prosser's former colleague Gov. Scott Walker.

See Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel coverage of this news yesterday for the complete, insane details.

In a terse announcement from the prosecutor, Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett would say only that she had "determined that no criminal charges will be filed against either Justice Bradley or Justice Prosser for the incident on June 13, 2011."

The letter notes that Barrett reviewed transcribed reports from law enforcement officials given to her after Dane County Democratic District Attorney Ismael Ozanne recused himself from the case, as the matter over which the Supreme Dispute took place was a lawsuit he had brought charging that the anti-union bill in question was passed by Republican legislators in violation of the state's open meetings law. The newly-assigned prosecutor also reviewed an audiotape interview with Prosser who was, apparently, the only one who had a taped interview. In addition to Bradley, four of the other Justices were said to have been witness to the fracas.

According to the Journal-Sentinel, "Barrett declined to say whether she had rejected charges because no criminal conduct had occurred or because no crime could be proven to a jury. She would say only that a case must meet both those standards before a prosecutor could bring charges"...

In a written statement following word that there would be no criminal charges, Prosser said Bradley "made the decision to sensationalize an incident that occurred at the Supreme Court." He said he "was confident the truth would come out and it did. I am gratified that the prosecutor found these scurrilous charges were without merit."

That is not, of course, what the prosecutor actually stated that she found...

For her part, in her own statement Bradley said the matter "is and remains an issue of workplace safety." She said her "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," wrote Bradley, "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."

It was the Dane County Sheriff's Department that referred the case to a prosecutor.

Today, the Sheriff's Dept. released the records from the investigation, though a spokesperson would not comment on why only the interview with Prosser was tape-recorded. The police records are now posted as PDFs here and here.

If you don't have time to plow through the complete records (I don't myself right now, as I've been buried, again, in the exclusive series I've been working on for some time --- watch for it, finally, next week! Unless Irene manages to blow it back for yet another week!) please see the coverage of the records at the Wisconsin State Journal and the remarkable he-said, she-said accounts from each of Prosser and Bradley's interviews at TPM here.

Prosser seems to have the disposition of a petulant four year-old, from our limited reading of the report documents, and from what we know of his other behavior (such as this video-taped incident when he angrily snatched a mic from a reporter asking him about the choking allegations.)

Previously, Prosser admitted to calling Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson a "total bitch" and vowed to "destroy" her.

"There will be a war against you and it will not be a ground war," Prosser is alleged to have said, leading Abrahamson and Bradley to their growing concerns about their workplace safety.

When his earlier verbal assault against Abrahamson came to light during his recent and extraordinarily contentious re-election last April, Prosser admitted that while he "probably overreacted," he thought "it was entirely warranted," since "They [Abrahamson and Bradley] are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing."

Moreover, as The BRAD BLOG reported in a special investigation during his re-election debacle this Spring, the partisan Prosser has even admitted to taking part in felonious behavior during his time as Assembly Speaker and leader of the Assembly Republican Caucus.

Prosser was a member of the 4 to 3 court majority that hastily overturned a lower court's decision which had temporarily nullifyied the GOP bill that stripped public union workers of many of their rights to negotiate with the government. He was blasted by the minority for his 8-page concurrence to the remarkable finding that the state's open meetings laws don't actually apply to the state legislature.

The physical incident between Prosser and Bradley arose from Prosser's push to issue the court's decision quickly, at the request of the GOP-majority legislature.

Chief Justice Abrahamson wrote of Prosser's written concurrence in the decision that it was "long on rhetoric and long on story-telling that appears to have a partisan slant." The minority described the decision as "a pre-determined conclusion not based on the facts and the law, which undermines the majority’s ultimate decision."

Abrahamson's suggestion in response to the prosecutor's decision to not bring criminal charges could even be more extraordinary. According to the Journal-Sentinel, in a written statement yesterday, her first public comment about the June "choke-hold" incident, "she would propose 'the presumption will be that court conferences are open to the public,' as a way to lead the fractious court back toward civility."

Does she mean that even deliberations between Justices will now be open to the public? That remains unclear at this point.

In the meantime, the choking allegations are still being investigated by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission which oversees the state's ethics code for judges. However, any findings of wrongdoing brought by that commission would be subject to a hearing before --- you guessed it --- the state Supreme Court, where two of the Justices were directly involved in the event and four others were witness, leaving just one Justice to hear actually the case?

Yes, this matter is all that insane. See the Journal-Sentinel's coverage for the full, remarkable details and fall-out from the prosecutors decision, and the other links above for the nitty-gritty on the actual police reports on the physical altercation with Prosser in the office of Bradley's assistant.

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