Legal Ethics

DA Won't Charge Justices in Wis. Supreme Court Fracas; One Reiterates Concern re 'Workplace Safety'


Two justices who sit on the bench of Wisconsin’s top court won’t face criminal charges concerning an alleged violent encounter during in-chambers discussion of a collective-bargaining legislation case that resulted in a 4-3 ruling the following day.

District Attorney Patricia Barrett of Sauk County was appointed by the chief judge of Dane County, in which both Madison and the state supreme court are located, as a special prosecutor to review the June 13 incident. She announced today that no criminal charges would be filed against either justice, according to Bloomberg and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Although Justice Ann Walsh Bradley alleged that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold, unidentified sources told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Bradley was the aggressor and Prosser, 68, simply put up his hands defensively, an Althouse blog post noted in June.

“My focus from the outset has not been one of criminal prosecution, but rather addressing workplace safety,” Bradley said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “I also know that criminal charges alone would not have addressed our safety in the workplace and the special prosecutor’s decision not to file charges does not resolve the safety issue, either.”

Bradley said she hopes to enlist the cooperation of her fellow justices in achieving a safe work environment.

Prosser and a public information officer for the state supreme court didn’t immediately respond to the news agency’s requests for comment.

A separate legal ethics investigation by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission is ongoing, the Journal Sentinel notes.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Wis. Justice Says Her Colleague Grabbed Her Neck During In-Chambers Dispute”

ABAJournal.com: “DA Asks for Special Prosecutor to Probe Alleged Altercation Between 2 Wis. Supreme Court Justices”

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