Wis. justice takes exception to recusal request by alleged attacker

John O'Brien Apr. 13, 2012, 8:01am


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley says the request made by fellow Justice David Prosser to recuse herself from his disciplinary proceedings is "rife with inaccuracies."

Thursday evening, Bradley released her reaction to Prosser's motion, which was filed earlier in the day. Prosser is alleged to have attacked Bradley during a disagreement in June and says Bradley must step down from hearing the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's complaint against him.

Bradley said the tone of Prosser's motion caused her "great concern."

"In my 27 years on the bench, I have handled thousands of cases, each different than the next," she said.

"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."

Bradley says she will apply those same principles when she files a written response to Prosser's motion.

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."

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

Bradley urged her co-workers to work on an objective process for review of recusal decisions by individual justices.

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

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