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Wis. judge: State high court unsafe

Feb. 13, 2013 at 7:45 PM   |   Comments

MADISON, Wis., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who once accused a fellow justice of assaulting her says he has engaged in an "escalating pattern of abusive behavior."

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who in June 2011 accused Justice David Prosser of putting his hands around her neck during an argument, said in a court filing Wednesday she and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson still lock themselves inside their offices when working after hours because they are concerned about Prosser's behavior, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

"If nothing is done, I wonder what will happen next in this escalating pattern of abusive behavior," Bradley wrote in a decision in which she recused herself from hearing an ethics case against Prosser.

The altercation with Prosser occurred after Abrahamson rejected demands by Prosser, Justice Patience Roggensack and two other justices regarding the timing of a ruling on Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights.

A special prosecutor determined Prosser would not be charged criminally but the state Judicial Commission filed ethics charges against him.

Bradley's recusal from the ethics case leaves only Abrahamson and Justice N. Patrick Crooks to hear the matter. That could mean it may go no further, since state law requires four justices to hear it, though some observes say the chief justice could direct Appeals Court Chief Judge Richard Brown to create a panel to take up the case, the newspaper said. Only the Supreme Court, however, has the power to discipline Prosser, the newspaper said.

Roggensack, who is running for re-election, has said accounts of conflict among the justices were "just a bunch of gossip at its worst" and that the justices are "doing just fine" and "working well together."

Bradley called that assertion "simply not accurate."

"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," Bradley wrote.

Bradley wrote that she and Abrahamson had received increased security at the court more than two months before the incident with Prosser, who was in a difficult fight for re-election at the time, the newspaper said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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