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Justice demands colleagues quit discipline case (UPDATE)

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley consider oral arguments during a hearing June 6. Prosser, who is accused of allegedly choking Walsh Bradley during an argument last year, filed a motion Thursday asking Walsh Bradley not to participate in his discipline hearings. (AP File Photo/John Hart, Pool)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser wants a pair of rival justices to recuse themselves from his discipline proceedings.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of violating the judicial ethics code when he allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument last year. Prosser said Walsh Bradley charged him and he defended himself.

Three appeals court judges will make a recommendation on discipline to the Supreme Court.

Prosser filed motions Thursday asking Walsh Bradley and her ally, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, not to participate in the discipline, saying they’re both witnesses to the incident and they’re biased against him.

Abrahamson told Prosser’s lawyers Thursday the discipline case isn’t before the Supreme Court yet and any response would be premature.

In a statement, Walsh Bradley calls Prosser’s motion “rife with inaccurate statements and unfounded attacks.”

One comment

  1. Justice Prosser is absolutely correct that Justice Bradley, as the alleged victim, should recuse herself in this matter, both pursuant to statute and as a matter of due process. I fully expect that she will do so. However, it is wholly unnecessary, borderline frivolous, and no doubt counterproductive to allege misconduct by Justice Bradley as grounds for recusal.

    Although not referenced in the article, Justice Prosser also has moved to recuse Chief Justice Abrahamson on the grounds that she was a witness to his alleged misconduct and because he and the Chief Justice have not gotten along recently. The motions are available on

    The allegations of misconduct by Justice Bradley and the latter motion concerning the Chief Justice reflect that Justice Prosser is receiving very bad advice from his attorneys. First, if the Chief Justice must recuse herself because she was a witness to the incident, then so must every other Justice except Justice Crooks. They all were present and therefore are material witnesses. Second, the decision to seek recusal of the Chief Justice, and only the Chief Justice, unnecessarily opens Justice Prosser up to accusations of pursuing exactly the type of forum shopping that he and others on the Court erroneously claimed gave rise to the motions to recuse Justice Gableman. Third, the extended and injudicious attacks on the Chief Justice set forth in the motion reflect more on Justice Prosser (or his attorneys) than on the Chief Justice. The choice to pursue such tactics is highly questionable given the nature of the allegations against Justice Prosser and his previously stated views that the temperate and factual allegations supporting the motions to recuse Justice Gableman were somehow an attack on the integrity of the Court.

    The choice of Justice Prosser’s counsel to pursue such inflammatory and intemperate allegations is all the more puzzling because it is so unnecessary (and clearly counterproductive). There exist valid legal and factual grounds on which to challenge the allegations. Also, imposition of sanctions would require agreement by a majority of the Court. Even without Justice Bradley having to recuse herself, that would mean that at least one of Justice Prosser’s allies on the Court’s right wing would have to agree that the allegations are true, constitute misconduct, and justify some kind of sanction. By filing the motion against the Chief Justice, Justice Prosser’s attorneys are suggesting that there is reason to fear that one or more of his usual allies on the Court may do just that.

    All in all, Justice Prosser’s lawyers’ choice of an attack dog strategy here clearly is not in their client’s best interests.

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