Wis. SC justice accused of attack wants colleague/accuser off case

John O'Brien Apr. 12, 2012, 12:24pm


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is asking that Ann Walsh Bradley, the fellow justice he allegedly attacked, recuse herself from the disciplinary proceedings against him.

Prosser filed his motion Thursday in his case, which stems from an alleged attack in June. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission said in March that it has found probable cause to believe Prosser violated the state code of judicial conduct.

"This motion anticipates that Justice Bradley will recognize that she must not participate as a judge in this case," the motion says.

"She is not only a material witness, but also a complaining witness and thus disqualified by law. If she were to participate as a judge at any stage of the proceedings in this matter, she would deprive Justice Prosser of the due process of law guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

According to the Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Prosser allegedly attacked Bradley on June 13, 2011. That was the day before the state's high court released an opinion upholding Gov. Scott Walker's controversial Budget Repair Bill.

"Three knowledgeable sources" told the Center that Prosser and Bradley were arguing about the ruling in front of the other justices. When Bradley asked Prosser to leave her chambers, Prosser then grabbed her neck with both hands, the sources said.

Bradley, herself, recounted the attack to the Journal Sentinel.

"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," she told the newspaper.

However, others told the Journal Sentinel that Bradley charged Prosser and that the justice put up his hands to defend himself, coming in contact with Bradley's neck.

Prosser, who was re-elected to the Court last year, has said Bradley's claims will be "proven false."

The commission, in its four-page filing in March, contends that Prosser violated three provisions of the judicial conduct code.

Among them, a provision states that a judge shall be "patient, dignified and courteous" to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an "official capacity."

The second provision, the commission said, states that a judge must cooperate with other judges as members of a "common judicial system" to promote "the satisfactory administration of justice."

The third states that an "independent and honorable" judiciary is "indispensable" to justice. Under the provision, a judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct and shall "personally observe" those standards so that the "integrity and independence" of the judiciary will be preserved.

"The judicial commission requests that this matter be determined according to law and that appropriate discipline be imposed," wrote Franklyn M. Gimbel, the special prosecutor appointed by the commission.

Prosser, in a statement released by the court in response, called the charges "partisan, unreasonable and largely untrue."

"They will be vigorously contested because I am innocent," he said.

Prosser argues that the incident was "significantly different" that what the commission alleged in its filing.

"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," he said.

"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.'"

Prosser also argues that the commission, which is tasked with enforcing judicial behavior, has been "patently unfair" in its handling of the matter.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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