Wis. SC justice wants some discussions to be private

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Dec 5, 2011



MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - One Wisconsin Supreme Court justice says she wants to make some of the Court's discussions more private.

The Court began holding public meetings on much of its administrative matters in 1999.

Now, Justice Patience Drake Roggensack wants those issues to be talked about publicly only if a Court majority votes to do so.

According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Roggensack's proposal was expected to be discussed by the state's high court publicly on Monday.

Her recommendation is in sharp contrast to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson's recent proposals, which called for a more open court.

In September, the Court voted 6-1 against Abrahamson's proposal, which required more of the Court's deliberations be made public.

The Court's conservative majority said at the time doing so would be a mistake.

Abrahamson had submitted the proposal for open deliberations in response to a recent physical altercation between two justices.

"We should be, above all, a place where disputes are resolved -- openly, civilly, professionally -- not where they are created," she wrote.

Justice David Prosser -- who narrowly retained his seat on the Court following a hotly contested race against an assistant attorney general -- was alleged to have physically attacked fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in her chambers in June.

Prosser allegedly attacked Bradley on June 13 -- the day before the Court released an opinion upholding Gov. Scott Walker's controversial Budget Repair Bill.

The bill, Wisconsin Act 10, eliminated nearly all collective bargaining rights for those public employee union members. Walker, a Republican, had proposed the measure in response to state budget deficits.

Sources say Prosser and Bradley were arguing about the ruling in front of the other justices. When Bradley asked Prosser to leave her chambers, Prosser grabbed her neck with both hands, the sources said.

However, others have said Bradley charged Prosser and that the justice put up his hands and came in contact with Bradley's neck, merely defending himself.

A special prosecutor has said she will not bring charges against Prosser or Bradley. The state Judicial Commission, meanwhile, is doing its own investigation into the matter.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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