Judiciary

Wis. Justice Admits He Lobbed the B-Word at the Chief Justice—and Says It Was Warranted


Wisconsin Justice David Prosser isn’t denying it. He called the state’s chief justice, Shirley Abrahamson, a “bitch” during a heated debate over whether to remove another justice from a criminal case.

Prosser says he used the B-word after Abrahamson tried to undermine him politically and to embarrass him and other conservative justices, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. “In the context of this, I said, ‘You are a total bitch,’ ” Prosser told the newspaper. “I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted.”

Prosser says he was responding to “bullying and abuse of very, very long standing,” according to the Journal Sentinel. In his view, Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley “are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements.” He believes Abrahamson is a brilliant judge, but she marginalizes conservative justices and emphasizes the court’s split.

Now, Prosser complains, an email Bradley sent to him and others chronicling his February 2010 outburst has surfaced just weeks before voters go to the polls on April 5 to choose between him and his election opponent. Prosser says Bradley wrote the email to hurt him in the campaign; she tells the newspaper she never intended for it to be made public.

The Journal Sentinel published part of the email Bradley sent to Prosser. “In a fit of temper, you were screaming at the chief; calling her a ‘bitch,’ threatening her with … ‘I will destroy you,’ ” Bradley wrote.

At the time of Prosser’s outburst, the justices were debating whether to remove Justice Michael Gableman from a criminal case because of alleged bias against criminal defendants. The issue had surfaced after an ethics complaint accused Gableman of misrepresenting the facts in a campaign ad that accused his opponent of finding a “loophole” in the case of a defendant who raped a child.

The court split on the recusal motion and the ethics complaint, leaving Gableman on the criminal case and free of the ethics charge.

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