Legal Ethics

Wis. Supreme Court Justice Asks Two Colleagues to Step Aside in Ethics Case

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser Jr. has asked two of his colleagues to recuse themselves from having any role in the ethics proceeding that is pending against him.

The two are fellow justice Ann Walsh Bradley, whose neck Prosser is accused of putting his hands around, and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, to whom he is accused of saying: “You are a total bitch,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The state Judicial Commission has accused Prosser of breaching judicial ethics following the altercation with Bradley, which came during a disagreement between the two last June over the fate of a law limiting Wisconsin public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

Prosser contends that Bradley came at him with her fists raised and that he accidentally touched her neck when he reflexively put up his hands.

Prosser’s recusal motion, filed Friday, says Bradley must recuse herself because of her involvement in the incident. In a separate filing, he says Abrahamson must step aside because she witnessed the incident and “is clearly biased” against him. The February 2010 name-calling incident with Abrahamson is mentioned in the ethics complaint (PDF) against Prosser.

Bradley released a statement saying Prosser’s motion is “rife with inaccurate statements and unfounded attacks.”

Abrahamson referred calls to a court spokeswoman who said she had no immediate comment on the matter.

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “The Badgering State: Wis. Battles over Worker’s Rights and Skirmishes in the Supreme Court”

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