Wisconsin justice is accused of denial over alleged neck grab; how will it play in primary?

Wisconsin Justice Patience Roggensack faces a contested primary election on Tuesday, less than a week after she was accused by a colleague of being in denial about court dysfunction.

Justice Patience Roggensack is being challenged by Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone and lemon law attorney Vince Megna, report the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal. Just last week, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley claimed Roggensack is denying workplace problems arising from a June 13, 2011, incident in which Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed Bradley by the neck during a debate in Bradley’s office among six justices.

Bradley lobbed her criticisms in a memo granting Prosser’s recusal motion in his related judicial discipline case. Because of recusals, the court lacks a quorum to proceed. The special prosecutor has been instructed to put the case on hold, at least for now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports in a separate story.

Bradley cited a news report in which Roggensack said that any talk of dysfunction and incivility on the court is “just a bunch of gossip at its worst.” Such denials “are simply not accurate,” Bradley said. “It strains credulity that a justice on our court would be perpetuating the myth that our issues of workplace safety and work environment have somehow healed themselves.”

Roggensack said her remarks described the current functioning of the court since nothing has occurred since the June 2011 incident, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Nobody’s edgy or yelling or doing anything inappropriately,” she said.

According to Bradley’s memo, a court official had contacted her before the incident to warn of concerns that Prosser would endanger her physical safety as well as that of Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Both justices were warned to lock themselves in their offices when working alone on nights and on weekends, Bradley said. Bradley said she had previously expressed concerns about Prosser’s “abusive behavior.”

Also see:

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

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