Updated: September 2, 2011, 2 p.m. ET
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, a conservative, is responding to criticism from the court’s liberals, regarding his allegation to investigators that liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley hit him during a court meeting on September 18, 2008 — a date when the court did not meet. Gableman’s answer is that he is correcting a lapse of memory: It did happen on September 18 — but in 2009.
Gableman made the allegation during the investigation of a physical altercation in June, about which Bradley accused Justice David Prosser, the leader of the court’s conservatives, of grabbing her neck in a “chokehold.” Prosser replied to investigators that Bradley charged at him, and he reflexively put up his hands to block her, accidentally making contact with her neck. Ultimately, no charges were filed.
However, the court’s liberals — Bradley, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, and Justice Patrick Crooks — all informed the Wisconsin State Journal that the court didn’t even meet on September 18, 2008, nor any other day that week, due to a request by conservative Justice Patience Roggensack that the court take a two-week period off. Bradley told the paper: “Justice Gableman recounts an event that never happened on a date that, according to my records, it could not have occurred.”
In response, Gableman released a statement Thursday afternoon:
“I have read the article by Ms. Dee Hall in regard to the incident involving Justice Bradley and myself which I related to law enforcement during their investigation of the incident involving Justice Bradley and Justice Prosser. During my interview with the officers, I was uncertain as to whether Justice Bradley struck me on September 18, 2008, or September 18, 2009. I knew it was September 18 because that happens to be my birthday. Court records indicate that the seven Justices did, in fact, meet in closed conference on September 18, 2009. In any event, the incident happened exactly as I related it to the officers and as it was set forth in the report. While Justice Bradley might not be able to recall it, I certainly do.”
TPM could not immediately reach Bradley for comment.
Late Update: Bradley issued this statement late Thursday:
Whether it is Justice Gableman’s original version or his new version, his described event simply did not happen. I did not strike him on the head in 2008, 2009, or ever.
I think that former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske aptly responded to Justice Gableman’s story when she said: “I have known Justice Bradley for 20 years. I cannot imagine her hitting another justice in anger because he (Gableman) called Justice Abrahamson ‘Shirley’ - because everybody calls her Shirley … even the custodial staff at the court refers to the chief justice by her first name.”
Looking to the future, the public deserves a functional court. We, as justices, must demand this of each other as public servants and elected officials. While we may disagree on some issues, I am confident that we can all be unified in our commitment to restoring this court to its national reputation as one of the best state supreme courts in the country. That commitment, I believe, can serve as the basis for restoration, respect, and safety. The public deserves no less.
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