New details are emerging in this weekend’s story that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser — a member of the court’s 4-3 conservative majority who was just re-elected to a ten-year term in a heated race that involved a recount and vote-tabulating controversies — allegedly attacked liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument over the court’s recent decision regarding the upholding of Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation. Now, Bradley is speaking up, and saying publicly that she was assaulted by Prosser.
“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,” Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Meanwhile, an unnamed source who is on Prosser’s side of the argument accused Bradley of initiating the violence. “She charged him with fists raised,” the source told the paper, saying that Prosser “put his hands in a defensive posture” to block her, and made contact with her neck. Bradley is then said to have immediately complained of being choked, while another, unnamed Justice responded, “You were not choked.”
In response, Bradley told the paper: “You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin.
“Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren’t resolved by competing press releases. I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”
For his part, Prosser — who had initially declined to publicly comment — released a statement containing a denial, and that would make no further public comments: “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. Until then I will refrain from further public comment.”
Back in March, the state of civility on the court became an issue in Prosser re-election, when it was reported that in 2010 he had called another one of the court’s liberals, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her. When this was reported in March, Prosser seemed to simultaneously back off from and stick by the comment, blaming both Abrahamson and Bradley, the latter of whom he is now accused of assaulting:
“I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted…They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”