Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Jun 27, 2011 11:41 am CDT
A dispute over the timing of an opinion on the validity of Wisconsin’s anti-union law reportedly led to a physical altercation between two justices earlier this month, though sources are offering differing accounts of the episode.
Liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her conservative colleague, Justice David Prosser, put her in a chokehold. “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 newspaper.
Prosser issued a statement denying the allegation after the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio broke the news in a joint report based on anonymous sources. “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,” he said.
A source told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the fight took place on June 13 as six of the court’s seven justices gathered to discuss the timing of the court’s decision on the state’s anti-union law. The opinion declining to block the law was released the next day.
According to the source, Prosser remarked that he had lost confidence in Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s leadership, spurring Bradley to come at Prosser with her fists up. Prosser than raised his hands to push her back. But another source who spoke to several justices who witnessed the incident said Prosser put his hands around Bradley’s neck, though he didn’t exert any pressure.
The rancor isn’t new. In a prior incident, Prosser admits he called the chief justice a “bitch” during a heated debate.
ABAJournal.com: “Conservative Justice Takes Wisconsin Election Lead After County Clerk Finds Uncounted Ballots”
ABAJournal.com: “Wis. Justice Admits He Lobbed the B-Word at the Chief Justice—and Says It Was Warranted”