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June 26, 2011

Wisconsin Supremes Get Physical, Maybe

Back in March I wrote about how the justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court are entirely dysfunctional and generally unprofessional. At the time, it mattered only because we knew that the Wisconsin budget repair law was going to come before the court and these folks seemed more apt to childish squabbling than judicial review.

The justices are acting like toddlers again.

A source who spoke to several justices present during the incident told the Journal Sentinel that the confrontation occurred after 5:30 p.m. June 13, the day before high court's release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

At least five justices, including Prosser and Bradley, had gathered in Bradley's office and were informally discussing the decision. The conversation grew heated, the source said, and Bradley asked Prosser to leave. Bradley was bothered by disparaging remarks Prosser had made about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Bradley felt Prosser "was attacking the chief justice," the source said. Before leaving, Prosser "put his hands around her neck in what (Bradley) described as a chokehold," the source said. "He did not exert any pressure, but his hands were around her neck," the source said. The source said the act "was in no way playful."

But another source told the Journal Sentinel that Bradley attacked Prosser. "She charged him with fists raised," the source said. Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture," the source said. "He blocked her." In doing so, the source said, he made contact with Bradley's neck.

You can click over for some more details and analysis, but the short of it is that at this point it's a he-said, she-said story with very little actually known. A physical altercation occurred, that's clear enough, but who started it is unclear.

Court watchers often discuss whether the courts are losing credibility because sharp differences in conservative and liberal jurisprudence are producing ever more contradictory lines of cases. I think the courts are losing credibility because judges are idiots. Sometimes.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:03 AM

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