Alleged physical altercation between Wisconsin judges probed

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jun 28, 2011 5:03 PM
Alleged physical altercation between Wisconsin judges probed

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Two agencies are investigating an alleged physical fight between Wisconsin Supreme Court justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley in the court's chambers June 13, officials said Tuesday.

The Dane County Sheriff's Department opened an inquiry Monday after a request by the Wisconsin Capital Police Department. The state's Judicial Commission authorized an investigation Friday.

"Detectives will work diligently to conduct a thorough and timely investigation. Because this case is in the very early stages, no further information is available at this time," the Dane County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper that Prosser put her in a chokehold during a heated exchange. She disputed claims she had attacked him first. The alleged incident took place a day before a state Supreme Court ruling allowing Wisconsin's contentious collective bargaining law to go into effect.

The law limits collective bargaining rights for public workers. A circuit court voided the law, finding that Republican lawmakers had violated the state's open meetings law when they passed the measure in March. The Supreme Court reversed the decision in a 4-3 ruling, with Prosser voting there was not an open meetings violation and Bradley voting the other way.

"The sheriff and judicial commission can expect the full cooperation of Justice Prosser who believes a thorough and impartial review will be the proper channel for the facts surrounding this incident to be reported to the general public," said Brian J. Nemoir, a spokesman for Prosser, in a statement.

Prosser, considered a conservative justice, narrowly won re-election in April in what was considered a referendum on the collecting bargaining bill. He has served on the court since 1998. Bradley, characterized as liberal justice, has been on the bench since 1995.

Staff within Bradley's chambers said the justice is not granting interviews regarding the incident.

"I think it's in everyone's best interest to have this move as quickly as possible and we are hopeful that will be the case," Nemoir said Tuesday.

Several Supreme Court clerks declined to comment when reached Tuesday.

(Writing and reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)