Monday, June 27, 2011

Mayhem, incivility on Wisconsin's highest civil court

Madison – Though he denies it, an Associate Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court stands accused of choking a female member of the Court during an argument over the rights of public employees to collective bargaining.

Ms. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, a liberal member of the Court, told a newspaper that Mr. Justice David Prosser placed her in a choke hold on June 13, the day before the Court handed down a decision upholding Governor Scott Walker's bill that eliminated most of that state's public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Justice Prosser is a conservative member of the 4-3 majority which upheld the new law, the subject of massive street protests and the occupation of the capital building's rotunda and galleries by tens of thousands of people for many weeks during this year's session of the Legislature.

“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,” Ms. Justice Bradley said in an interview on Saturday.

She acknowledged that she neglected to report the alleged assault to law enforcement authorities at the time.

Anonymous reports of the altercation first surfaced on National Public Radio and in stories released by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

“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,” Justice Prosser told The Associated Press through a spokesman. “Until then I will refrain from further public comment.”

In the case under review, the Court eventually held that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority by declaring the new law void. The argument was over the timing of the Supreme Court decision.

On the day of the alleged assault, the Court was under tremendous pressure to hand down a judgment in an appeal of the new law before June 14 so the Legislature could adopt a budget that would call for employees to pay 12% of their health insurance costs and 5.8% of their pension costs, a significant saving to Wisconsin's taxpayers.

According to the Center for Investigative Journalism, the fight between the two Justices has been brought to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. James Alexander, the executive director of the commission, said he could neither confirm, nor deny the report.

1 comment:

  1. Harrison BergeronJune 27, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    I believe this posting is based on an AP report which has been criticized as being a bit one-sided. As Paul Harvey used to say, here's the rest of the story: