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Excerpt: "'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 Journal Sentinel."

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices David T. Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley consider oral arguments during a hearing regarding the state's budget bill at the Wisconsin State Capitol, 06/06/11. (photo: John Hart/AP)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices David T. Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley consider oral arguments during a hearing regarding the state's budget bill at the Wisconsin State Capitol, 06/06/11. (photo: John Hart/AP)





Bradley Bluntly Accuses Prosser of Assaulting Her

By Crocker Stephenson, Cary Spivak and Patrick Marley, The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

26 June 11

 

While reports up until this point remained largely "unconfirmed," Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's direct statement that Justice David Prosser placed her in a "chokehold" leaves no doubt that she is alleging assault. Additionally, several other Justices now confirm that an altercation did take place. -- ma/RSN

 

Justices' feud gets physical. Prosser, Bradley clashed on eve of union ruling.

upreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley late Saturday accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during a dispute in her office earlier this month.

"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 Journal Sentinel.

Sources told the Journal Sentinel two very different stories Saturday about what occurred. Some confirmed Bradley's version. According to others, Bradley charged Prosser, who raised his hands to defend himself and made contact with her neck.

A joint investigation by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism first reported on the incident early Saturday, stating that Prosser "allegedly grabbed" Bradley around the neck.

Before Bradley spoke to the Journal Sentinel, Prosser issued a statement that said: "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."

A source who spoke to several justices present during the incident told the Journal Sentinel that the confrontation occurred after 5:30 p.m. June 13, the day before the high court's release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Six of the court's seven justices - Justice N. Patrick Crooks was not present - had gathered in Bradley's chambers. Some were informally discussing the decision.

The conversation grew heated, and Bradley asked Prosser to leave. Bradley was bothered by disparaging remarks Prosser had made about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a source said.

Bradley felt Prosser "was attacking the chief justice," the source said.

Before leaving, Prosser "put his hands around her neck in what (Bradley) described as a chokehold," the source said.

"He did not exert any pressure, but his hands were around her neck," the source said.

The source said the act "was in no way playful."

But another source told the Journal Sentinel that Bradley attacked Prosser.

"She charged him with fists raised," the source said.

Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture," the source said. "He blocked her."

In doing so, the source said, he made contact with Bradley's neck.

Argument Over Decision

Another source said the justices were arguing over the timing of the release of the opinion, which legislative leaders had insisted they needed by June 14 because of their work on the state budget. As the justices discussed the case, Abrahamson said she didn't know whether the decision would come out this month, the source said.

At that point, Prosser said he'd lost all confidence in her leadership. Bradley then came across the room "with fists up," the source said. Prosser put up his hands to push her back.

Bradley then said she had been choked, according to the source. Another justice - the source wouldn't say who - responded, "You were not choked."

In an interview, Bradley said: "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."

The other justices didn't return calls or declined to comment.

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident, a source told the Journal Sentinel. Tubbs met with the entire Supreme Court about the incident, the source said.

Sources told the Center for Investigative Journalism that the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. James Alexander, executive director of the commission, said that "we can neither confirm nor deny" that the incident was under investigation. Prosser, a former Republican legislator who served as Assembly speaker, was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. He won a high-profile April election that was often cast as a referendum of sorts on the policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, including his effort to eliminate most collective bargaining for public employees. Prosser, after a recount, defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,000 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast.

The decision was released late in the afternoon of June 14, only eight days after the court heard oral arguments on the case. On June 13, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) had suggested that the court could rule on the matter soon, saying his party intended to introduce the changes as a budget amendment the following day if the court did not act by then.

The 4-3 decision, which held that Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority in voiding the bill, was notably contentious. Abrahamson, the chief justice, wrote a stinging dissent chiding the majority for "hastily reaching judgment" on a ruling that was "disingenuous, based on disinformation," "lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis" and laden with "numerous errors of law and fact."

Abrahamson singled out Prosser for criticism, calling his concurrence "long on rhetoric and long on storytelling that appears to have a partisan slant. Like the order, the concurrence reaches unsupported conclusions." She said the ruling "seems to open the court unnecessarily to the charge that the majority has reached a predetermined conclusion not based on the facts and the law."

Contentious Court

Infighting has plagued the court in recent years and often spilled into the public. The court's rancor became a campaign issue for Prosser this spring, but he insisted he was not the cause of the problem. He said during debates that he was confident the internal disputes on the court would fade quickly once he was re-elected.

Prosser acknowledged in March that he called Abrahamson a "bitch" and threatened to "destroy" her during a closed-door meeting.

At the time, Prosser told the Journal Sentinel that the outburst to Abrahamson came after the chief justice took steps to undermine him politically and to embarrass him and other court conservatives.

"In the context of this, I said, 'You are a total bitch,'" Prosser said. "I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely ... warranted. They (Abrahamson and Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing."

In a March interview, Bradley said Prosser had flashes of extreme anger on and off over the years.

"It's been going on for years off and on," she said.

After Prosser's outburst, Bradley sent an email to him and other justices saying the behavior was unacceptable. She said this March that from the time of her email until then there had been no incidents of similar magnitude.

She said she sent the email in an effort to stop Prosser from behaving inappropriately.

"I've been trying over the years to (figure out) best how to deal with it and one way is to call it out, and that's what this email was," Bradley said in March. "I've thought of other ways that have been unsuccessful. This was to describe it as it is and then you can deal with it."

At the time of Prosser's outburst to Abrahamson, Bradley said she considered going to law enforcement.

It "crossed my mind but I didn't want to do it," she said.

"This ... for me at least in part is about the institution," she added. "This behavior shouldn't be occurring at the workplace."

An hour and a half before sending her Feb. 18, 2010, email to all the justices, Bradley sent an email to Abrahamson and Crooks expressing her frustration with Prosser's outbursts.

"As you both know, I am no longer willing to tolerate Prosser's abusive behavior," Bradley wrote. "I have been at a loss just how to proceed."


Sharif Durhams of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

 

Comments   

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-98 # Cheryl Hill 2011-06-27 11:08
Throw them both out!
 
 
+67 # Terry J. 2011-06-27 11:56
Quoting Cheryl Hill:
Throw them both out!


So both Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas should have been turfed during his hearings? For some of us that would have been a good trade-off, but for Anita Hall it would not have been. Let the investigation go on and then let's draw a conclusion.
 
 
+52 # Annuit Coeptus 2011-06-27 14:30
Why both? You could only justify such a statement if you were a foaming conservative. Prosser is typical of conservatives in this country in that they will do anything to get their way including acting against the law. Throw HIM out.
 
 
+93 # Barbara K 2011-06-27 11:27
Get rid of him, he doesn't belong there anyway. Seems a bit senile, don'tcha think? He just wants to blame the victim, such an old worn out tactic. Why hasn't he been arrested for assault?
 
 
+45 # granny 2011-06-27 12:05
Why not? Because he's a Supreme, and we know what Supreme means! This Supreme thug should be shown the door - or a jail cell.
 
 
+17 # Sukumar 2011-06-27 19:42
"They are masters at deliberately goading people." -> the classic rapist's defense.
 
 
+2 # arbo48 2011-06-28 09:06
And yeah, well, he just happened to forget to zip up his trousers that morning and when he tripped over that silly woman who was lying there with her skirt up and in position to trap him, his thing fell out of said trousers when he fell on her and what do you expect to happen? Whatever, it's not his fault but it IS a classic "defense."
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2011-06-29 07:19
Exactly. The very same thought occurred to me when I first read his defense of his actions.
 
 
+3 # Dawn Castle 2011-06-29 15:11
yes, " masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements", he says. This is what abusers tell their victims, you made me do it.
 
 
+110 # Archie1954 2011-06-27 11:36
A judge should not be at a total loss at how to proceed. She should lay charges of assault and let the chips fall where they may. These conservative Republican ingrates are so used to using bullying and offensive conduct to get their way that the only way to stop them is to call in the cops.
 
 
+82 # John Gill 2011-06-27 11:51
I liked the "throwing my neck into his hands" argument. A little hard to spin that.
 
 
+56 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2011-06-27 12:43
Exactly what I was thinking, a la "The protestor kept bashing his head into my nightstick, your honor." They have no clue as to how audaciously they repeatedly insult our intelligence.
 
 
+48 # Sally Blakemore 2011-06-27 12:11
How do these fools get where they are? This behavior would be punished in DAYCARE. Where are the boundaries in our government. No class, no refinement, no understanding of law. THROW THEM all out with Clarence Thomas and his opportunistic chair.
 
 
+20 # RSJ 2011-06-27 15:35
@ Sally Blakemore: How do they get where they are? In Wisconsin, it's Koch money.
 
 
+48 # Inland Jim 2011-06-27 12:19
Uppity damn women! Next thing you know they'll want to vote... Oh, wait...
 
 
+49 # Chelsea C Cook 2011-06-27 12:27
The Reich-wing has been winning every argument and political points for 12 years by being aggressive and loud. Why would this be any different? If "we" can get our way by bullying, why not? The other side is weak so I'll force them to do things my way.

As a middle school principal I saw this played out very often by the same type mentality.
 
 
+51 # RichyD 2011-06-27 12:31
As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, I am ashamed to have to face that fact. Never could I have imagined that the electorate and elected legislators would strive to dismantle democracy and attack public employees with such an extreme negative agenda. Something is rotten, and Prosser needs to step down, if he has any degree of honor or regard for legal behaviour, including assault of a woman. No circumstance should warrant such abhorrent behaviour by someone charged with upholding the law. That election this past spring was tainted by illegal action of hiding votes (Waukesha Co.). Judicial review of this latest incident should determine that Prosser is null and void. Hopefully the judicial review board is not just a bunch of the same ilk with ruinous affiliation with Walker and his minions.
 
 
+25 # Regina 2011-06-27 14:21
Walker clearly has no "degree of honor or regard for legal behavior." Assault is just part of his thuggery. Nobody today wants the condescension of antiquated codes of "chivalry," but physical abusiveness toward any other person, woman or man, does not belong in judicial or other public service venues. Apparently stealing elections isn't sufficient gratification to the Republican Party -- mayhem is now their modus operandi.
 
 
+16 # RSJ 2011-06-27 15:39
Prosser is a Republican, RichyD, which these days means he has no honor or integrity or regard for legal niceties. As long as the Koch's own the Wisconsin government, Prosser will stay, no matter how many women he strangles.
 
 
+34 # Foxtrottango 2011-06-27 12:51
Conservatives are used to treating women badly. Clarence Thomas with Anita Hill, and now this sorry example of justice, David Prosser, is no exception. But the GOP always have solutions and excuses while the Democrats do not. All the these sorry ass republicans have to say is "I'm sorry" or "it was taken out of context" and the Democrats will forgive them. Justice is America has been degraded by all the right wing conservatives in court at present. Congress must establish if it is to succeed in governing for the people a law that put the Justicial System where it belong, not in the self-righteous way they think they are. If Congress hasn't the courage to do it, than let it be a referendum and the people decide what to do by votes.

No need for impeachment, just pass a law that the police (if they themselves are not above the law) to go and handcuff these sorry ass conservative judges like the common criminals that they are!
 
 
+2 # Cassandra2011 2011-06-30 13:02
Quoting Foxtrottango:
Conservatives are used to treating women badly. Clarence Thomas with Anita Hill, and now this sorry example of justice, David Prosser, is no exception. But the GOP always have solutions and excuses while the Democrats do not. All the these sorry ass republicans have to say is "I'm sorry" or "it was taken out of context" and the Democrats will forgive them. Justice is America has been degraded by all the right wing conservatives in court at present. Congress must establish if it is to succeed in governing for the people a law that put the Justicial System where it belong, not in the self-righteous way they think they are. If Congress hasn't the courage to do it, than let it be a referendum and the people decide what to do by votes.

No need for impeachment, just pass a law that the police (if they themselves are not above the law) to go and handcuff these sorry ass conservative judges like the common criminals that they are!

And stop calling these thugs 'conservatives' -- what are they 'conserving'? Call them what they really are — right wing radical (as in tear things out by the 'roots') fanatics!
 
 
+24 # Lulie 2011-06-27 12:51
Wow. Has it really come to this?
 
 
-24 # Kiwikid 2011-06-27 12:58
Amazingly childish - from both of them. But lets assume he's mostly in the wrong - after all, he's male and conservative - away with him I say!
 
 
+18 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2011-06-27 14:20
Quoting Andrew:
Amazingly childish - from both of them. But lets assume he's mostly in the wrong - after all, he's male and conservative - away with him I say!


The CORRECT term is COWARDICE!!! Applying to HIM ONLY!!! He ia a PUNK and would probably cower in fear if he had to fight ANOTHER MAN, one on one!!
 
 
+36 # opinionaire 2011-06-27 16:12
Quoting Andrew:
Amazingly childish - from both of them. But lets assume he's mostly in the wrong - after all, he's male and conservative - away with him I say!

It could not EVER be regarded by any professional in any position to refer to a colleague as "a bitch," which Prosser admits having done. He then excuses his behavior as having been goaded by extraneous forces. Since when is that a defense in a court of law?
 
 
+5 # RSJ 2011-06-28 04:12
@ opiniaire: Good points. If this happened in an office, Prosser would be fired before his employer was sued for condoning sexual harrassment. And the 'they made me do it' defense is laughable and would never hold up in court.
 
 
+9 # Wolfchen 2011-06-27 12:58
Seems to me that requiring Processer to wear a neck brace would be a proper fitting for an ending to this drama.
 
 
+22 # in deo veritas 2011-06-27 14:52
handcuffs would be much better!
 
 
+22 # stonecutter 2011-06-27 13:01
Another example of public officials spinning every last drop of actual fact and truth out of an incident, leaving nothing but self-serving flatulence in their wake. Did he assault her, or not?

Sounds more like a minor skirmish of titanic egos, but let the cops investigate and decide....hahah aha, yeah, sure.

The number of politicians I'd like to strangle (for the thought police monitoring these sites, I mean that figuratively... perhaps, maybe) would form a line from the White House down Pennsylvania Ave. to the Capitol. Throw in a few judges on the Supreme Court and the line might stretch across the street to their HQ.

Compared to what Wisconsin's so-called governor and his stooges in the state legislature are doing to their own workers, you'd have to let Hannibal Lecter loose in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to cause similar destruction.
 
 
+48 # jimbo 2011-06-27 13:05
"In the context of this, I said, 'You are a total bitch,'" Prosser said.
My reply to prosser is, in kind, 'In the context of this, you are a total piece of shit.' You can quote me, prosser.
 
 
+17 # in deo veritas 2011-06-27 14:53
!That would be giving feces a bad name!
 
 
0 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2011-06-30 06:50
Quoting in deo veritas:
!That would be giving feces a bad name!


Not exactly, in deo veritas. He would be referred to as "sub-feces."
 
 
+21 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2011-06-27 14:26
Prosser one of many in a long line of PUNK GOP SWINE, that thinks he is above and beyond any law! The Faux News pundits "Vannity, "Bill-O-the-clo wn," and their staff of "Stepford Wives' Journalists," will be trying to make this out to be BRADLEY'S FAULT!!!!
 
 
+10 # Wellington 2011-06-27 14:39
A little bit of humour...
I remembered an excerpt of lyrics from Robbery, Assault and Battery, a song from Genesis: -
"If they try to hold me for trial
I'll stay out of jail by paying my bail
And after I'll go to the court of appeal saying
"You've done me wrong," it's the same old song forever.".
 
 
+26 # moby doug 2011-06-27 14:51
Presser clearly has major impulse control issues and needs to be checked by a psychiatrist... .and a neurologist.... AFTER he is arrested. I'm guessing he's in the early stages of dementia. Or maybe NOT so early.
 
 
+13 # RSJ 2011-06-27 15:44
He could be in the early stages of 'wet brain' from drinking too much, a common ailment of top-level Republicans (see John Boehner and Junior Bush, for examples), or he could just be a natural-born raving a-hole.
 
 
+19 # Ray Pierotti 2011-06-27 15:55
Once again, i am amazed by the public. One credible version of the story gets told and then the right wing cooks up some spurious defense and the solution that many people arrive at is "both should be punished". Does it ever occur to you people that the right wing lies. FOX news is not even allowed to broadcast in canada because you are not allowed to present lies as news in Canada, but in the US and especially on the internet, lies are often given equal if not greater credibility than other accounts. Learn some judgment people.
 
 
+6 # RSJ 2011-06-28 04:27
Ray, the five 'non-activist' conservative 'justices' of our US Supreme Court have determined that egregious bald-faced lying, whether in politics or advertising, is what the Founders intended by including the right to free speech in the First Amendment. Strange, I can't find one letter or scrap of proof that any of the signers of the Constitution thought, "Yay, this amendment will give politicians and corporations license to deceive the public at will!" In fact, the evidence shows the contrary. But, then, the Framers never thought legal hacks who didn't fundamentally believe in a democratic republic, such as the ardent 'Unitary Executive' Federalist Society members, religious Dominionists, and corporate mouthpieces like Roberts, Alito and Scalia, would ever be allowed to serve on the highest court.
 
 
+15 # historywriter 2011-06-27 18:04
The right wing has been trying to rob women of their rights and status in defunding Planned Parenthood, for example, or trying criminalise abortions, or of ignoring the gap between male and female pay, or stopping a class-action suit (brought by females). Obviously they are not above violence and physical intimidation. By the way, next time you listen to or watch a broadcast that involves an argument between a liberal and a conservative, look who is trying to drown out the other.
 
 
+8 # mhoganyjones 2011-06-27 20:37
Are they really putting forth the "she brought it on herself" rape defense? Of course he laid hands on her; his views are well known.
 
 
+8 # radjohn31 2011-06-27 20:38
her neck ran into his hands? ha ha ha ha, that's the same as his jaw ran into my fist! what a crock of doo-doo!
 
 
+2 # RSJ 2011-06-28 04:40
Incredible scenario to consider: here's poor 'I have done nothing wrong' David Prosser with his hands up trying to defend himself from a woman supposedly attacking him and somehow his 'defensive' hands end up curled around her throat. I have seen people defend themselves from aggressive blows and never once did their hands go for the throat -- if they were simply defending themselves, that is. I hope Bradley sues Prosser and makes him re-enact this imaginary tripe in a courtroom for a YouTube video. Should be mighty entertaining -- like watching a half-in-the-bag John Boehner fighting to get through a speech without crying crocodile tears.
 
 
+6 # Cynthia 2011-06-28 04:27
Your Honor, that telephone pole darted into the street and attacked my car.
 
 
+4 # countrygirl 2011-06-28 16:47
"This behavior shouldn't be occurring at the workplace." Indeed, darling, but it is. The minute an animal steps out of line, the correction must come. If you don't correct immediately, ever most likely the problem will get worse.
 

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