The first of four Wisconsin Supreme Court justices asked to step aside in the pending ethics case against Justice David Prosser has agreed to do so.
In a memorandum issued Tuesday, Justice Patience Roggensack disqualified herself from ruling on any disciplinary action against her colleague on the bench. A three-judge panel is considering whether any action should result from an incident last summer in which Prosser placed his hands on Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck in the company of their colleagues.
In a 14-page memo Tuesday, Roggensack explained her decision, which is based on her role as a material witness in the case.
“In particular,” she wrote, “I conclude that I have no choice but to disqualify myself due to Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(b), which requires self-disqualification when a justice is a material witness in a matter pending before the Supreme Court.”
Prosser also has asked Bradley, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Patrick Crooks to step aside in the case.
The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Prosser on March 16. State law calls for a panel of appeals court judges to make a recommendation on discipline to the state Supreme Court.
If four or more justices recuse themselves from the case, the court would not be able to rule on any disciplinary recommendation made by the appellate panel.