By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state Supreme Court justice said Monday he’s recovering from a colon ailment and won’t take up any new cases this month.
Justice David Prosser, 68, said he went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison hospital on Nov. 11 with what he thought was stomach flu. Doctors there diagnosed him with diverticulitis, a condition in which small pouches in the colon become inflamed causing abdominal pain.
Prosser said he spent six days in the hospital and lost 10 pounds. He said he feels much better now but must stick to a high-fiber diet.
“Broccoli, broccoli, broccoli,” Prosser said during a break in an open court conference session Monday.
He didn’t participate in oral arguments Thursday and Friday and said he doesn’t plan to sit in on oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday. He said he feels well enough to participate, but his bout with the ailment has put him behind and he doesn’t want to take on any extra cases until he’s caught up. He stressed he doesn’t plan to resign or retire.
Then-Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Prosser, a former Republican legislator, to the Supreme Court in 1998. Voters elected him to a full term in 2001 and he became part of the court’s conservative-leaning majority. He narrowly survived re-election this past spring, however.
Initial returns from April’s election showed little-known state attorney JoAnne Kloppenburg had defeated him. Kloppenburg entered the race as a virtual unknown, but opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s divisive plan to strip public workers of most of their union rights gave boosted her campaign.
A day after Kloppenburg declared victory, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus revealed she had failed to report thousands of votes to the media. The additional votes gave Prosser the election. A statewide recount confirmed his victory.
In June liberal-leaning Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accused Prosser of choking her in a fit of anger during discussions on when to release a 4-3 decision upholding Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights.
Prosser said Walsh Bradley rushed him. He said he reflexively raised his hands and placed them on Walsh Bradley’s neck in self-defense. Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett, a Republican serving as a special prosecutor in the case, ultimately decided not to file criminal charges against either of them.
Prosser’s ailment comes as the Supreme Court is considering a Republican lawsuit seeking a declaration that any legislative recall elections take place in newly drawn districts that favor the GOP.
Democrats and their allies are looking to oust four Republican state senators next year and the GOP wants the elections to be held in the new districts because they favor Republicans. State election officials have said the new districts don’t take effect until the fall of 2012 and any recall election that take place before then must be held in the old districts.
Republican attorney last week asked the court last week to allow them to withdraw the case after filing a similar action in Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold.