Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has issued a denial of witness reports that he grabbed fellow justice Ann Walsh Bradley by the throat on June 13. The altercation reportedly erupted in Justice Bradley’s chambers during a heated discussion of Governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget bill, which curtails collective bargaining rights for public workers.
Prosser says that the allegations against him “will be proven false” after a “proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear”.
Justice Bradley has issued a statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stating that “(t)he facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold”. Anonymous sources have confirmed Bradley’s account, but spoke on condition of anonymity based on the need to maintain professional relationships. Other sources loyal to Prosser say that Bradley charged him with her fists raised and he grabbed her by the throat in an effort to defend himself.
Bradley responded to that version of events in an interview, saying, “You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin.”
She has announced her intention to pursue a formal complaint against Prosser. “Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren’t resolved by competing press releases. I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”
Prosser has a history of violent outbursts of anger, particularly against women justices. Last year, in a heated exchange, he called Chief Justice Abrahamson “a bitch” and vowed to “destroy” her. Bradley was present for that exchange and says she thought of contacting law enforcement personnel at the time. In an interview from March of this year, she expressed her concerns about Prosser’s anger issues, saying, “It’s been going on for years off and on”.
Prosser won a tight election for his seat against challenger JoAnne Kloppenberg in the spring. The contest was considered by many to be a referendum on the polices of Governor Scott Walker.
Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubman has announced that he will be releasing a statement on the matter on Monday, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. He was among the first to be summoned to the scene of the June 13 altercation.